BUSINESS NEWS

 
 
 
 

Union Iron Announces Major Expansion Project in Decatur

 Union Iron announced today (Aug. 28) that it will develop a new $11 million facility on East Mound Road and consolidate its current operations at existing Decatur locations into this new facility.  The new facility will provide for significantly improved manufacturing efficiencies and will be able to accommodate the expected growth in Union Iron’s production of customized products.  The decision to develop this facility in Decatur will support the retention of the existing employee base, and it is expected that additional employees will be added over the next several months as the company expands its production operations.

“We are very pleased about the opportunity to have all of the Union Iron operations contained within one facility. This will enhance the effectiveness and productivity of our operations and improve the service levels we provide to our customers,” said Gary Anderson, President and CEO of AGI. “The team at Union Iron has done an excellent job of keeping up with the growth in our domestic and international business, this new facility will allow us to continue to grow and improve the Union Iron product line.”
“We appreciate the efforts of the State of Illinois, the EDC, Macon County and the City of Decatur, for their support of the project. We will realize significant improvements in efficiency and overall operational capacity and this will be instrumental in satisfying the growing needs of our customers” added Mike Brotherton, General Manager of Union Iron.
 “It is only fitting that Union Iron as Decatur’s oldest manufacturing company makes this significant investment in Decatur at the beginning of what many of us see as a period of unparalleled growth and opportunity for our community,” said Decatur’s Mayor Michael McElroy.  “We are very proud to have Union Iron as a part of our world class manufacturing community.  Their decision enhances Decatur’s prospects for other global manufacturing and logistics projects, helping solidify Decatur and Central Illinois as a location of choice for cost-conscious, forward-thinking companies.”
As part of the local effort to support Union Iron’s decision to develop this facility in Decatur, the boundaries of the Decatur Macon County Enterprise Zone were expanded to include the property where the new facility will be built.  Larry Altenbaumer, interim President of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County (“EDC”) noted, “This is a very good example of the cooperative efforts on the part of the county and the city in expanding the enterprise zone to support this specific opportunity.  This effort was further enhanced by the recent decision of the Argenta-Oreana School District to participate as a tax-abating district in the Enterprise Zone.  These local efforts coupled with strong support from the State of Illinois helped provide a package of economic benefits that were an important part of the decision to develop this facility in Decatur.”  “Illinois has been home to Union Iron for more than 160 years,” Governor Quinn said. “This expansion will mean even more jobs and economic growth for a company that has evolved with our state’s agricultural and industrial markets. With our highly skilled workforce and easy access to the rest of the world, there is no better place for Union Iron to grow and thrive.”

About Ag Growth International

Ag Growth International (AGI) is a leading manufacturer of portable and stationary grain handling, storage and conditioning equipment, including augers, belt conveyors, grain storage bins, grain handling accessories, grain aeration equipment and grain drying systems. AGI has eleven manufacturing facilities in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Finland, and distributes its products globally.

 About Union Iron  

Founded in Decatur in 1852, Union Iron Works is Decatur’s oldest manufacturer, currently producing commercial grain handling equipment and systems.  It began by building steam engines.  Later, the Western Corn Sheller was introduced by Union Iron, and it became an important product for many years.  Product lines evolved over the years.  Today Union Iron is one of the world’s largest suppliers of load out and conveyor systems for trucking and maritime operations with products sold on a global basis.  Union Iron was acquired by Canada-based Ag Growth International in 2007.

About the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County

Composed of a combination of leading private sector employers, educational institutions and a variety of governmental bodies, the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County is uniquely positioned to support the expansion and retention needs of Macon County’s existing business and employer base and to effectively work with prospective businesses from outside the Central Illinois region to establish Decatur as a desired location for business development.  The EDC works with local, state and federal partners to provide economic, technical and training assistance to businesses in the Macon County area.   



ADM Opens Global Headquarters and Customer Center in Chicago

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) today (Aug. 25) opened its global headquarters and customer center in downtown Chicago.

“As we continue to grow our company, this location allows us to more easily reach global markets, while keeping us in close contact with U.S. farmers, customers and operations,” said Chairman and CEO Patricia Woertz.

About 70 employees are based in the two-floor space, which also includes a culinary facility for ADM to showcase its broad portfolio of food ingredients.

The global headquarters and customer center is located at 77 West Wacker Drive, Suite 4600, Chicago, Illinois, 60601. The main telephone number for the office is 312-634-8100.


Caterpillar Reaches Milestone of
75,000 Wheel Tractor-Scrapers 



Caterpillar Inc. employees marked a major milestone today, commemorating the production of 75,000 wheel tractor-scrapers at the Decatur, Illinois facility. The historic machine, an open-bowl, twin-engine 627K, is built to move high volumes of material quickly and economically with optimum fuel efficiency. 
“Scraper sales have been rebounding steadily in North America since the last downturn,” said Caterpillar Mining Products Vice President Tom Bluth. “And with our new K Series machines, we’re in a great position to win business outside North America as construction investment recovers.” 
  “Congratulations to all who helped design, build, deliver and support 75,000 scrapers,” he continued. “Employees, dealers, suppliers—past and present—we appreciate the role you played. We also extend our thanks to tens of thousands of Caterpillar customers who have put their trust in Cat® scrapers for generations.” 
  Scrapers were one of three product families, along with track-type tractors and motor graders, upon which Caterpillar built its business following World War II. As the U.S. economy boomed and populations began migrating from cities to suburbs, housing and infrastructure construction exploded, spurring demand for high-volume earthmoving tools like the wheel tractor-scraper. Growth was strong all over the world as new global infrastructure began to take shape. Caterpillar responded by expanding the product line and investing in manufacturing capacity, including the operation in Decatur. 
“Just about any major infrastructure project undertaken in the past 70 years, anywhere in the world, you can bet Cat scrapers played a role,” said Sankar Kurumbail, Wheel Tractor Scraper Product Manager at the Caterpillar Decatur plant. “When it comes to high-speed, high-volume earthmoving, it can be hard to find a more economical option. They’re some of the most durable products in our line, too; it’s not unusual to see a scraper from the 1970s still working hard today.” 
  While older models continue to deliver reliable performance, the Cat scraper line has been updated over the years to help customers meet the changing requirements of earthmoving projects.  Today’s K Series models feature automated cycle functions, high-pressure steering, engine-overspeed protection, fuel economy mode, payload monitoring and other innovations that simplify operation, reduce maintenance and boost fuel efficiency. 
“The K Series scrapers are part of a rich legacy the Decatur team is carrying forward every day,” Kurumbail said. “That 75,000th machine was built with the same goal as the first one: making our Caterpillar customers more successful.” 
For more information about Cat K Series Wheel Tractor-Scrapers, customers should contact their local Cat dealer or visit www.cat.com. 


Dave Weber

Weber Reappointed to IBA Illinois BancService
Corporation Board of Directors


  Dave Weber, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Busey Bank, 130 N. Water Street, Decatur, recently was reappointed to the Illinois Bankers Association (IBA) 2014-2015 Illinois BancService Corporation (IBC) Board of Directors by IBA President and CEO Linda Koch.
As a member of the Board of Directors, Weber will manage the business of the IBC, which is responsible for identifying, developing and marketing a program of high-quality products and services in a profitable manner and that has a positive impact on the safety and soundness, performance and profitability of Illinois financial institutions.
The IBA and its subsidiary, the IBC, maximize the buying power of Illinois banks to provide the highest quality products and services at the most competitive prices. Each IBC vendor is carefully researched and approved by the IBC Board of Directors – selected by bankers for bankers – to ensure quality, consistent product and service delivery. IBC offers a full line of products and services to meet your bank’s needs.
The IBA is a full-service trade association dedicated to creating a positive business climate that benefits the entire banking industry and the communities they serve. Founded in 1891, the IBA brings together state and national banks and savings banks of all sizes in Illinois. Collectively, the IBA represents nearly 90 percent of the assets of the Illinois banking industry, which employs more than 100,000 men and women in over 5,000 offices across the state.



Larry Foster

Foster Attends Leaders Meeting In San Francisco


Larry W. Foster, President of Foster Financial Services, Inc. attended the Leaders meeting of MassMutual Financial Group in San Francisco, CA from August 3-7, 2014.  
The meeting focused on advanced estate planning, wealth transfer, family business succession and charitable gift planning.
Foster Financial Services, Inc. is located in the Decatur Club Building at 158 W. Prairie Ave.


July Unemployment Falls to 6.8 Percent 

11,200 Jobs Pushes Rate to Lowest Point Since August 2008

The Illinois unemployment rate fell in July for the fifth consecutive month to reach 6.8 percent while employers created 11,200 private-sector jobs, according to preliminary data released Aug. 14 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The data is seasonally adjusted.
The drop from 9.2 percent one year ago marks the largest year-over-year decline since 1984. The last time the rate was lower than 6.8 was in August 2008 when it was 6.7. There are +35,600 more jobs than one year ago.
“The falling unemployment rate seems to be picking up momentum with the warmer weather. That is encouraging even though we know there still is room for improvement,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said. “The unevenness in this recovery masks the very promising news of averaging more than 4,400 new jobs each month during the past four years. We need to build on that job growth so that we can help others.”
The unemployment rate also is in line with other economic indicators. First time jobless claims have been trending lower for the past four years and in July were about 17 percent lower than one year ago. Numbers from the independent Conference Board’s Help Wanted OnLine Index show Illinois employers in July advertised for nearly 204,000 jobs and 85 percent sought full-time work.
July job growth was led by Professional and Business Services (+5,900), Manufacturing (+3,900) and Construction (+1,900). Leisure and Hospitality (-3,800), Government (-900) and Information (-500) declined.
Employers added +263,100 private sector jobs since job creation returned to Illinois in February 2010. Leading sectors are Professional and Business Services (+115,000); Education and Health Services (+61,200); Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+44,500); and Leisure and Hospitality (+31,100). Government continues to lead job loss (-23,000).
In July, the number of unemployed individuals fell -16,300 (-3.5 percent) to 445,400. Total unemployed has fallen -308,100 (-40.9 percent) since the rate peaked at 11.4 percent. 
The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and seeking employment. A person who exhausts benefits, or is ineligible, still will be reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work. Historically, the national unemployment rate is lower than the state rate. The state rate has been lower than the national rate only six times since January 2000. This includes periods of economic expansion and contraction.
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or to: Decatur Tribune, 
P. O. Box 1490, 
Decatur, IL 62525-1490.

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The aerial photo of downtown Decatur at the top of this page was shot by Steve Huss.

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