Author: GLCEDC

Over 100 jobs expected to come to Pontiac, Illinois

by: Munashe Kwangwari

PONTIAC, Ill. — More jobs will be coming to Pontiac thanks to a new development set to break ground next month.

The city is located just off route 66 and is hoping to become a respite for travelers.

A member of the Wally’s family proposed building a $16 million, 19 acre “car-stop”.

Wally’s is an enhanced travel center where route 66 travelers can not only fill up their car, but also, go inside and shop.

City leaders say on top of adding about 140 jobs this new facility will prevent them from raising real estate taxes.

“That’s one of our biggest hindrances for businesses here in Illinois is high taxes,” said Mayor Bob Russell of Pontiac. “This will have about 95-98% of people get off the highway to spend money in our city. We are generating revenues, not only for the city but all of our schools in Livingston county.”

Russell says construction is expected to begin sometime next month. Leaders are hoping the facility will be up and running by 2020.

The car stop is not available to semis.


Rec Center raising fees, eliminating drop-in cost

By Erich Murphy
March 5, 2019

Director of Parks and Recreation Taylor Baxter told the Pontiac City Council his idea for program fee and pass changes, as well as his thoughts on furnishings for the new splash pad at its meeting Monday night at City Hall.

In regard to the rec center fees, Baxter proposed a five-point plan regarding fee structure. First, there is a 5 percent increase across the board. A resident family would pay $306 for a year as opposed to the current $291. District 90 residents go up to $351 from $334 and non-residents go to $382 from $364.

The second is participants having an option to participate in programs without purchase of a pass to the Rec Center. This would include outside programs being able to use a classroom and the Rec Center getting a fee from room rental or a percentage.

“Currently, you have to have a rec center pass in order to do a program with us,” Baxter told the council. “That has been a big deterrent for a lot of people coming in taking classes.

“We’ve had one class leave because participants didn’t want to do that. We have two big classes that would come back.”

He also wants to introduce a member vs. non-member rate. For a one-day-per-week class, the cost would be $24 for members ($4 per class) and $48 ($8 per class) for non-members. There is also a rate for the two-day-per-week classes.

The fourth item is that the cycle studio and fitness theater would be included in the Rec Center pass.

Finally, he added eliminating the drop-in fee for those who just spectating.

“I think (these) will really help our efforts moving forward,” Baxter said.
Baxter also discussed the splash pad furnishings. The anticipated grand opening of the new splash pad will be May 24, but in order to be ready, furnishings will be needed.

Baxter proposed purchasing eight benches and seven tables with umbrellas at a total cost of $18,814.60. He noted that this is well below the budgeted amount of approximately $29,000.

GLCEDC CEO Adam Dontz kicked off the regular agenda portion of the meeting with a report on his organization’s progress. He first introduces Pontiac Township High School District 90 Superintendent Jon Kilgore as the outgoing board chairman of four years, and Brad Solberg of OSF St. James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center as the new board chairman.

Dontz pointed out that there are 72 entities who are currently members of the GLDEDC, including 12 on the executive committee and 23 on the board of directors. He also pointed out that the revenues are split virtually down the middle between the public sector and the private sector, which is seen as a positive.

He added that of the top 20 employers in the county, 17 (85 percent) are involved in the GLCEDC. He said they collectively represent more than 4,500 jobs.

“I’m really pleased that those stakeholders, those employers, have been actively involved,” Dontz said. “I think we have pretty good representation throughout the community.”

He also discussed enterprise zones and a possible connection to one with Streator.

Mayor Bob Russell pointed out how economic development for Pontiac has changed in 25 years. He said that back then, the idea was to bring in new businesses with new jobs.

Now, it seems better to cultivate what is here and get job growth through the established businesses. ATR was used as an example by Russell and Dontz as a growing member. ATR has seen its employment more than double from 41 to 90 employees.

In other business, the fountain for Chautauqua Park was discussed in regard to raising funds and when a logical start for it could be. It was pointed out that some hurdles have been crossed and that now it appears to be up to the city to discuss it.

Russell pointed out that a meeting will need to take place to hammer out final details and that progress will be forthcoming sooner than later.


One of the greatest rewards in economic development is to see collaboration which delivers meaningful results.

Over the last two years, the GLCEDC has worked with area schools to provide funding for the implementation of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math [STEM] initiatives. With an investment of nearly $225,000, the GLCEDC through local school districts has helped to enhance the education of over 4,000 students throughout Livingston County. Also, the STEM program has resulted in additional opportunities for employers to share thoughts on curriculum, make classroom presentations, and offer STEM related internships.

I invite you to watch this short video highlighting Livingston County Schools and Local employers.


Stay tuned for more…in early 2019, the GLCEDC will be making additional videos focusing on: local Sites for Development, Healthcare, and Quality of Life.

Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council
210 West Water Street
Pontiac, Illinois 61764

Dist. 429 board approves more STEAM teachers

By Luke Smucker
Posted Jan 18, 2019 at 9:09 AM

There will be a STEAM teacher in each building of District 429 next year.
At Thursday’s meeting of the Pontiac District 429 Board of Education, the board approved job postings for STEAM teachers at Central, Lincoln and Washington Schools. The board also approved the diesel fuel bid from Ken’s Oil in Forrest for the upcoming 2019-20 school year, similar to District 90.

During the Superintendent’s report, Brian Dukes discussed where the STEAM program is headed for 2020. A couple of years ago, when the district started its STEAM program, the goal was to get to the point where there was a STEAM department for students, which was unique to District 429.

“Our program is not only unique here in the county, but across the state,” Dukes said. “When I talk to a lot of school districts about what programs they have, the things that we are able to offer our kids and how that continues to grow is something really special.”

Dukes credited Adam Dontz and the GLCEDC with helping District 429 with the finances to initially get the program going. It wasn’t long before Dukes and the district found out that people want to give money to support the STEAM project.

“We received funding from local businesses and some of our groups here in town,” Dukes said. “If you would have asked me when we started the plan, I figured we would basically have a cart that went from building to building. Today, we have a STEAM lab in every single school.”

Dukes said one benefit that the district has had with its STEAM program, is that they haven’t had to go out and ask for additional funding. Instead, Dukes said they have used grant opportunities and things like that to continue to grow the program.

“Tonight, hopefully, we can get an approval to expand the program that we already have and allow our kids more opportunities every day for STEAM programming by having a specialized teacher in every building. A year from now, the plan is to re-evaluate the program,” Dukes said.

Before seeking approval for the three STEAM positions, Dukes gave the board a brief summary of his plans. With the recent approval from the District 429 Teacher’s Union, Dukes said his plan is to consolidate two positions and then use the remainder of the district’s new state dollars to cover the cost for the three STEAM teachers.

“This isn’t three brand-new positions, it is a consolidation. The principals are going to have to work hard on how the master schedules are going to look with having someone there every day. So, it will probably look different in every building, but at the end of the day it gives our kids that much more opportunity with STEAM and we can continue to grow our program.”

Pontiac Caterpillar plant celebrating 40 years

Pontiac Daily Leader
By Luke Smucker
Posted Dec 8, 2018 at 12:23 PM

As another chapter begins to close in the pages of history, the Caterpillar plant in Pontiac reflects on 40 years of business within the community.

Caterpillar Inc. acquired the Pontiac facility in January 1978 and it was operational by March of that year producing fuel system products. The acquisition was in response to increasing demand for engines and engine components, technological advancements and the need for a facility that was centrally located with other Caterpillar engine design and development facilities.

Today, about 1,300 people, a combination of Caterpillar employees and contract workers, work at the facility.

“Much has changed, both within the facility’s four walls and at Caterpillar itself in the last 40 years,” said facility manager Dave Viebrock. “We have brought new products in and moved products out — each of the moves working to improve the overall business and success of the facility.

“The most recent changes at Pontiac resulted from the consolidation of two other operations into this plant in 2016. This consolidation brought some fuel system components back to the facility and added large after-treatment components. It also allowed us to add new manufacturing employees to the team.”

The Internet boom of the late 1990s occurred within the first 20 years of the Pontiac facility’s existence. Since then, Viebrock said the facility’s ability to share ideas has increased dramatically. Technological advances have also improved the business’ efficiency and its understanding of customer needs.

“The introduction of various kinds of robots within our facility in the 1980s helped improve the precision, speed and efficiency of our manufacturing operations and those advances continue today,” he said. “Technology has greatly reduced the time it takes to design and commercialize engine systems. Engine systems and parts that were previously drawn by hand and took several months to complete are now done using software and simulation in a fraction of that time.”

As community employees continue to serve at the Pontiac facility, the company has made a point to serve its community, too. The annual plant-wide United Way campaign is a significant contributor to local Livingston County United Way programs. Likewise, the annual Scoring Fore Scholarships golf outing has raised more than $445,000 over the past 12 years for scholarships at Heartland Community College.

“Since 2000, the Caterpillar Foundation has invested over $500,000 in the local community through non-profits via grants aimed at both education and basic human needs,” Viebrock said. “Local organizations receiving this funding include the Boys and Girls Club, Futures Unlimited and Mid-Central Community Action.

“Also, many of our employees volunteer their time to support STEM education through FIRST Robotics and FIRST LEGO League, as well as 4-H and FFA. In addition, we partner with Bradley University to have their students work on senior projects to solve real manufacturing challenges that benefit both the student and facility.”

To show appreciation to its employees for the milestone, a 40th anniversary Family Day was held in early August. More than 2,500 people were treated to barbecue, games and activities for kids and an auto show featuring employees’ classic cars and boats.

“One employee even flew his helicopter to the event,” Viebrock said. “The celebration also gave people the chance to tour our plant, see our high-tech manufacturing equipment and get up close to various types of Caterpillar machinery that they may have only seen from a distance on construction sites. NASCAR fans also got to see the 31 CAT race car and meet Ward Burton, who delivered the 2002 Dayton 500 championship in the CAT car.”

Within the Pontiac facility today, employees build fuel systems and after-treatment systems for several different models of CAT, Perkins and MaK engines, which are manufactured at Caterpillar facilities in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

“Those engines serve worldwide owners of CAT machines in various industries, including power generation, oil, gas, rail, marine and industrial power systems. In fact, there are approximately 3 million Cat engines and machines at work around the globe today, many of which are using components built right here in Pontiac,” Viebrock said.

“Components made in Pontiac are also sent to Caterpillar parts depots in the U.S., Europe and Asia. They are used for repairing and rebuilding various engine models and giving them second and third lives at our global remanufacturing facilities. We are very proud of the role we play in Caterpillar’s global manufacturing network.”

While the products and processes have changed, Viebrock said the type of employees needed to run the business has not. Since the day it opened, Viebrock and his staff have looked to hire safety and quality-minded individuals who excel at solving problems and delivering results for its customers.

“Our goal is to keep listening to our customers, keep innovating and keep delivering products that meet and exceed their expectations,” he said. “This commitment to customers has driven our business for 40 years and will continue to do so.”

Program helping PC freshmen be more interested

By Luke Smucker
Posted Aug 25, 2018 at 9:45 AM

A group of 40 to 50 freshmen at Prairie Central High School are taking part in the school’s new Freshman Cohort program this year. The core subjects of math, science, English and social studies are split between six teachers into two classrooms in an effort to offer students a STEAM-based teaching approach.

“In the past, those four classes would have taken up a freshman’s entire school year, but what we are finding, is that our freshmen were not getting into the electives, the actual programming that gets them excited about being in school and thinking about what they are going to do in the future,” Tonya Dieken, district director of curriculum for Prairie Central, said.

“So, a group of us met around the middle of last year to design a program that we thought could move forward successfully. It was great, several staff members jumped right in. So, we started with meetings once a week on Fridays to plan the program.”

Essentially, the group of freshmen have their core subjects split into two classrooms. In one room, the students will meet for 90 minutes with a math teacher, science teacher and a support teacher. The other classroom combines English with social studies and another support teacher.

“At the high school level, our teachers haven’t done as much co-teaching as other teachers have within the district,” Dieken said. “So it has been a learning curve for the staff involved. As they have developed the new program, they also received different professional development opportunities to help move the program forward.”

Because the math and English curriculums don’t offer much room for change, the social studies and science curriculums are being realigned for the purpose of finding commonalities.

“We basically looked at two classes where we thought the kids could use the most support, the entry-level math and English courses, put our team teachers in place and built on it from there,” Dieken said.

“It’s great because our teachers’ big focus is on relationships with the students and figuring out how to get those relationships to help the students be more successful. We have a very low drop-out rate here at Prairie Central and we are very blessed for that. But, one or two always slip through and we want to make sure that we are trying to catch them and help them maintain an interest in school while finishing what they started in their following years.”

In addition to encouraging the students, this group of teachers is also encouraging each other. Dieken said the teachers are getting together for 30 minutes each day to talk about what went on in class the day before and what their plans are for the future.

On Fridays, administrators get together with the teaching team to talk about how the project is going and what other support is needed.

“I used to be a high school teacher, so I know it can be isolating,” Dieken said. “You get in deep with your content and you don’t always have that time to collaborate with other teachers. So, I think it’s great that we are starting with just a small group of our incoming freshmen and a group of 13 teachers and administrators.

“Hopefully, we can continue to work together and create a really strong freshman learning program.”

Jeana Forsyth, the program’s science teacher, has been teaching at the school for 18 years. She says the biggest difference between her regular curriculum and what she is teaching through the Cohort program is the inclusion of math.

“We’re integrating more math into the science classes to give them more of a STEAM approach,” Forsyth said. “I completed some math training over the summer to help me prepare for this. We are trying to get the students engaged and also show them how math overlaps with science and vice versa. My goal is to help our students find a love for both subjects.”

Forsyth doesn’t mind teaching a class with other teachers, in fact, she said the program is helping her to learn new strategies to improve her teaching.

“We’re still getting into the swing of collaboration with the kids, but I think as the program continues the students are really going to see the value in what we’re doing,” Forsyth said. “I’m hoping that we could see this program be a part of every freshmen’s experience at Prairie Central for the next school year, if at all possible.”



Congressman Adam Kinzinger Holds Health Care Roundtable

U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger made a stop in Pontiac Tuesday to speak with regional leaders about topics that affect rural health care.

The congressman took part in a health care roundtable discussion at OSF HealthCare Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center. The roundtable was co-hosted by OSF Saint James and the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council.

Representatives from OSF HealthCare shared questions and concerns with Rep. Kinzinger, along with the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, the Mayor of Streator and other community leaders from Heritage Health, Evenglow Lodge, and The Pointe at Pontiac.

“This is an opportunity for me to hear from you, find out what you are seeing on the ground and take your concerns back to DC,” Congressman Kinzinger told the group.

The group discussed topics like the need for mental health resources and the Affordable Care Act. Rep. Kinzinger also touted the importance of innovation in health care, and how new technologies have the power to drastically reduce the cost of care.

“One of the areas I am actually really optimistic about is the role that I think innovation and technology are going to play in bringing the cost of health care down,” he said. “For instance, look at wearable devices that let you know if you are pre-diabetic or you have heart disease. If we can get people living healthier and being more aware of it, we can bring that cost curve down. And as you know, if we bring the cost of medicine down through innovation, you have better quality, better access, and frankly there’s more money to spend on people at that point.”

Another major issue in the 16th Congressional District is the challenge of opioid addiction and abuse. Rep. Kinzinger says the concern is a common theme throughout the district, and says he wants to find new ways to introduce alternative pain management methods.

“We all know the problem when it comes to opioid abuse, but we also know there are people who legitimately need these medicines,” he said. “We are trying to figure out areas where there are government barriers to find alternative methods to treat pain. There is a very important need for opioids, but is there something out there that in some of these folks’ cases that is non-addictive and can do the same kind of thing? And if there is, is the government blocking either the introduction of these medicines, the research of it? So we are trying to find ways for the government to back off and give room for innovation.”

Rep. Kinzinger was first elected to congress in 2010. He currently serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the House. His subcommittee assignments are Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, Communications and Technology, and Energy. The Congressman also serves on the Committee of Foreign Affairs and serves on the Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.


SOURCE: OSF HealthCare
August 8, 2018

Boys & Girls Club gets computers from ATR

By Paul Westermeyer
Staff Reporter | Pontiac Daily Leader

The ever-increasing prominence of the STEAM initiative is usually thought to only encompass or concern schools. But on the local level, the local after-school Boys & Girls Club of Livingston County program has made it an extracurricular activity as well.

On Wednesday, the Boys & Girls Club received eight laptops from Advanced Technology Recycling free of charge, a donation facilitated by the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council.

“What we were looking to do when starting the STEAM program was to appeal to the high school students at the Boys & Girls Club,” said Jodi Martin, the interim chief executive officer of the local youth organization.

“We were brainstorming about ways in which we could recruit teens into the Boys & Girls Club at Fairbury and in Pontiac. So we got in touch with (GLCEDC CEO Adam Dontz) and he reached out to ATR and helped get this setup for us.”

On the importance of technology to the Boys & Girls Club’s broader mission, Martin said that while the national organization was trending in this direction, it was still fairly new on the local level.

“It’s been prevalent across Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States to now focus on the three key priority outcomes, which are academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles,” she explained.

“Within that goal of academic success, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America has 98 programs. But what’s been different here is that we haven’t accessed that much in the past, and now we’re seeing what it takes to be more successful.”

As evidence of STEAM being crucial for a flourishing academic environment, Martin referenced the tech-savvy culture of the junior high students of Pontiac School District 429. Last month, Pontiac Junior High School STEAM teacher Christine Chiodo told the Daily Leader that PJHS was one of 98 schools chosen for the state’s “Students for the Information Age” TECH 2018 event. The PJHS STEAM program also received similar assistance from the GLCEDC.

Martin expressed gratitude to both ATR, for the donation, and to Dontz, for facilitating the gift.

“If it weren’t for Adam and the GLCEDC, we wouldn’t have these laptops,” she said. “He’s really the reason this is happening, and it’s really great that ATR very generously donated to help us kick this off.”

For his part, Dontz commented that the GLCEDC helping out the Boys and Girls Club was in line with his organization’s goals of ensuring a workforce that could readily meet the job market of the future.

“Increasing the knowledge and skills of youth in our area is a critical component to ensuring the the longevity of a high quality workforce,” he said. “The GLCEDC is currently working with the Boys and Girls Club to promote their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programming and we approached one of our members, Advanced Technology Recycling, and requested a donation of laptop computers to help the Boys and Girls Club.

“I’m deeply appreciative of ATR’s generosity and the Club’s commitment to advancing its program offerings.”


GLCEDC 9th Annual Golf Outing

Dear GLCEDC Members and Friends:

The GLCEDC will be hosting its 9th Annual Golf Outing on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at the Dwight Country Club. The GLCEDC Golf Outing is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with existing friends and to meet new people!

Event registration and sponsorship information for the outing are contained in the two documents attached. If you have any questions regarding the outing, or would like additional information, please contact me at

I look forward to seeing you at the 9th Annual GLCEDC Golf Outing [and hopefully before!].

Thank you in advance for your support of the GLCEDC’s work to increase commerce and economic opportunity in the Greater Livingston County area.




Pontiac Heartland Community College Youth Enrichment Summer Programs


Pontiac Heartland Community College Youth Enrichment Summer Classes


Pontiac Heartland Community College Cinco De Mayo Celebration

[Pontiac Heartland Community College Cinco De Mayo Celebration]

Pontiac Heartland Community College History Classes


New downtown coffee house offers crafted flavor

By Luke Smucker
Staff Reporter
The Daily Leader
February 14, 2018

A new cup of joe is making its mark in downtown Pontiac.

After months of planning and preparation, business owners Scott and Jennifer Cranford and co-owner Marty Fannin opened The Cup and The Scone coffee house, located at 213 W. Madison St., on Feb. 9.

Until he became an owner, Scott Cranford didn’t intend to operate a small business. Initially, he just wanted to work part-time at Starbucks, but after he and his wife came back from a trip to Europe, Jennifer suggested a coffee house.

“Although I’ve been a small business owner before, this is our first foodservice-based business,” she said. “When I lived in Minnesota, I ran a medical billing company for just under 20 years as well as a driving school. I also helped with the business planning of The Blend, a coffee shop in Washington, (Ill.), with my neighbor at the time.”

“So, I had an idea of the business structure of owning a coffee house, but my husband and I are really new to operating one.

Fortunately, we partnered with Marty Fannin, who has been in the industry for more than 30 years. So, all of the foodservice-based information is coming from him. “Together, I think the three of us make quite the team.” Even with an idea and the proper people in place, the business still needed a location.

After a lot of prayers, the idea to buy the location on Madison Street came to Scott during a walk with his wife.

“We were walking down Madison Street and it just came to me,” Scott said. “I wanted to call it ‘The Cup and The Scone’ because I really like old English coffee houses. Although we’re not located directly on the square, we like this location because everybody
seems to drive down Mill Street in front of Bernardi’s II and DeLong’s and most people make that left turn on to Madison

The coffee houses’ rustic interior is made up of ideas from the Cranfords’ daughter, Olivia, and Jennifer Cranford. The owners say they can comfortably seat about 80 people.

“We wanted something with an old English feel, something like you might find in Europe,” Jennifer Cranford said. “We wanted something that is cozy, comfortable and a little timeless. Our daughter, Olivia, is a little more cutting-edge, so she pushed us to go a little bit modern.”

Although the decorating is mostly complete, Scott said there are still a few finishing touches to be added. “We want to give each booth a stretched canvas, which depicts the history of old English coffee houses,” Scott said. “That is my contribution.”

The Cranfords bought the location last September and spent the past five months in construction.

Along the way, both had their fears and doubts. During the rough times, the couple says they looked to one another and God for support.

“There were moments leading up to this, where I was pretty overwhelmed, to say the least,” Jennifer said. “In those moments, I was glad to have my husband with me, he’d always keep me calm.”

“I’ve had my moments, too,” Scott added. “I remember one time when my wife and my daughter walked in here and I was sitting on some of the building materials. The walls had just been tuck-pointed and acid washed and there was dust everywhere.

“We were talking about when we were going to open and all of a sudden, I just remember saying, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me. When are we going to open? I don’t even know when we’re going to get the floor cleaned.’”

In the darkest moments, the Cranfords say Fannin always knew how to find the answer.

“Marty would stop us and say, ‘let’s pray about it for 10 minutes.’ Every time we prayed about it, someone came through for us — it has been very humbling,” Scott said.

The coffee house’s signature roast is a five-bean blend called Black Velvet, which features rich caramel notes.

“It is good hot, but it gets better cold and it’s great at room temperature,” Scott said. “A lot of people will tell us, ‘I need cream and sugar,’ but then they take a couple drinks of Black Velvet and they’re OK drinking it black, I have never seen anything like it. I tell people all the time, ‘adding cream and sugar to this coffee is kind of like adding ketchup to a steak at a restaurant.’”

When it comes to coffee, the owners say there isn’t much they can’t make. Their specialty is a Kyoto cold brew. Kyoto is a traditional Japanese cold brew that is never heated.

“It takes 10 to 12 hours to make, but I can get unbelievable flavors out of it — like nothing you’ve ever had before,” Scott said. “You’ve heard of craft brews before? This is craft coffee. I think we’re the only ones who offer a Kyoto south of Chicago.”

The coffee house also features a number of baked items to complement their coffee.

“I don’t want to compete with Pfaff’s Bakery because I love it so much,” Scott said. “However, I like scones and I wanted to bring that European feel to this place by offering some scones and muffins to compliment our coffee.

“Our baker, Anna, has knocked it out of the ballpark since we opened. People are coming to get so many scones that we have used up what we thought would be enough scone mix to last us three weeks.”

They also offer a gluten-free option for those with food restrictions. “We want people who are on a gluten-free diet to be able to enjoy our food,” Scott Cranford said. “We want people who are eating a gluten-free muffin or scone to feel like they are eating the real deal.”

The Cup and The Scone is open Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“We don’t want this to be a place you only come once per week,” Scott said. “We want people to come and hang out here with their kids. This isn’t another restaurant where we want you to eat and leave, we are hoping you will stop on in and stay a while.”

For more information, search for “The Cup and The Scone” on Facebook, or visit


Woodland getting ahead of the game

STREATOR — Recent years have seen the job market trend increasingly toward careers requiring skills in computation, engineering and manufacturing, and the desire for education to meet those demands has expressed itself in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics academic discipline.

And Woodland High School is putting itself ahead of the curve, becoming the first school district in Livingston County to implement a STEM curriculum for all its grades, K through 12.

But ambitious programs such as these require a bit more than sheer determination and sweat — they need a serious capital investment.

That’s where the beneficence and patronage of Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, along with Country Financial and Streator Onized Credit Union, is crucial: after the GLCEDC helped procure a seed grant of $31,000 for Woodland, the insurance agency and the bank pitched in as well.

With the investments, Ryan McGuckin, superintendent of the Woodland School District, said that Woodland had teamed with Texas Instruments to add its line of TI-Nspire series of graphing calculators to the school’s repertoire.

He believed that the science teachers and math teachers had been able to utilize such technologies to “revolutionize the curriculum,” making it even ready to tackle “the 22nd Century” when it arrives.

Hannah Cox, the STEM teacher at Woodland, works with the grant equipment and gave a specific accounting of its impact in the classroom.

“My students get to learn about things that they don’t necessarily get to see in an everyday chemistry class or an everyday math classroom,” she said. “They get to build it … They get to see how it actually works on a small-scale, and how it should work on a large-scale.”

A project that Cox is particularly excited about is the arrival of futuristic Texas Instruments TI-Innovator Rovers, purchased by the school due largely to the largesse of Country Financial.

“With Country Financial, they were able to give us money to buy what are called Texas Instruments Innovator Rovers, which are these little robots that we’re able to use with the calculators we have now,” she said, explaining that the Rovers could essentially be piloted once connected with a calculator.

“It’s really cool and I’m really excited about it,” she added.

Kevin Derossett, the representative of Country Financial of Dwight whom Cox had first approached about procuring cutting edge tech, said humorously that today’s technology made him nostalgic for a time when “you could make a computer screen flicker like a strobe light.”

On a more serious note, though, he said Cox’s enthusiasm was “inspirational” and a “great opportunity to give back to the local community.”

Lori Christopherson, a representative of SOCU, added that her employer is pitching in for consumable supplies for Woodland.

“We were told that they needed consumable products so … we found out what that need was,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we were giving back to the community in that regard.”

In addition to the recent bequests from SOCU and Country Financial, McGuckin also expressed gratitude to the GLCEDC for helping kick off Woodland’s significant expansion of its STEM curriculum.

“If not for the generous grant from the (GLCEDC), we couldn’t do this,” he said.

CEO Adam Dontz said that after the initial grant, which he likened to a seed, was planted, he was encouraged that other community organizations and businesses helped the school bear fruit.

“I think we were the initial contributor to help Woodland really develop its STEM program, and what I was really pleased by was that from our initial contribution, not only has Woodland received additional benefit and partnerships with Country (Financial) and SOCU, but then they’ve also brought in other local businesses like Iberdrola and others.

“I was happiest to hear from what Ryan conveyed is that, stemming from what we did, it has really become a community effort.”

The Daily Leader
By Paul Westermeyer
Staff Reporter
January 18, 2018

STEM Comes to Life in Woodland Classrooms

Baily Stipp and Cameron Price, measure the temperature of a greenhouse they made in the STEM class, which was funded through donations from the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, Country Financial and SOCU.

Woodland instructor Hannah Cox’s students are learning about things they don’t necessarily get to see in an everyday math or chemistry classroom.

Since the beginning of the school year, students have worked with greenhouses, wind energy, model rockets, model towers and skyscrapers, among other items.

With the help of the community, Woodland Unit 5 has become the first kindergarten through 12th-grade district in Livingston County to offer STEM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

Cox teaches the high school STEM class, which currently has 11 students in it who must meet math and science requirements to qualify for the class.

“We’ve done a lot,” Cox said. “Right now we’re in the middle of energy consumption based project, talking about solar power with wind . … They actually get a lot of free reign and they get a lot of hands-on. They get the benefit from using their own thought processes and learning about using what you have to make something greater. It’s very interesting to see how things turn out. They all work really well together.”

The Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council contributed $31,000 for the initial purchase of classroom equipment, and Country Financial and SOCU have contributed financial support as well.

“The economic development council has worked with three school districts for STEM funding,” said Adam Dontz, of the council. “The funding requires three components: professional development, curriculum development and purchase of equipment for STEM training. Woodland has put together a program to do just that.

“We were the initial contributor to help Woodland kick off,” Dontz continued. “From our initial contributions, not only has Woodland gotten help from SOCU and Country Financial … stemming from what we’ve began, it has really turned into other community members helping as financiers and guest speakers. Our funding wasn’t meant to be ongoing. (It was) provided to accelerate implementation of STEM program at Woodland.”

The lessons high school students learn in their classroom trickle down to the rest of the district’s 550 students as well. The high school students go into elementary classrooms to pass on some of the concepts they have learned, and math and science teachers incorporate some STEM concepts into their curriculum for junior high students.

Another component of the program is that people in the community with STEM-related jobs will come to Cox’s class on a regular basis to talk about what they’re doing.

Cox is excited about Rover robots that Country Financial will fund, which will allow the robots to perform tasks through commands from a calculator.

“When Hannah came to me, it inspired me,” said Country Financial Agent and Woodland alumnus Kevin Derossett. “I remember when computers were first coming out and we thought the flashing green light on the screen was cool. It’s a great opportunity for my company to give back and as an alumnus of Woodland, this is where my heart is.”

Money contributed by SOCU is being used for consumable supplies for the curriculum.

“With our presence in Streator, Dwight and Livingston County, we are thrilled to give back to the community,” said Lori Christopherson, of SOCU
The district has contributed $10,000 and teamed with Texas Instruments to purchase items from the Inspire series such as probes and thermometers that are used on a daily basis.

“Over the next few years the school will have a trainer come once every other month that shows teachers not only how to use the equipment but also expand the equipment use,” said Superintendent Ryan McGuckin. “Really, we could do none of this without the contributions of the community and Livingston County.”

CREDIT­cfb9-530f-90e1-344 75f4 76fe4.html
STEM comes to life in Woodland classrooms
Jerrilyn Zavada,

OSF and BCBSIL Reach Agreement

November 22, 2017
OSF HealthCare – Press Release

(Peoria, IL – November 22, 2017) – OSF HealthCare has reached an agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) to ensure patients have uninterrupted access to extensive high quality, in-network, medical care and services, including pediatric, neurologic, and cardiovascular care. All OSF HealthCare hospitals and services will continue to be in network now and in the New Year.

“We are pleased to have finalized a continuation of OSF HealthCare’s relationship with BCBSIL that ensures patients and families have in-network access to the treatments and services they need,” said Randy Billings, senior vice president of population health. “We realize this situation caused concern for our patients and families, and appreciate the support and patience of local businesses and community leaders.”

OSF HealthCare hospitals and providers are in-network caregivers for BCBSIL today, and will remain in network moving forward into 2018. This includes BCBSIL Commercial, PPO, EPO, and Blue Choice products that BCBSIL terminated previously. For a complete listing, visit

OSF HealthCare has been recognized by Blue Cross and Blue Shield for quality and safety, earning several distinctions including Blue Distinction Total Care and BlueStar Status.

OSF HealthCare is ranked in the top 20 percent of large health care systems in the country by Truven, an independent health care analytics research company and OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report among the top 50 pediatric facilities in the U.S. in two pediatric specialties.

Additionally, OSF HealthCare has been recognized as one of the Most Wired systems in the country for six years in a row, and has been named a Top ACO by Becker’s.

About OSF HealthCare: OSF HealthCare is an integrated health system owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St.
Francis, headquartered in Peoria, Illinois. OSF HealthCare employs nearly 19,000 Mission Partners in 115 locations, including 11 hospitals – 7
acute care, 4 critical access – and two colleges of nursing throughout Illinois and Michigan. Its physician network employs nearly 1,200
primary care, specialist physicians, and advanced practice providers. OSF HealthCare operates an extensive network of home health
services; owns OSF Saint Francis, Inc., composed of health care-related businesses; and OSF HealthCare Foundation, the philanthropic arm
for the organization. OSF Innovation, ranked among the top 10 innovation centers in the country, is located in Jump Trading Simulation &
Education Center. More at

[CLICK to read entire press release in PDF format]

Dist 429’s Curriculum Moving Full STEAM Ahead

November 15, 2017
Pontiac Daily Leader

[CLICK to read entire article]

City of Fairbury Approves Property Tax Abatement for BMCH Properties

October 19, 2017
Pontiac Daily Leader

[CLICK to read entire article]

Pontiac District #429 students use STEAM to graph weather data

ComEd Recognized as One of the Top 10 Utilities for Economic Development

CHICAGO (September 11, 2017) Site Selection magazine has named ComEd to its annual list of Top
10 Utilities in Economic Development for 2017. The magazine cites ComEd’s 17 direct-involvement
project “wins” in 2016. It also noted the anticipated $1.6 billion in projected capital investments creating
6,170 jobs across the 400 municipalities and 25 counties ComEd serves in northern Illinois. There were
an additional nearly 40,000 new indirect jobs reported by the utility’s regional economic development
organization partners as a result of these efforts…


Kinzinger Feels Failed Health Plan Misunderstood

August 10, 2017
Pontiac Daily Leader

[CLICK to read entire article]

County Board opts to help with health care

July 21, 2017
Pontiac Daily Leader

[CLICK to read entire article]

Money still an issue, but not so much of a concern

July 21, 2017
Pontiac Daily Leader

[CLICK to read entire article]

ATR in agreement with county

The Daily Leader
May 19, 2017


Technical Metals moving forward with some help

The Daily Leader
May 6, 2017


School District Still Not Getting State Money

The Daily Leader
April 21, 2017


Unemployment Numbers Could Change

The Daily Leader
March 22, 2017


Location Change Really No Issue Here

Feb 3, 2017
Pontiac Daily Leader


Interview on Pontiac Caterpillar’s Future

WJEZ interview with Caterpillar’s Pontiac Factory Manager Steven Harding and Adam Dontz of the GLCEDC.


Jobless Rate Creeps Up In October

November 19, 2016
Pontiac Daily Leader

[CLICK to read entire article]

District Moving Full STEAM Ahead

November 15, 2016
Pontiac Daily Leader

[CLICK to read entire article]

Leader: CEO Feels It Has Been A Good Year

Pontiac Daily Leader
November 3, 2016

[CLICK to download PDF of article]

WEEK News: Community Leaders See Growth at Caterpillar’s Pontiac Facility

WEEK News 25
November 2, 2016

[View Now]

[CLICK to download PDF of article]

CAT Hiring in Pontiac

September 15, 2016 (link to article)

We’re used to seeing Caterpillar in construction zones, but in Pontiac, we are seeing construction zones in Caterpillar.

“By restructuring and making the space more efficient and by having a large facility, a million square feet, we could leverage a lot of existing resources here,” the facility’s product manager Susan Toher said.

The CAT facility in Pontiac is going through a $12 million upgrade to make room for the production and people they are getting from plants in Thomasville, Georgia and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Shannon Ziegler was working in Thomasville when he learned the company was consolidating.

“It all sunk in, you know, yeah, we’re going to be losing our jobs, but we’re going to make the best and we’re going to do the right thing and we’re going to keep our integrity high,” the third shift group manager said.

He is part of the select few who were able to move back to Pontiac. It’s the same facility where he originally got his start with the company.

“How could you not want to come back to a facility and a community like this,” Ziegler said.

“We have had a few folks that transitioned with the business. Many of the jobs, most of them were hires from the local area,” human resources manager Kevin Kramer said.

Robert Armour is one of those locals.

“I know a couple people who have worked here, so I decided I’d give it a shot,” he said.

He’s been with the company for just two weeks. And he’s not alone.

The Pontiac facility has hired 80 new employees with plans to hire at least 80 more much to the delight of those in the area.

“To see everything grow into Pontiac, it’s going to be fantastic,” Ziegler said.

Aside from the open space, the company chose Pontiac because Livingston County was able to offer them incentives to stay put.

The transition should all be complete by the end of this year.

Cat Plant Gets Makeover for Consolidation

September 16, 2016
Pontiac Daily Leader (link to article)

The sprawling, 1 million-square-foot Caterpillar facility of Pontiac opened its doors to the press Thursday morning, as officials gave local media a short presentation and fielded questions, as well as taking the visiting journalists on a tour of the plant — a rare occurrence in the 38 years that Caterpillar has operated within the building.

The local Caterpillar plant has had plenty of reason to show off in recent months. Since the $1.6 million deal between the heavy equipment corporation and several municipal and school entities within Livingston County was finalized earlier this year, the local operation has added 80 new employees, and has plans to add 80 more by January.

The essence of the agreement was for the governmental bodies to pay Caterpillar approximately $1.6 million to retain its current employee base of 550, and to offer additional money for jobs the plant creates, along with a tax abatement on the table if certain job creation criteria are met over the next five years.

The Livingston County Board, the main financial backer, had clawback provision protection should Caterpillar renege on the deal in some way — namely, by closing the plant.

During the presentation, Susan Toher, the plant’s product manager, said that the addition of the jobs also coincided with the closure of Caterpillar facilities in Thomasville, Ga., and Santa Fe, N.M., and those plants’ operations and equipment consolidating in Pontiac.

During the tour of the plant, Steven Harding, the plant’s facility manager, pointed out that $12 million in equipment investments had been added to Pontiac, and that areas of the facility that were empty would soon be completely full.
Before the consolidation, Toher noted that the Pontiac facility, a fuel systems plant, made fuel injectors and pumps. After the consolidation, she said that the after-treatment parts previously made in Santa Fe — which she compared to catalytic converters in vehicles — would now be made in Pontiac. She said that the company had done a lot of “moving around and reconfiguring” to make space for the incoming equipment.

On the decision to consolidate, Toher said that a corporate analysis was done to assess advantages and disadvantages of where consolidation would occur, and found that the Pontiac location’s square footage would allow for “leverage of existing resources.”

Toher said that much of the additional work being done at the facility is similar to what had been done before, but some new jobs would require skilled labor, such as welding, which had not previously existed at the Pontiac plant.

Kevin Kramer, the plant’s human resources manager, said that most of the hires following the consolidation were local, estimating that 25 to 30 of the recent hires were transfers from the Santa Fe and Thomasville plants.

The deal brokered between the public and private sectors was not reached without critique; when asked about such criticism, Kramer said the decision “showed us that the community really values Caterpillar and its presence in the community, and we view it as a very positive thing.” He hoped that Caterpillar’s own involvement in the community, such as its $100,000 donation to United Way, showed that the positive relationship was reciprocal.

After the tour, Caterpillar employee Shannon Ziegler, who is a Livingston County native, Pontiac facility veteran and, most recently, a transfer from the Georgia facility, said he was not at all surprised that Livingston County had stepped up to make the Pontiac plant as attractive an option as possible following consolidation.

“This town as always been good for all the businesses here, but it was just amazing (hearing about the deal),” he said. “It just really sunk right to your heart.”

Pontiac’s Caterpillar Plant Adds 80 Jobs

September 16, 2016
PANTAGRAPH (link to article)

PONTIAC — Pontiac’s Caterpillar plant has reached the halfway point of its promise to hire 160 employees by next summer.

“We have hired 80 new employees since the January announcement and have plans to hire at least 80 more employees by early 2017,” Senior Public Affairs Manager Jamie Fox said.

In January, Caterpillar announced plans to add about 160 jobs to its existing Pontiac plant as a result of company restructuring. The announcement came following an economic incentive agreement with the company and Livingston County taxing bodies, which abated property taxes as incentive for the plant to stay in the county and add jobs.

The fuel systems facility in Pontiac marked its 38th year in operation this year, but new operations will be added as part of the restructuring, said Susan Toher, product manager for the Pontiac facility.

“Our plant looks totally different than it did in January,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of construction and a lot of preparation to bring some jobs here. If you walked through the facility last year, you would not have thought we would have room. But we relocated 114 machines and we found the room.”

The Pontiac plant is about 1 million square feet, she said. The new positions include the manufacturing of subcomponents for engines for some of Caterpillar’s bigger machines.

In announcing the restructuring in January, the Peoria-based manufacturer announced that five other plants would close, resulting in a net loss of 670 jobs. However, the Pontiac plant was given a vote of confidence with the announcement that some work would be transferred in.

“Our employees are really excited and as a company, we are all working hard to be competitive, and improve our safety, overall performance, and efficiency goals,” she said. “The company sent a positive message to us and it’s great to see our employees and the community stay behind us.”

About 700 employees now work at the Pontiac plant.

“With different types of work, come more opportunities and we have seen a lot of long-time employees applying for new positions in an effort to gain some new skills,” Fox said.

County’s Unemployed Numbers Fall

Pontiac Daily Leader
By Paul Westermeyer
Staff Reporter

On Aug. 26, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced that, although job growth was slow in areas of the state, the rate of unemployment had also decreased between July 2015 and July 2016 statewide. Both Pontiac and Livingston County saw an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent drop to 5.2 percent in that span.

Pontiac City Administrator Bob Karls welcomed the news for Pontiac. “The falling unemployment rate is definitely good news,” he said. “It means that our employers are doing well and, because of that, the unemployment rate is dropping.

Karls declined to speculate on what reasons may or may not have c ontributed to the declining unemployment rate, saying that there were “so many factors to consider,” such as workers residing outside the county being employed by local businesses, as well as how the way that the unemployment rates are tabulated may not absolutely reflect the exact size of the workforce.

Still, the city administrator was optimistic about what the numbers meant for Pontiac, and had echoed conversations he and others in the municipal government had had with employers in the area.

“This is certainly indicative of what we’ve heard from employers — that their employment numbers have remained strong,” he said. Karls referenced the Caterpillar plant in Pontiac, which has added jobs since the intergovernmental incentives and tax abatement agreement finalized in late January, signed by the company, the City of Pontiac, the Livingston County Board, other municipal govern mental entities and several school boards.

Adam Dontz, CEO of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, which was instrumental in creating the Caterpillar incentives package, highlighted his organization’s role in helping thin the rate of unemployment in the area.

“Given the substantial capital investment and hiring announcements by multiple employers, I am not surprised Livingston County’s unemployment rate has fallen,” Dontz said. “The GLCEDC has worked with Anthony Liftgates of Pontiac, Caterpillar of Pontiac, RKO Saw of Cullom and Selig Sealing of Forrest to implement hiring incentives and/or property tax abatements recognizing their job creation and building expansions.

“Collectively, these companies have announced over 190 new jobs and nearly 30,000 square feet of building expansion.”

In its release, the IDES added that, over the year, non-farm payroll employment was unchanged at 1 4,000. Manufacturing and financial activities had the largest increases in employment, while the trade, transportation and utilities, educational-health services and leisure-hospitality sectors had the largest declines from a year ago.

Caterpillar Hiring at Pontiac Facility: CNC Grinding Specialist

Download Information by CLICKING HERE.

Caterpillar Hiring at Pontiac Facility: Lathe/Mill, Drill, Bore Specialist

Download Information by CLICKING HERE.

Caterpillar Hiring at Pontiac Facility: Assembly & Test Specialist

Download Information by CLICKING HERE.

Caterpillar Hiring at Pontiac Facility: Welder

Download Information by CLICKING HERE.

Livingston Workforce Services

Download the Livingston Workforce Services flyer by clicking here: DOWNLOAD

2016 Heartland Annual Update: Employers see success with Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program

Pontiac employers see success with HCC’s Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program.

Download the information here: DOWNLOAD

Livingston County Issues Request for Proposal to Purchase and Redevelop the Livingston County Manor

Livingston County issues Request for Proposal to purchase and redevelop the Livingston County Manor.


GLCEDC Trying To Push Growth

In an effort to highlight Livingston County as an attractive place to live, the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council has put together a new marketing campaign, including a brochure and a website, the purpose of which is to draw in prospective residents…


GLCEDC Creates New Marketing Campaign Called Live Livingston and Launches New Website

GLCEDC creates new marketing campaign called Live Livingston.

Download the new brochure: CLICK HERE

The new website is

Official: Agreement May Have Helped Bring Jobs to Pontiac

Pantagraph – February 3, 2016

PONTIAC — The CEO of the Livingston County Economic Development Council said an intergovernmental incentive and tax abatement agreement may have played a role in bringing new Caterpillar jobs to Pontiac.

Adam Dontz said he was pleased with last week’s announcement that the construction equipment manufacturer plans to add about 160 jobs to its existing Pontiac plant as the result of a company-wide restructuring…

[CLICK HERE to read entire article]

Caterpillar Plant in Pontiac Will Create 160 Jobs

WEEK TV – January 29, 2016

PONTIAC, Ill. — While many communities are struggling with massive job cuts by Caterpillar starting next month, a local organization has ensured what looks like a bright future for Livingston County…

[CLICK HERE to read entire article and view TV news broadcast]

Pontiac Offers Incentives To Gain 160 Caterpillar Jobs

Peoria Journal Star – January 29, 2016

PEORIA — Caterpillar Inc. smiled on a slice of central Illinois, announcing 160 out-of-state jobs will be moved to its plant in Pontiac.

Those jobs come thanks to a three-pronged incentive plan from Livingston County — cash payments and tax abatements potentially worth about $4 million over three years to Caterpillar — that also assures the Pontiac plant of retaining its current 550 jobs…

[CLICK HERE to read entire article]

CAT Adds 160 Jobs at Pontiac Facility

Pantagraph – January 29, 2016

PONTIAC, IL — Caterpillar will add about 160 jobs to its existing Pontiac plant as the result of company-wide restructuring announced Friday.

“We’re pleased that Caterpillar had confidence in the Pontiac plant, its employees and our community,” said Pontiac City Administrator Bob Karls.

The Peoria-based manufacturer also announced the loss of at least 120 jobs from its East Peoria facilities. Overall, the changes announced Friday, which include five plant closings, will result in a net loss of about 670 jobs…

[CLICK HERE to read entire article]

City Council Gives Approval to Cat Plan

Pontiac Daily Leader – January 20, 2016

The Pontiac City Council was the latest agreeable party to the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council’s plan to facilitate job retention and growth at Caterpillar. After GLCEDC CEO Adam Dontz gave a short presentation at the Council’s Tuesday night meeting, the governing body voted to join with other area taxing bodies in the project…

[CLICK HERE to Read Entire Article]

2014 Heartland Annual Update: GLCEDC partners with Heartland Community College to create Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program

Download flyer: DOWNLOAD

Committee Approves Incentive plan for Pontiac Caterpillar Facility

January 8, 2016 – WEEK /

PONTIAC, Ill. — The Livingston County Finance Committee has approved a plan to help give Caterpillar a greater incentive to stay in the county…


Committee OKs Incentive Plan for Pontiac Cat Plant

January 7, 2015 – Pontiac Daily Leader

In what may prove to be a crucial move in helping Caterpillar weather a storm of macroeconomic industrial downturn, the Livingston County Finance Committee on Wednesday approved a measure, organized by the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council CEO Adam Dontz, in which the county will provide the local branch of the multinational company retention, job creation and tax abatement incentives, in order to ensure that the plant has greater incentive to stay here…


City Officials Reflect On Year, What’s Ahead

Pontiac Daily Leader – Posted Jan. 2, 2016 at 2:49 PM

As the City of Pontiac enters a new year, big things are on the horizon for the community — and it’s worth reflecting on that which has already come. On Thursday, Pontiac’s Tourism Director Ellie Alexander and City Administrator Bob Karls discussed the past and the future of the city’s development…



Grundy County to Vote on Joining with Livingston County on a New Enterprise Zone

Published: Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015 11:01 p.m. CST

MORRIS – The Grundy County Board is expected to vote Tuesday on the Livingston County Enterprise Zone, which also would include portions of Grundy County in the Dwight area and at the Interstate 55 and Route 47 interchange.

Adam Dontz with the Livingston County Economic Development Council said the proposed new enterprise zone covers land in Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Fairbury, Forrest, Chatsworth and Flanagan, as well as rural areas.

“We are looking to bring in logistics warehouse distribution centers and manufacturing,” he said Friday.

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity announced in November it will move forward with the certification of 49 enterprise zones the Illinois Enterprise Zone Board approved in August.

The enterprise zone program was created in 1982 to stimulate economic growth and revitalization in depressed areas of the state, according to the website of the IDCEO.

The zones guarantee sales tax abatements, and local taxing districts are free to negotiate further tax incentives within the stimulus areas.

With a change in state law, all of Illinois’ 97 enterprise zones had to be replaced instead of being renewed or extended.

The state DCEO only accepted up to 49 new zones in its first round of applications that were submitted in 2014, according to its website, which means almost half of the existing zones won’t be created in the initial round. The statute keeps the number of enterprise zones at 97, but will award them during a five-year span.

Livingston County did not apply during the first round of applications but will submit an application this month for next year’s zone approval consideration.

Dontz said the Dwight area, which includes portions of Grundy County, makes sense because of the interstate, state highways and two class one railways that go through the community.

Grundy County Administrator Doug Pryor said having a new enterprise zone in the southern portion of the county would be a great opportunity to bring in new businesses and add to the county’s jobs and tax base.

“It’s another tool in the toolbox that gives us competitive incentives from the state to bring business into the county,” he said.

Dontz said it’s also an excellent opportunity to have multi jurisdictional coverage that allows the neighboring counties to work together.


Adam Dontz from the GLCEDC Discusses Economic Development

By Kent Casson
Blade Correspondent

Adam Dontz from the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council appeared before members of the Fairbury City Council Wednesday night.

Dontz discussed an enterprise zone, which is an economic development tool through the state. GLCEDC is trying for a zone here in Livingston County. If a company meets certain criteria, some taxes would be waived.

“What we have is a real collaborative effort in that Livingston County will be supporting this,” Dontz explained. “Some of the likely targets are on the undeveloped land side.”

The Village of Dwight and Grundy County are also supporting the measure. Dontz said the state will award approximately 50 enterprise zones.

According to Dontz, undeveloped parcels of land near Route 24 on the edge of town would be a strong candidate for the zone. PTC Alliance and Technical Metals are two existing businesses which could be put into the zone. Since the application deadline is Dec. 31, the council must make a formal decision at its next meeting. The city will likely need to approve an ordinance and intergovernmental agreement.

In other business, Street Superintendent Martin Steidinger reported the city received the new snow plow. He also requested a Street Committee meeting be held to discuss some issues. The meeting is scheduled for Dec. 9 starting at 6:30 p.m.

Alderman Terry Zimmerman asked if the city received an answer from the insurance company regarding liability for the use of Sunken Park. Previous suggestions included the creation of a skating rink there in the winter. Council members discussed the possibility of adding stairs and even a ramp at the park.
“The park is something we need to keep in the back of our mind,” said Mayor Lynn Dameron.

The council authorized the ordinance for the levy and assessment of taxes for the fiscal year ending Apr. 30, 2016. The ordinance must pass so money can be spent next year, according to the mayor.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the City Council:

  • Approved Fairbury Police Department policy #82.6 which covers the Sex Offender Registration Act. This has been presented to and approved by the city’s union attorney.
  • Applied for a Visa Business Bonus Rewards credit card in the name of the City of Fairbury from Busey Bank.
  • Paid the city’s bills.
  • Announced the winner of the fire department bicycle raffle, which was Karen Munz.


Committee OKs Business Growth Move

Pontiac Daily Leader (Dec 10, 2015)

At Wednesday night’s Livingston County Board Finance Committee meeting, the committee members approved Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council CEO Adam Dontz’s recommendation of an intergovernmental agreement with Grundy County and other governmental entities for an enterprise zone application… [CLICK HERE TO READ ENTIRE ARTICLE]

ICC Orders $66.7 Million Rate Decrease for ComEd Customers

CHICAGO (December 9,  2015) – The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) issued its final order today in ComEd’s Formula Rate Update for distribution or “delivery” of electricity in 2016, reflecting a rate decrease of approximately $66.7 million compared to 2015.

Today’s ruling comes after a thorough review of the proposal submitted by ComEd in April in compliance with the annual rate-setting process established by the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA) or Smart Grid law, which was enacted by the Illinois General Assembly in 2011. The reduction will amount to a decrease of about $1 on the average monthly residential bill starting in January. ComEd’s filing this year reflected a $55 million rate decrease. The ICC ruling also includes additional revenue reductions.

“The smart grid program is delivering on its promise to generate efficiencies and we are pleased to pass-along those savings to our customers by decreasing their electric delivery costs,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO, ComEd.  “The investments in the smart grid program are producing a stronger, more reliable system with fewer outages. Those results mean less operational costs and greater savings for our customers.”

In submitting their annual rate requests, utilities must submit their previous year’s actual expenses and the current year’s projected capital investments. The ICC then has eight months to fully review and make a determination on the rate change request. The formula ratemaking process ensures the transparency required by the Commission and other parties to conduct an efficient yet thorough review of the rate request and requires that any savings be passed on to utility  customers in a timely fashion.

Smart Grid investments are improving the strength and reliability of the electric system. Since 2012, there have been more than 5.8 million avoided customer interruptions due largely to grid modernizations and increased investments in distribution automation or digital “smart switches” that automatically route power around potential problem areas. Outage avoidance has saved customers an estimated $175 million.

ComEd’s reliability performance was in the top 10 percent of comparable U.S. utilities in 2014 and performance continues to improve in 2015 as investments to strengthen and modernize the system are resulting in fewer and shorter customer interruptions. Through June, there were 20 percent fewer customer interruptions during storms. Storm hardening work and storm restoration improvements have resulted in 30 percent faster restoration times.

Through October of this year, ComEd installed 1.8 million digital smart meters that allow for two-way communication between the utility and customers, providing information that enables customers to better manage energy consumption and costs and to access new pricing programs that reward shifting energy usage to lower-demand times of day.  The company will complete the installation of 4 million smart meters in 2018. An upgraded, stronger electric system, fewer power interruptions and greater operational efficiencies will result in additional savings of approximately $2 billion over 20 years.

ComEd is advocating for legislation in Springfield to even more fully leverage the capabilities of the smart grid. This legislation – ComEd’s Future Energy Plan – would expand access to renewable energy, increase energy efficiency, enhance resiliency and security of the system and meet the growing demand among energy consumers for more choice and personalized services.

“Our Future Energy Plan is designed to ensure that customers will be able to realize the full potential of the investments we’re making to modernize our system while laying the foundation for continuous innovation, including Smart City technologies that will enhance quality of life and further establish northern Illinois as a leader in the new energy economy,” said Pramaggiore.

Grundy County to Vote on Joining with Livingston County on New Enterprise Zone

Morris Herald-News
Published: Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015 11:01 p.m. CST

MORRIS – The Grundy County Board is expected to vote Tuesday on the Livingston County Enterprise Zone, which also would include portions of Grundy County in the Dwight area and at the Interstate 55 and Route 47 interchange…. [READ FULL ARTICLE]

OSF HealthCare Raising Minimum Wage For Workers

As both an employer and a Ministry of Catholic health care, OSF HealthCare is called to be socially just and recognize the personal worth and dignity of every person served – including its own Mission Partners (employees).

Effective November 22, 2015, the new minimum wage for all Mission Partners across the OSF HealthCare Ministry will be $10 an hour. Approximately 482 Mission Partners will benefit from the increase, about 3% of the 17,000 person workforce.

OSF HealthCare is an integrated health system owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, based in Peoria, Illinois consisting of 11 acute care facilities in Illinois and Michigan, two colleges of nursing, a physician organization, and an extensive network of home health services.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. The minimum wage in the state of Illinois is $8.25 an hour, in Michigan it is $8.15 an hour. While some national retail companies have announced moves to boost the minimum wage for workers, OSF HealthCare is one of the largest health care systems in Illinois to do so.

“We have made the decision to increase the minimum wage because it is the right thing to do. The adjustment impacts these Mission Partners the most,” said Sister Judith Ann Duvall, O.S.F., Major Superior and OSF HealthCare Board Chairperson in announcing the increase. “Our Sisters deeply value all of our employees and the wonderful service they bring to our Sacred Ministry.”

“This socially just wage is consistent with our Values and the Catholic teaching on the dignity of workers and work,” added Kevin Schoeplein, OSF HealthCare CEO. “Each OSF Mission Partner counts; each of us makes a difference in the way we treat our patients, their families and each other.”

The majority of those who will benefit from the wage increase serve in food service, housekeeping, gift shops, or are members of the guest services team.

“This shows me OSF cares about taking care of its workers – they value us,” said Abby Nicolet, a Food Service Assistant at OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center in Alton for a little over a year. “I am paying for college and want to continue working in the medical field, this will help. Plus, I will be able to help my mom with some bills.”

Trevor Malatek has worked as a Floor Care Technician at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford for about 10 months and is also a college student, studying to be a nurse. “When employees get paid more, they have more pride in their work, so patients benefit, too. OSF didn’t have to do this, but it will have a lot of benefits in the long run.”

“For me, it’s a student loan payment or car payment every month,” explained Rebecca Copeland, a Room Service Ambassador at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, the married mother of a kindergartener who took a starting position to gain more experience within the dietetic department so she can fully use her college degree. “OSF is a great employer, but this is a physical job with long days, so the increase is a positive, encouraging step.”



GLCEDC Appreciates 8 Years of John Ward’s Leadership & Service

The GLCEDC appreciates 8 years of John Ward’s leadership and service.

John Ward Award 10.19.15
Pictured: John Ward (left) and GLCEDC CEO Adam Dontz

Dwight Office & Retail Opportunities Flyers

Office & Retail Opportunities flyers for Dwight, Illinois has been released.

Retail Rental & Commercial & Commercial Land Opportunities: DOWNLOAD
Office & Retail Opportunities: DOWNLOAD

ISU Student Startups to Compete for $100,000+ in Services from Local Companies

ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY (Normal, Illinois) — The clock has started ticking down the days to ISU’s Startup Showcase competition, sponsored by the George R & Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which will be hosted at the Bloomington/Normal Marriott in Uptown Normal on November 13, 2015. The annual event expands each year. New this year, competitors will have the space to showcase their startup and attendees will be voting for a People’s Choice Award.

The Startup Showcase, while sponsored by the Means Center, is open to any ISU student no matter what their major. Startup Showcase has seen past winners come from the College of Education, College of Applied Science & Technology, and College of Business students. This year the finalists will be competing for an awards package of $100,000+ of cash & in-kind professional services as well as mentoring to move their companies forward. Emerging Business Services, Mavidea Technology Group, and many other local startup service providers have come together to support ISU students in making their ideas a reality.

The Startup Showcase is an annual student startup competition that rewards ISU students for (1) intentionally
developing a big value idea, (2) testing sales assumptions with customers, and (3) developing and executing a
business plan model. We reward students for action – for being able to gather information and feedback and react to develop an improved sustainable solution.

Notable winners have been John Luke of Interactive Game Education (, Rob Martin of Open Source Classroom (, Brian Souza of Bizz Baits (, Mike Shannon & Kasey Gandham of Packback Books ( as well as internrocket (

Our fireside chat this year will be hosted by past alums and the topic for discussion will be: Entrepreneurship –
Enabling Your Future.

Who will the winner be of the 2015 Startup Showcase? We are accepting student applications now for the competition and welcome anyone who would like to attend this event. Register to attend the Showcase this year to hear and see all the innovative ideas of the competitors and finalists and interact with these young exciting entrepreneurs of the community. Visit for more information and to register.

The George R and Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Illinois State University ( is working to empower ISU students to engage in entrepreneurial thinking and action. Through a variety of new programs and partnerships, the Means Center exists to help ISU students connect with the resources necessary to turn their ideas into reality, and eventually to start and grow sustainable businesses.

GLCEDC CEO Attends Illinois Harvest Dinner

Last week’s Illinois Harvest Dinner brought together good people, good food and good conversations, all in the perfect farm setting…



Livingston County’s Global Influence

GLCEDC World Map

2016 Heartland Annual Update: Employers see success with Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program (Chinese Edition)

The GLCEDC Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing Program flyer is now available in Chinese.

To download the Chinese Edition, CLICK HERE.    要下载中国版,请点击此处

GLCEDC in Site Selection Magazine

As part of the GLCEDC’s marketing campaign to attract new investment in our region, we’ve placed two full-page ads in Site Selection Magazine — the premier trade industry publication targeted to individuals who recommend sites to companies for their expansions.

Here is a copy of our ad:


Unemployment & Labor Force Statistics

Illinois Unemployment Rate by County (PDF)

Monthly Labor Force Statistics for Economic Development Regions (PDF)

Tax Abatement Plan Updated (July 28, 2015)

The GLCEDC has updated the Tax Abatement Plan information and matrix.

Click here to view the Tax Abatement page.

Business Taking Advantage of Tax Abatement

Article in The Daily Leader newspaper (July 16, 2015)


GLCEDC’s “Insights from Women” Coverage

WJEZ’s coverage of GLCEDC’s “Insights from Women” event.


How Being Different Makes a Difference: Insights from Women (Symposium)


Two Major Businesses Take Advantage of Tax Abatement

By Cynthia Grau/WJEZ News

The Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council made an exciting announcement during the Community Forum with Todd Wineburner Friday morning.

CEO of the GLCEDC Adam Dontz said two major businesses are taking advantage of the tax abatement incentive in Livingston County, which had previously been approved by 15 taxing entities in the county…




Slagel Farms, a GLCEDC Grant Recipient, Receives Praise from Chicago’s Top Chiefs

Article about Slagel Farms, a GLCEDC Grant Recipient, Receives Praise from Chicago’s Top Chiefs.


View Online Article:

Daily Leader: Business Futures venture relies on special workers

Business Futures venture relies on special workers
Pontiac Daily Leader
May 2, 2015

Download the article: VIEW/DOWNLOAD ARTICLE

Livingston County Property Tax Abatement Plan Details

The GLCEDC has released updated details and matrix for the Livingston County Property Tax Abatement Plan.

To download the Plan & Matrix document, CLICK HERE.

GLCEDC Board Members Meet with Gov Rauner and Senator Barickman at Historic Courthouse in Pontiac

GLCEDC Board Members met with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Illinois Senator Jason Barickman at Historic Courthouse in Pontiac on Monday, March 2nd, 2015.

IMG_0027_wordpress2(From left) Illinois Senator Jason Barickman, Livingston County Board Chairman Marty Fannin, Mike McCoy, Mark DeKeersgieter, Bernie Anderson, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, John Ward, GLCEDC Chairman Jon Kilgore, Brad Solberg, GLCEDC CEO Adam Dontz, and GLCEDC Vice Chairman Terry Sullivan.

Daily Leader: City of Pontiac Reinvests in the GLCEDC

City of Pontiac Reinvests in the GLCEDC
Pontiac Daily Leader
February 17, 2015

Download the article: CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Daily Leader: CEDS seen as force for growth

CEDS seen as force for growth (Daily Leader article)

Travis Williams exhibits what Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program intends

Williams exhibits what GLCEDC class intends
Pontiac Daily Leader
January 31, 2015

Download the article: CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

VIDEO: GLCEDC Tax Abatement Signing

Daily Leader: Tax Abatement Signing

Taxing bodies formally agree to tax abatement program
Pontiac Daily Leader
January 22, 2015

Download the article: CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

GLCEDC Community Leadership Award

The Daily Leader Article (12-18-2015)

(Click to download this article.)

Property Tax Abatement (in the News)

Coverage in the local news regarding the Property Tax Abatement for Livingston County:

December 3, 2014 – Fairbury Illinois

December 10, 2014 – PTHS

December 12, 2014 – Livingston County

December 16, 2014 – Pontiac Illinois

January 7, 2015 – Fairbury City Council

Legislative Update Forum – December 9, 2014

Legislative Update 2014

GLCEDC announces a Livingston County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

Economic Plan to Enable Livingston County to Apply for Federal Funds

Public comments are now being taken on Livingston County’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The plan includes goals, objectives, and action items that will enable the county to capitalize on its strengths and opportunities and work towards addressing weaknesses that prevent economic growth. The plan is available for viewing at Comments are being taken through Sunday, December 14, 2014, and may be directed to

The United States Department of Commerce – Economic Development Administration (EDA) requires counties to have an EDA-approved CEDS in order to apply for EDA grant funds. The department offers grant funds for public works, infrastructure, technical, and planning projects that will lead to private investment and the creation of long-term jobs in distressed communities and regions.

The North Central Illinois Council of Governments (NCICG) of Ottawa, Illinois was selected as the consultant for the plan. For more information about NCICG please visit or call 815-433-5830.

GLCEDC Thanks its Golf Outing Sponsors


 Pontiac Daily Leader Advertisement September 20, 2014

Free Brownfields Redevelopment Workshop

Hello, Community Leaders, Planners, and Consultants!

You are invited to attend a free brownfields workshop on October 7, 2014, from 9:30am-3:00pm in Peoria, Illinois, which is being co-hosted by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at WIU, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity and the Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Program at Kansas State University.

Does your community have an abandoned building, old gas station or other potentially contaminated building that is impeding your communities’ future growth? Designed to help communities gain a better understanding of what a Brownfield is, learn how Brownfield revitalization can be a part of your community’s economic development strategy, and hear from state and national leaders on resources available to your community.

Who should attend? Local and regional government officials, not-for-profit economic and community development organizations, lenders and real-estate professionals, property owners, and anyone interested in learning about brownfields or about financial resources for local redevelopment.

For more information contact: John Whalen, IL DCEO,, 309-663-7528
Jolene Willis, IIRA-WIU & KSU TAB,, 309-298-2835

REGISTRATION: There is no charge and lunch will be provided, but registration is required. To register, go to the workshop webpage at:

Please share this information with your colleagues, clients, listservs and anyone you think would benefit from attending this workshop.

For more information, download our flyer here: DOWNLOAD

Senator speaks on budget issues (Daily Leader)

DAILY LEADER | August 1, 2014

Various business leaders, as well as city and county leaders, gathered at Exact Packaging Wednesday for an event that featured Sen. Jason Barickman. The Bloomington Republican touched on budgetary issues, as well as worker’s compensation reform.

Adam Dontz, chief executive officer of the GLCEDC, praised Barickman for being an active participant in listening to the residents of his district and taking those ideas to Springfield.

“The senator is listening to the business community and responding to them to address certain issues with respect to the worker’s compensation to make this a more competitive state in the Midwest,” Dontz said. “The senator has been a great friend of economic development. He’s highly responsive and we’re pleased to have him here today.”

Barickman let the crowd know he understands people may feel the legislature didn’t do its job in Springfield this year. He said last year, the business concerned social issues, like speed limits and concealed carry, while this year was all about finances.

Read more:

SBA 504 Loan Program

Illinois Business Financial Services wants to help small businesses in your community grow through the SBA 504 Loan Program. We work with Economic Development Companies and Chambers of Commerce throughout the state to provide resources to stimulate business growth. Download the following flyer to see how our services can help you!


GLCEDC and Heartland Community College Deliver Results for Local Manufacturers

glcedc_heartlandGLCEDC and Heartland Community College Deliver Results for Local Manufacturers.

Download this news item here: [DOWNLOAD]





Women Business Resources Expo: July 24, 2014

glcedc_womanexpoLearn about business resources from…

  • IL Dept. of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Women’s Business Development
  • Bradley University Small Business Development Center & Turner Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Advantage Illinois  (Institutional Lending; Venture Capital)
  • Workforce Development Programs
  • IL Dept. of Agriculture “Buy Illinois” Initiative, getting your product or service in the market place
  • IL Central Management Services  Business Enterprise Program (BEP)
  • IL Capital Development Board
  • IL Dept. of Employment Security
  • IL Small Business Development Center/Procurement Technical Assistance Center Bradley University
  • IL Treasurer Office “I-CASH” Program
  • US Census Bureau
  • Economic Development Council of Central Illinois (EDC)
  • IL Business Financial Services (IBFS)
  • Affordable Care Act and procurement contracting opportunities for Women-owned business
  • Public/Private sector diversity supplier contract bidding opportunities

Register Now!

To register call (309) 647-5896


New Community Profile Brochure Released

The latest GLCEDC’s Community Profile Brochure has been released (June 27, 2014).

Download it from our Resource Center.

Membership Directory Released

The GLCEDC has released its latest Membership Directory for the summer of 2014.

The directory is available for download here: DOWNLOAD

GLCEDC Community Profile Brochure Released

glcedc_community_profile_pdfThe GLCEDC has released the 2014 version of our GLCEDC Community Profile Brochure.

You can download it here: DOWNLOAD

PBS Show on Pontiac, Illinois

PBS show on Pontiac, Illinois:

Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox Webinars

URBANA, Ill. – Illinois is in fiscal crisis, with no easy solutions. Many tools will be needed to fix the problem, according to policy experts.

The Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox is a virtual resource center providing papers that assess policy options and frame the issues surrounding Illinois’ precarious budget situation. Using high quality academic scholarship, leading policy experts from the University of Illinois provide a nonpartisan overview of the state’s fiscal situation and evaluate the pros and cons of a variety of revenue and spending options.

The U of I Extension Local Government Information and Education Network, in partnership with the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA), will present an opportunity to learn more about this project and interact with the scholars through a series of upcoming webinars.

The webinars will be offered on the second Tuesday of the month beginning at noon. Session topics and speakers include:

May 13 – Toolbox Fundamentals

  • About the Toolbox Project; Christopher Z. Mooney, Director of IGPA

  • Overview of the Economic Situation; David Merriman, UIC, Public Administration

  • The “Do Nothing” Option; J. Fred Giertz, UIUC, Economics

  • Making the 2011 Tax Increase Permanent; Richard F. Dye, UIC, The Fiscal Futures Project


June 10 – Tools to Address Revenue

  • About the Toolbox Project; Christopher Z. Mooney, Director of IGPA

  • Increasing Sin Taxes; Julian Reif and John Schneider, UIUC, Economics

  • Business Tax Options; David Merriman, UIC, Public Administration

  • Sales Tax Options; J. Fred Giertz, UIUC, Economics


August 12 – Tools to Address Spending

  • About the Toolbox Project; Christopher Z. Mooney, Director of IGPA

  • Bending the Curve; Richard Winkel, Director of IGPA Office of Public Leadership

  • Waste and Abuse in Human Affairs Spending; Elizabeth Powers, UIUC, Economics

  • Health Spending; Anthony Lo Sasso, UIC, Health Policy and Administration

  • Better Fiscal Planning; Nancy Hudspeth, UIC, The Fiscal Futures Project


September 9 – Important Questions about Redistricting in Illinois

  • Brian Gaines, UIUC Public Policy; Christopher Z Mooney, Director of IGPA; Richard Winkel, Director of IGPA Office of Public Leadership


Registration is required and can be done at You will be provided log-on information so that you may participate in the program from your home or your office via the Internet.

Each session will be recorded and posted at

The Illinois Budget Toolbox is a project by the Illinois Institute of Government Policy and Public Affairs. The webinar series is presented in partnership with University of Illinois Extension Local Government Information and Education Network.

SBA: Meet the Lenders Event Announced

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is sponsoring a lender/business matchmaking event on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 (2:00pm to 5:00pm) at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Illinois.

This is your opportunity to meet one-on-one with loan officers from SBA-participating lenders. Bring your business plan and discuss your business loan proposal with the lenders.

Learn more by downloading more here: DOWNLOAD

Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program boosts skills of manufacturing workforce

Program boosts skills of manufacturing workforce
Sunday, April 20, 2014
by Lenore Sobota lsobota

PONTIAC – A cooperative effort between the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council and Heartland Community College is providing a more well-rounded workforce for the area’s manufacturers, say those involved in the project.

The second group participating in the “Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing” training program graduated earlier this month, bringing to 26 the number who have completed the six-week, 100-hour program since it began last May.

Eleven of the 12 students in the first class were employed within one month of graduation and Adam Dontz, the EDC’s chief executive officer is expecting similar results from the second class.

Finding skilled, qualified employees is a key issue with economic development, Dontz said.

Manufacturing is the largest employment sector in Livingston County, with a dozen manufacturers providing about 2,500 jobs in the county, Dontz said.

“What we’ve done is married the business community with the academic community and, through that partnership, we’ve been successful,” he said.

A handful to students already had jobs when they started the program, but Dontz said the training makes them more valuable to the company and allows them to move up…


Basic Arc Welding Class Registration

1100 E. Indiana Avenue, Pontiac, Illinois 61764

Thursday and Friday, June 12-13, 2014
Monday through Friday, June 16-20, 2014
Monday through Friday, June 23-27, 2014

8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Total Cost $300

For more information or to sign up, call 815-842-2557
Registration deadline Thursday, June 5, 2014


Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program graduating class of 2014

By Cynthia Grau/Daily Leader
Staff Reporter
April 12, 2014

Fourteen students made it through their program and graduated Friday afternoon and are now looking forward to life in the working world.


The second class of the Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing, a workforce training program offered by the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, walked through commencement ceremonies Friday afternoon at the Livingston County Historic Courthouse.

The students completed 100 hours of instruction led by Heartland Community College faculty at the Pontiac Caterpillar facility with lab instruction at HCC, Normal. Graduates included Maria Blair, Christopher Close, Kurt Keefer, David Mabe, Cindy Pozdol, Sheri Thurston, Kasey Branscum, Joyce Colwell, Kay Grizzle, Danielle Lang, Mitchell Nelson, Kevin Raifsnider and Travis Williams.

After completing the course, graduates are guaranteed an interview at all of the participating businesses. Based on past results, placement rates are anticipated to exceed 90 percent. Participating businesses include Anthony Liftgates, Caterpillar, Exact Packaging, Hoffman Tool, Interlake Mecalux, Grundy-Kankakee-Livingston 1Workforce Investment Board, Quanex1, 1Kerry Group, Manpower1, RKO Saw and Tool1, Selig Sealants, Johnson Press of America, PTC Alliance, Slagel Manufacturing and Technical Metals.

Adam Dontz, CEO of the GLCEDC, greeted graduates and attendees.

“These 14 students are better equipped to either become employed or further their career in manufacturing,” Dontz said.

He added that the program currently has a 100 percent graduation rate and a 92 percent job placement rate, resulting from the first graduating class nine months ago.

“The intent of this program is three-fold. First, we sought to increase the skills and abilities of our local workforce,” Dontz explained. “By doing so, this program has already assisted those who are unemployed gain employment.”

Second, he said, they aim to add value to the single largest employment sector in Livingston County, which is manufacturing. Third of all, the successful completion of the program sends a message to businesses looking to make an investment into Livingston County.

“This is truly a public/private sector partnership,” Dontz said.

Dontz introduced Rob Widmer, president of Heartland Community College, who congratulated graduates on what he called “quite an achievement.”

“It’s a testament to your commitment to your perseverance and I’m sure quite a bit of sacrifice in the process,” Widmer said. “These are the hours you would have been with your family, hours you would have been driving to secure other employment, but this certainly is a testament to your efforts.”

Susan Toher, operations manager for Caterpillar, Inc., gave the day’s commencement address and spoke about the path she took to get to the job she serves currently.

“Sometimes you just have to try something that feels a little uncomfortable and assume that that step is going to lead to another and lead to another step,” Toher said.

She continued, saying her career wasn’t like a ladder, but more of a meandering path, which has worked out for her.

“I hope you take choices and risks and adventures, so you can find your own path,” Toher said.

Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program 2015 graduation ceremony announcement

The Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council (GLCEDC) is announcing the graduation ceremony for the second Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing Skills training program.

“The successful completion of this program marks the largest customized training program provided in Livingston County by Heartland Community College,” said Adam Dontz, CEO of the GLCEDC.

Fourteen students recently completed the 100-hour session developed by Heartland Community College (HCC) and the GLCEDC, with input from close to a dozen Livingston County companies. The public ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, April 11 in Pontiac’s Historic Livingston County Courthouse.

Susan Toher, Operations Manager at Caterpillar Pontiac and HCC Foundation Board member, is the commencement speaker.

The Fundaments of Modern Manufacturing Skills training program helps unemployed and under-employed residents of Livingston County upgrade their workforce readiness. After completing the course, graduates are guaranteed an interview at all of the participating businesses. Based on past results, placement rates are anticipated to exceed 90 percent.

Participating businesses include: Anthony LiftGates, Caterpillar, Exact Packaging, Hoffman Tool, Interlake Mecalus, Grundy, Kankakee, Livingston County Workforce Investment Board, Kerry Group, Manpower, Quanex, RKO Saw & Tool, Selig Sealants, Johnson Press of America, PTC Alliance, Slagel Manufacturing, and Technical Metals.

Classes begin approximately every six months, but could be more often depending on the amount of interested participants.

According to HCC Customized Training Coordinator, Austin Grammer, “This program provides adults with skills essential to Livingston County employers. The addition of these graduates to the workforce will be a definite boon to the local economy.”

Dontz first pitched the idea to the Livingston County Board a little more than a year ago and was given overwhelming support for the program and has since proven its success.

“The GLCEDC brought Livingston County’s manufacturing industry leaders together with Heartland Community College in an effort to enhance the skills of our local workforce. The program curriculum was created as Heartland’s deans sat alongside business leaders who expressed the skills that are needed in today’s sophisticated and computerized manufacturing environment,” Dontz said. “(The time frame) from discussing the needs of Livingston County business leaders to the first class graduating will be approximately six months. This quick and results-orientated action is what it takes to be competitive in today’s business climate and it’s exactly what Livingston County and the GLCEDC are capable of delivering.”

For questions about the program or graduation ceremony, contact Dontz or visit

For more information about Customized Training at Heartland Community College, visit

OSF Partners with Joint Commission Resources

OSF Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center is a leader in Central Illinois for health, and is a strong asset to Livingston County.

OSF has partnered with the Joint Commission Resources to reduce harm.

This video is also available on YouTube here:
Visit OSF’s web site here:

WJEZ podcast on 2014 Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program

WJEZ 98.9 FM Interview with Adam Dontz of the GLCEDC about job training, new members, and more.

Air Date: February 19, 2014


Pontiac Mayor Comments Regarding The GLCEDC

Comments from Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell Regarding the GLCEDC on the WJEZ Community Forum program with Todd Wineburner.

Air date: February 4, 2014

Welding Class to be Offered at LACC

The Livingston Area Career Center (LACC) is offering a BASIC GAS METAL ARC WELDING-MIG WELDING CLASS in February, 2014.

Monday through Thursday, February 3 — February 6, 2014
Monday through Thursday, February 10 — February 13, 2014
Monday through Thursday, February 17 — February 20, 2014

4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Total Cost $300

For more information or to sign up, call 815-842-2557
Registration deadline January 27, 2014


Livingston County Inventors and Entrepreneurs Make News

Livingston County Inventors and Entrepreneurs Make News


Community Profile Now Available

The GLCEDC has released our Community Profile Brochure.

You can download the free brochure in the Resource Center, or by CLICKING HERE.

Podcast with Adam Dontz (Oct 29, 2013)

Adam Dontz, CEO of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council and Tera Graves of the Livingston Area Career Center, talk to WJEZ radio on Tuesday, October 29, 2013.


Agriculture Brochure Available

GLCEDC-brochure-2012The GLCEDC has released our Agriculture Brochure.

This seven page brochure includes information about Livingston County’s Agriculture community, resources, and data.

You can download the free brochure in the Resource Center, or by CLICKING HERE.

Small Business EXPO Sept 2013


Making credit accessible to small businesses and entrepreneurs is crucial to our continued economic recovery. Small businesses employ one-half of all Americans and they account for about 60% of overall job creation. But knowing where to turn for help can often be an intimidating task. The Small Business & Entrepreneur Resource Expo is your opportunity to meet with representatives from many of the organizations providing loans, direct financial assistance and additional types of support to many of the businesses in McLean County.

Get the information you need to help your business grow. Attend the Small Business & Entrepreneur Resource Expo, Tuesday, September 17, 2013 from 8:30-10:30am in the Hansen Student Center at Illinois Wesleyan University. Speak to only the representatives you want to meet with. Get answers to your specific questions. Arrange a consultation targeted to your individual business needs and grow your business.

Organizations and Resources Represented include:

Career Link
City of Bloomington
Economic Development Council of Bloomington-Normal
Heartland Community College – Customized Training
Illinois Business Financial Services
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Illinois Department of Employment Security
Illinois Finance Authority
Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center
International Trade Center / NAFTA Opportunity Center
Procurement Technical Assistance Center
McLean County Chamber of Commerce
McLean/Livingston County SCORE
Small Business Development Center at Illinois State University
United States Department of Agriculture
U.S Small Business Administration

The Small Business & Entrepreneur Resource Expo is FREE, but advance registration is required.

To register, go to and, under the Events tab, click “Online Registration” or call Diane Siron at the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, 309-829-6344.


WJEZ podcast on 2013 Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program

Adam Dontz, CEO of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council talks to WJEZ radio about the successful results of the Manufacturing Skills Training Program.


Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing 2013 Graduation


Luke Smucker
Staff Reporter – Pontiac Daily Leader
Updated Jun. 28, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

Pontiac, Ill.  —

The county commissioners’ room of the Historic Livingston County Courthouse in Pontiac was filled Monday with friends and family, all in attendance to see the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council’s graduation ceremony for the fundamentals of modern manufacturing skills training program.

The program celebrated the graduation of its first group of 12 students. Their successful completion of the program marked the proven success of the largest customized training program in Livingston County provided by Heartland Community College.

The goal of the program, when it was initially presented to the Livingston County Board by GLCEDC’s Chief Executive Officer Adam Dontz on April 11 is twofold: to attract new business to the area and at the same time help local businesses grow. During the board meeting, Dontz reported to board members that area businesses had expressed to him their need for a program which would focus on job training for the manufacturing trade. His proposal was a six-week program, in conjunction with Heartland Community College, which would involve a maximum of 20 students in an effort to enhance the skills of local workers.

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates would be invited to interview at all of the participating businesses. After 90 days of employment, a portion of the funds required to attend the program would be reimbursed from the company back to the education fund.

“Your successful completion of the program will send a message to investors considering Livingston County,” Dontz stated to the graduates. “This public-private partnership and the success of its graduates clearly demonstrates the quality of our labor force, the idea that government and business can work together quickly and swiftly, and most of all, the fact that we are one of the most progressive locations in the state because of how we retain and attract business.”

For Nick Runyon of Fairbury, success in the program translates to opportunity and future financial stability. Runyon was asked to attend the program by his employer, Technical Metals, Fairbury.

Going into the program, the graduate said he had no idea what to expect, but he hoped to come out of the program with an idea of whether or not this was the career path he wanted to pursue.

“I fully support it,” Runyon said of the program. “The things I learned here, when compared with what I learned at Technical Metals — I have a feeling guys are going to come to me now. I will have to train them, but I feel confident that I know what I am talking about. I see the difference this program can make.”

Runyon said he particularly the lessons on quality and safety measures. Runyon said the skills he learned weren’t tailored to his current employer and could be used in any manufacturing business.

“The safety parts are probably the most universal part of the class,” said Runyon. “That was the biggest learning experience for me because all of the companies involved in this don’t do the same thing, but everybody requires safety.”

Graduate Scott Brazzale, who interviewed within 24 hours of graduation, had a job the day after his interview.

“I was really interested in what they did over at Selig Sealing Products,” he said in regards to his new position. “I mentioned that they would be my first choice if I could interview anywhere and I interviewed well.”

Brazzale initially met Brad Gulliford, the plant manager at Selig, when Gulliford was serving as a guest speaker in the class. The employers in the county were able to meet the employees on a smaller scale, which helped make names of those who graduated stand out from the rest.

Brazzale said what he took away from the program was an awareness of the manufacturing process as a whole. It was something he wasn’t aware of prior to attending the class and he came away with an understanding of what it means to be a good employee.

“I am a lot more aware of product quality and how to use instruments to verify quality,” he said. “I also learned a lot about interviewing. Instructors in the class really helped us by going into depth about the interview process. Afterward, I felt much more comfortable and confident with the interviewing when I went to interview for my job.”

After opening comments from Dontz, Jerry Hoffman, the president of Hoffman Tool & Die and Technical Metals, spoke in regards to the next step for the graduates. In particular, he talked about the interview process. He started off by stating that while it takes about five years to become a machinist, that time span is significantly decreased for those who complete and learn from the GLCEDC’s program. He then focused on the importance of interviewing well and the importance of staying employed at the same place. He stated that 70 percent of people in today’s workforce dislike their job. In fact, he said the millennial generation, on average, will switch jobs once a year, a statistic that makes it hard for employers to consider a potential employee for hire.

To those taking part in the interview process upon graduation — some were presently employed — Hoffman suggested graduates should keep in mind the notion that the person who is interviewing them was hired because they are good at sifting the bad employees from those who would be an attribute to the company.

“Think about the impression you are making to the employer,” he implored. “Don’t expect a company to give you anything. Be willing to invest your own time learning and come in with a good track record. It’s difficult to award a revolving door. Remember, as an employee, your job is to give the company a chance.”

Those graduating included: William Aldridge, William Brennan, Kenneth Fullerton, Alan Lewis, Jr., Larry Payton, Jr., Trenton Steffen, Scott Brazzale, John Coleman, Jason Gorbet, Herby Matic, Nick Runyon and Timothy Young.

Pontiac Daily Leader Article Link:

Illinois Economic Development Guide Magazine

GLCEDC Board approves funds for Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program

by Cynthia Grau
April 12. 2013 1:18PM

Board approves GLCEDC funds for skill training

Adam Dontz, chief executive officer of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council approached the Livingston County Board Thursday evening to request approval of granting funds for a program that will bring education to those interested in the manufacturing field.

The $42,900 requested had already been approved by the finance committee for the Manufacturing Skills Training Program, but had to be presented to the full board for a final vote. He said that the purpose of the GLCEDC is to attract new businesses to the area, but to also help businesses grow. He said in working with several local manufacturing businesses in Livingston County and the surrounding areas, he has learned of the importance of a job training program focused on manufacturing skills.

Dontz explained that has been working with Heartland Community College to create a 100-hour, six-week training program. Each class will have a maximum of 20 students, who not only have to meet specific requirements but also pass drug tests. After completing the course, the students are guaranteed an interview at all of the participating businesses. After being employed for 90 days, a portion of the tuition for the program will be reimbursed from the company back to the revolving education fund.

The Livingston County Board demonstrated its continued support of creating jobs and spurring local investment by supporting a manufacturing skills training program spearheaded by the GLCEDC and the local manufacturing industry. The GLCEDC brought Livingston County’s manufacturing industry leaders together with Heartland Community College in an effort to enhance the skills of our local workforce. The program curriculum was created as Heartland’s deans sat alongside business leaders who expressed the skills that are needed in today’s sophisticated and computerized manufacturing environment,” he said. “(The time frame) from discussing the needs of Livingston County business leaders to the first class graduating will be approximately six months. This quick and results orientated action is what it takes to be competitive in today’s business climate and it’s exactly what Livingston County and the GLCEDC are capable of delivering.”

After several comments from board members in support of the measure, as well as a few worried about funding another program, the board voted approve the request, with only Carolyn Gerwin and Mark Runyon voting against it. Dontz said he was happy with the outcome.

If folks are interested in enrollment information for the class they should contact Sandy Erschen at the Pontiac Manpower Office at 815-844-5091.”

Now Recruiting Manufacturing Training Students

Manpower Now Recruiting 20 Manufacturing Training Students

Apply today

Tuition $2,235
If you qualify your cost is $90
Train for Your Future in Manufacturing. Partners are ready to invest in you and turn your abilities into employable skills.  Several Livingston County Manufacturing Employers Are Guaranteeing Interviews!  Heartland Community College has a comprehensive, customized training program providing you the skills local manufactures really want.

This six-week training program is geared toward adult learners



Call Manpower to get your assessments started to see if you qualify

  • Ability Train to Gain Skill
  • Math Technical Math
  • Reading Reading for Information
  • Proper etiquette Work Ethics
  • Safety Manufacturing Safety
  • Attention to detail Quality Work
  • Mechanically inclined Principles of Manufacturing
  • Call Manpower at 815-844-5091

New Podcast with Adam Dontz

Adam Dontz, CEO of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council [GLCEDC] talks to WJEZ radio about specific initiatives the GLCEDC is undertaking to facilitate job creation and economic growth in Livingston County.


The New GLCEDC Web Site

As of April 15, 2013, we’ve launched our brand new web site!

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