Saturday, January 23, 2016

8 Tips For Economic Developers Hoping To Harness The Power Of Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs historically have been on the sidelines of economic development and planning discussions, as economic growth agencies prioritized strategies to encourage big companies and manufacturers to relocate or build new operations in their communities

Taking people ‘to where they want to be’

Law School students help struggling small-time entrepreneurs flourish

Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Illinois Getaway Favorite - Carroll County

Sit back, relax, and enjoy all that Carroll County has to offer. Located in northwest Illinois, Carroll County is filled with small town friendliness, historic charm and natural beauty. Rolling hills and scenic drives greet you as soon as you enter our area. The magnificent Mississippi River shimmers in the sun and provides a great back drop for outdoor adventures. Old buildings, enchanting shops, Victorian homes and picturesque churches fill our communities and invite you in to stay a while.

Known as the “Hidden Treasure” of NW Illinois, Carroll County flourishes with unique traveling experiences including a historic site listed in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, an antique store with a “Mad Hatter” theme, airboat rides on the Mighty Mississippi, a real haunted house, rock climbing, a paint ball course and the longest running summer stock theater in the state, Timber Lake Playhouse.

Come See more at:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Checklist for sustainability

by Sally J. Patterson

Funders always want to see evidence of long-term viability from their grantees. But now, with funds tighter and needs greater than ever, demonstrating sustainability is critical. Use Sally J. Patterson's 21-question checklist to see how your organization measures up.

Clear vision

Does the organization have a clear mission, guided by a clear set of values and embraced by all?
Does the organization have a shared vision of where it is headed set down in a strategic plan?
Does the organization have a clear sense of what differentiates it from others that provide similar programs and services?

Strong leadership

Is the board fully engaged and supportive of the organization?
Is the board representative of all stakeholders served by the organization?
Does the organization have a strong executive director and senior leadership team?
Do members of the leadership team embrace the same principles for managing the current economic situation?

Solid financial footing

Does the organization have diverse funding sources?
Is the organization not overly dependent on a single funding source?
Has the organization explored alternative funding sources?
Does the organization have good relationships with its funders based on mutual respect, integrity, and transparency?

Essential programs and services

Are current programs and services based on the strengths of the organization?
Are current programs and services the most important for meeting the needs of clients and constituents?
Has the organization considered partnering or sharing responsibility for existing programs and services with partner organizations?

Partnerships and collaborations

Has the organization identified key partners that share its mission and vision?
Does the organization work closely with other nonprofits to expand its capacity and gain access to resources that are not available within the organization?
Has the organization developed a plan of action for collaborations that stresses the mutual benefits of working together and defines specific roles and responsibilities?


Does the organization have a communications plan for keeping all of its stakeholders informed during these tough economic times?
Is the organization striving for an open discussion and transparency to build trust with its key stakeholders?
Has the organization involved the board and other community partners in its communication outreach?
Have feedback mechanisms been instituted to ensure that the dialogue is a two-way communication with those who are invested in the organization?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Wield Power at Work

By Dennis McCafferty on 2010-10-04

"Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac," Henry Kissinger once said. But how do you get it? You need a long-term, focused series of strategies, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of the new book, Power: Why Some People Have It - and Others Don't (HarperBusiness/available now). Pfeffer explores the techniques of power players like Kissinger, the Clintons, and Jack Welch to reveal common traits. For starters, none of these figures let daily distractions steer them off course. "It pains me to see talented people get left behind in a game where they don't know the rules to play successfully," Pfeffer says. "And it's worse to see them follow success tips based upon wishful thinking. Power is like any other kind of kinetic force - energy provides momentum. The effort required to succeed against opposition in addition to focus ensures that such energy is not diffused across too many people or objectives." Pfeffer is a professor of organizational behavior at the graduate school of business at Stanford University. For more about him and his book, click here.

Understand the Game
Professionals with "very good" performance ratings are only 12% percent more likely to be promoted than those who receive "good" ratings.

Be Brutally Honest With Yourself
"A man's got to know his limitations," said Dirty Harry. Don't pretend to have skills you don't

Get Out of Your Own Way
Don't volunteer or allow yourself to be volunteered for projects that will highlight on your shortcomings.

Satisfy Your Superiors
Find out what matters most to those who can give you more power, and make their agendas your agenda.

Deflect Credit Upward
Let the boss own success. Your role will be clear enough in time, and your managers will appreciate your grace.

Don't Be Too Modest
Highlight your accomplishments in appropriate ways when organizational plans are discussed.

Emerge as an Expert
Find opportunities to speak before work-related groups; gain visibility with a thoughtful blog or Twitter account.

Stroke Your People
Make those who work for you feel good about what they do. They'll perceive you as a leader and encourage your advancement.

Add Value
Angle for roles on high-profile projects with big payoffs for the company.

Act Like You Belong
Speak with authority. Be direct and firm, but not harsh, angry or easily rattled.

Embrace a Crisis
Problems are chances to show off your leadership IQ by staying cool and focused upon the task at hand.

Choose Your Battles
Professionals increase power when they are willing to walk away from an opportunity if terms fall short of their needs.

Don't Give Power Back
Appeasement leads to more demands. Stand your ground.

Believe in What You Do
Just getting ahead is not a worthy objective; keep a moral compass.

Friday, October 1, 2010

6 Ways Tech Can Grow Your Business Now

By: Jeffrey L. Wilson

Drawing from the real-world experiences of six our's recent SMB Innovators, here six great technology tips for growing your business

Facebook. Formotus. Twitter. Venmo. Vimeo. Zendesk. Some of these names will sound familiar, others may not, but they all have one thing in common: they can help you grow your business. Spanning social networking to mobile payments to customer service care, these services can give your company the extra pop that it needs to succeed. Drawing from the real-world experiences of six our PCMag's recent SMB Innovators, here six great technology tips for growing your business.

#1 – Upgrade Your Customer Support Software
Featuring clientele who produces more than 4,000 episodes a day, Blip.TV, a small, 30-person company, discovered that taking care of its customers' needs would be no easy task. Realizing that it needed assistance in managing customer care, Blip.TV turned to Zendesk, a help-desk company that serves more than 5,000 businesses, including MSNBC and Twitter. Learn how Zendesk has helped Blip.TV smoothly tackle customers' issues, and how it can help you, too.

#2 – Make Payments Mobile
Aaron Blanco, owner of The Brown Coffee Company (a tech-savvy cafe in San Antonio, Texas), uses multiple means of communication to reach out to customers. Blanco uses Twitter to inform them of when he's switching brews, Google Places to offer clients a free drink, and the most innovative tool, Venmo (a free, easy-to-use, SMS and Web-based payment network based on a concept of mutual trust) to deliver mobile payments. Find out how how mobile payments can benefit your company.

#3 – Use Social Networks Services to Engage Customers
Many restaurants offer freebie discounts to FourSquare and Groupon users, but if you're catering to a high-end crowd, you may want to go a more high-end route. Kittichai is one such business; it uses Facebook and Twitter updates to promote sales, and a Web site that gives visitors a virtual tour of the location. The result? A restaurant that sees 60% of its reservations come from the Web. Free Wi-Fi, a forthcoming iPhone app, and a Village Vines partnership looks to promote additional growth. If you've considered dabbling in social network, but have yet to make the jump, Kittichai's story may prove intriguing.

#4 – Don't Overlook an E-mail Campaign
E-mail may no longer be seen as cutting edge, but it can prove a valuable tool. Croft Global Travel, a tech savvy travel agency, sends out monthly e-mails to over 600 subscribers describing upcoming trips, and its proven to be an effective motivator (other than repeat customers), to get potential travelers to book trips. Read on to discover how a simple e-mail newsletter, when used properly, and net big results.

#5 – Engage Customers Using YouTube and Web Forums
Bolstered by affordable software, Web forums, and online video, Mark Mankiewicz's String Theory YoYo has carved out a successful niche selling premium yo-yos. Mankiewicz' unveiled two new yo-yos on String Theory YoYo's Facebook page, mixes it up with fans in online forums, utilizes YouTube and Vimeo to spotlight his sponsored yo-yo team's skills, and occasionally uses Twitter to make announcements—although he's admittedly not much of a fan of the service. Check out how to communicate better with customers using video and forums.

#6 – Save Money, Time, and the Environment by Going Paperless
Bayview Plaza Pharmacy is moving toward a completely paperless business, and in doing so, is saving time, thousands of dollars, tons of trees, and maybe even a few lives. The company uses Formotus and SureScripts to create custom forms and send them over an e-prescription network. Not only does this eliminate the need to rifle through 6 to 8 cases of paperwork (totaling 30,000 to 40,000 sheets every couple of months), but it helps Bayview Plaza Pharmacy stay competitive with big guns like CVS and Wal-Mart by offering free delivery to its customers.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Four Key Areas Where IT Drives Business Results

By Ericka Chickowski on 2010-09-27

Researchers from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas and Sybase explored the relationship between data management and business results. Improvements in variables including quality, usability, intelligence, remote accessibility and sales mobility were linked to improvements in metrics used to assess financial performance at Fortune 1000 companies. "Despite decades of IT investment in information technology, the direct correlation between those investments and the financial performance of the business has eluded senior decision-makers," Anitesh Barua, distinguished teaching professor and lead researcher at University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement. "This is the first study that quantifies the relationship between incremental improvements in data and key performance metrics of businesses today. Previous studies tell us neither the magnitude of the effect on performance nor what it takes to improve the attributes of data. We are encouraged by our findings and expect the business community to take notice."

1. Employee Productivity
Typically defined and measured by sales per employee, employee productivity grows 14.4% given a 10% increase in data usability.
The median sales per employee at organizations studied was $388,000; improving data management could increase by $55,900 per year.

2. Return on Equity
This key number increases by 16% when goosed by 10% jumps in data quality and sales mobility.
A company with the study's median income of $410.47 million would make an additional $65.67 million per year through better data management.

3. Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)
Efficiency in allocating capital edges up 1.4% with a 10% increase in sales mobility.
A company with $2.144 billion in capital would increase net income by $5.4 million every year through data management improvements.

4. Return on Assets
Efficient use of resources to generate income increases by 0.7 percent with a 10% improvement in intelligence and remote accessibility.
Better data management would net the average Fortune 1000 company an extra $2.87 million in income.