Monday, February 8, 2016

Innovative Financing for Small Business

February 25, 2016 * 8:30 am
Peoria NEXT Innovation Center
801 W Main St., Peoria

Networking & breakfast 8:30 AM   Presentation 9:00 - 9:40 AM
Q & A until 10:00 AM

Are you looking to start or grow your business?  Learn how to turn your ideas into reality!  In this special opportunity sponsored by the City of Peoria, the County of Peoria and Illinois Business Financial Services, representatives will demonstrate how to financially structure your project and receive the most attractive financial terms.  Creative financial solutions with attractive terms can make a big difference.  Learn how low-interest, fixed-rates, flexible terms, and subordinate financing can be used to move your project forward.

Go to to register for this Free Event!

Beer, Wine & Spirits

Savant Capital Management Receives Standard of Excellence Certification

Savant Capital Management,, one of the nation’s largest independent registered investment advisory firms today announced it has received the Service Provider Certification for adhering to the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) standard of excellence for Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) 3(16) Plan Administrators. Savant is among one of the first organizations in the nation to be independently certified in this role.

The Service Provider certification is an independent recognition of an Administrator’s conformity to the relevant practices and criteria within the American Society of Pension Processionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) Standard of Practice and the standard “Prudent Practices for Investment Stewards” published by fi360 Inc. The certification implies that the firm can demonstrate adherence to the industry’s best practices, and is positioned to serve fiduciaries such as Investment Managers and Investment Stewards.

Savant has been certified for various plan administrator functions as regulated by ERISA, which include both fiduciary and administrative functions. The firm’s fiduciary functions include selection of plan providers, interpretation of the terms of the plan and making decisions on claims for benefits. It also includes authorizing distributions, loans and any other plan transactions, managing fiduciary governance and maintaining documentation, and signing all attestations required in governmental filings, including Form 5500.

The firm’s administrative functions include serving as a single point of contact for the plan sponsor, service providers and plan participants related to administrative matters, reviewing plan design for enhancements and modifications and disseminating enrollment materials to new participants. Other administrative functions include preparing and maintaining IRS approved plan documents, determining employee eligibility, calculating benefits and applying other benefit rules and preparing required employee communications.

CEFEX conducts annual assessments according to the international standard ISO 17021. This standard serves as the foundation for facilitating and recognition of CEFEX certifications. The assessment process involves a detailed review of plan documents, policies and procedures followed by interviews with key personnel.  

Hopedale Medical Foundation Seeking Scholarship Applications

Hopedale Medical Foundation is again accepting applications from high school seniors and college freshmen for its Spring 2016 Scholarship Awards.  The Foundation has awarded over $500,000 in scholarships to area students since 1980.

All public High School Seniors, College Freshman, and Private and Home-Schooled Seniors whose permanent residence has been within the following school districts for a minimum of one year prior to application are eligible:  Olympia, Tremont, Delavan, Hartsburg/Emden, Deer Creek/Mackinaw and Midwest Central.  Applications may be picked up at your high school counselor’s office or at the HMC Administration building located at 107 Tremont Street in Hopedale.  Applications are also available online at

Applications must be received in the HMC Administration office by Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 4:00 pm.
The following scholarships will be awarded:
1.     $1,000 Neil Alford, Jr. Scholarship.
2.    $1,000 Phyllis Martin Nursing Scholarship.
3.    $1,000 Orville Augsburger/Dorene Oehler Scholarship.
4.    $1,000 David Eckhardt Scholarship.
5.    $1,000 Founder’s Scholarship.

All students entering the healthcare or agricultural field are eligible.

Applications are judged by an independent panel of judges who will review the applicants’:
          ACT/SAT Scores                      Financial Need (OPTIONAL)
          Class Standing                          Counselor’s Recommendation
          Applicant’s Narrative                Other Favorable Recommendations

          Community/Extra-curricular Involvement

Pekin Hospital Foundation To Host Beer, Wine & Spirits Tasting

The Pekin Hospital Foundation will host its annual Beer, Wine & Spirits Tasting on March 11th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Pekin Country Club in Pekin, Illinois.
Individual tickets for the Beer, Wine & Spirits Tasting are $50, with proceeds to benefit the Pediatric Unit at the new Medical Office Building. The fundraiser will feature a silent auction and entertainment by the Corn Wolves. For tickets contact Director of Fund Development Sherry Semonis at 309-353-0983 or

Part of Progressive Health Systems, the Pekin Hospital Foundation provides a direct channel for donors and volunteers to support Pekin Hospital’s mission of improving the health and well-being of the community with love, compassion and extraordinary care. For more information visit

Friday, February 5, 2016

Children's Advocacy Center Hosted February After Hours

Nearly 50 chamber members and their guests attended the February 4th Business After Hours hosted by the Tazewell County Children's Advocacy Center.  They enjoyed refreshments, networking and an opportunity to learn more about the mission of this important community agency.  You can see more pictures from this and other chamber events at

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Unland Companies Announces Leadership Changes

The Unland Companies has announced that it has made some changes in its senior management roles to focus on continued growth and success of the agency. 

Afton Booth, CIC, CSRM, was named Chairman of the Board. The former President, Booth has been with The Unland Companies for over 35 years in various capacities, including sales, sales management and as Vice President. He will continue his long-term client relationships while developing new business opportunities, mentoring existing agents and reaching out to the marketplace for acquisition possibilities that will assist with the company’s growth plans. Booth is now accessible in both the Pekin and East Peoria offices.

A 25-year employee and the former Vice President, Patrick Taphorn, CIC, CSRM, has been promoted to President. Taphorn’s experience in insurance sales and management, along with his proven accomplishments with the Unland sales force and senior management, have helped to equip him for the position. He continues to oversee the growth at The Unland Companies, while taking on some of the administrative tasks previously handled by Booth.

“The Unland Companies has been a long-time insurance partner in Central Illinois over the last 75 years,” Taphorn said. “Our employees are exceptional in what they do for our clients and this service will not change. The shifts in titles and subsequent duties assigned those individuals will position the company very well for further growth, enhancing both our commercial and personal product expertise while expanding our geographic reach. This natural succession will assure that The Unland Companies remains a leader in the insurance industry in Central Illinois.” 

Bill Shock, CBC, continues as Executive Vice President and will take on more administrative duties to manage the ongoing growth of the agency, while still maintaining his role as an insurance advisor for his many clients. He joined The Unland Companies in July of 1989, but owned and operated The Shock Agency prior to that. He continues to oversee the Personal Lines Division and Benefits Division at the company, including assisting and guiding current and future clients toward Affordable Health Insurance Products.

An agent with the company since 2013, Nate Rugaard, CIC, has been promoted to Vice President. His technical knowledge of industry policies and risk management has helped to develop the company’s client base. Rugaard has taken over Taphorn’s responsibilities and oversees the existing sales force. In addition to developing new talent, he will be focused on growing the overall agency production.

An employee-owned company, The Unland Companies is a full-service, independent insurance agency providing broad personal and commercial insurance coverage, human resource services and financial services at an affordable cost, backed by superior service.  For additional information, call 1-888-874-8408 to speak to a representative.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Chamber Connection

Check out this weeks Chamber Connection! 

Savant Capital Management Ranked Among the Top 10 RIA Firms in the Nation

Savant Capital Management, a nationally recognized fee-only wealth management firm headquartered in Rockford, IL, with offices in 11 locations in three states, including Peoria, has been recgonized by Financial Planning magazing as a top 150 Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) Firm.

For the second year in a row, Savant has landed a spot among the top 10 largest independent financial planning firms and is now ranked as the ninth largest advisory firm in the United States. This list was created by Financial Planning magazine and captures independent fee-only planning firms that remain free of affiliations with broker-dealers, insurance firms, banks and large outside investors.


CEFCU received a 5-Star or “Superior” rating – the highest rating awarded  – by BAUERFINANCIAL, an independent organization that has been analyzing the performance of all financial institutions since 1983.  This rating indicates CEFCU is a safe, financially-sound credit union that is operating well above regulatory capital requirements.  BAUERFINANCIAL rates credit unions based on asset quality, capital adequacy, profitability, historical trends, reserves, and regulatory compliance.

               As of the end of December, CEFCU’s assets were $5.3 billion.  Members’ savings totaled over $4.6 billion, and loans outstanding over $3.9 billion.  CEFCU savings plans are federally insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a U.S. Government Agency.

   With assets over $5.3 billion, CEFCU serves over 314,000 members through 20 central Illinois Member Centers and 3 Member Centers in Santa Clara County, California; the CEFCU Financial Center; the Money Center 24 ATM Network; CEFCU’s website,; CEFCU’s Mobile website,; the surcharge-free CO-OP ATM Network; and the CU Service Center Shared Branch Network. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Best of Peoria

Peoria Magazines is pleased to introduce the Best of Peoria: a list of the people, places and things that make Peoria the best place to live, work and play… according to YOU! We know you know why you love where you live. So tell us! Together, let’s celebrate what makes Peoria great.
Here’s the skinny. We came up with 30 initial categories. You tell us who’s best in any or all of them; the top three nominations in each category will then move on to open voting. Nominations must be located within the Tri-County region (Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties). The winners will be revealed in a special section of Peoria Progress this summer.
Nominations in the following categories will be accepted February 1, 2016 – March 18, 2016!  
Arts & Culture
  • Best First Friday stop
  • Best visual artist
  • Best performing artist
  • Best theater production
  • Best advocate for the arts
  • Best cultural attraction
Food & Drink
  • Best cup o’ joe
  • Best work lunch
  • Best dinner date
  • Best watering hole
  • Best chef
  • Best bang for your buck
  • Best workplace
  • Best customer service
  • Best company for young professionals
  • Best company for philanthropy
  • Best company for innovation
  • Best company with the brightest future
Sports & Recreation
  • Best sports team
  • Best festival
  • Best park/trail
  • Best place to work out
  • Best pet-friendly place
  • Best place for family fun
Community Life
  • Best local celebrity
  • Best neighborhood
  • Best scenic view
  • Best fundraising event
  • Best advocate for Peoria
  • Best kept city secret

NOMINATE people, places and things in 30 categories from 2/1 to 3/18 at
VOTE for your favorites from 4/15 to 6/1. (Drum up votes with the #bestofpeoria hashtag on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!
WINNERS will be revealed in mid-July.

QUESTIONS? Email us at

Sunset Hills Valentine's Special

Tazewell County Partnership for Inclusive Employment

Membership Renewals

Thanks to the following employers who recently renewed their investment in the mission of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce.

3-Star MVP
East Court Village, LLC
Excalibur Seasoning Company
Liberty Village of Pekin
UnityPoint Clinic - Pekin

2-Star MVP
Excel Foundry & Machine
Pacific Ethanol Pekin, Inc.
Tazewell Machine Works

1-Star MVP
Hallmark House Nursing Center
Midwest Engineering Associates, Inc.
Pekin Public Schools #108
Savant Capital Management
Syngenta Seeds

Classic Members
Bard Optical
Carney's Insurance Store, Inc.
Deverman Advertising
DHS/Division of Rehabilitation Services
First United Methodist Church
Getz Manufacturing (Amerex Corp)
Kelley Construction Contractors, Inc.
Otto Baum Co., Inc.
Pekin Public Library
Peoria Journal Star
S and D Cleaning Services, Inc.
Steger's Furniture
The Stove Shop
Total Dental Care
Tractor Supply Company
Udry Jewelers
YWCA of Pekin

Beachbody Super Saturday

Independent Beachbody Coach, Teresa Mack and several members of her Team of Coaches, the “#CrushingCoaches”, recently attended a Beachbody Super Saturday event in Bloomingdale, Illinois.    
Teresa and her Team had the opportunity to attend a “Meet & Greet” with Beachbody’s CEO, Carl Daikeler and 21 Day Fix Celebrity Trainer, Autumn Calabrese.  
The Super Saturday was hosted by the Chicago Market Council.
Team #CrushingCoaches includes the following Coaches:  Teresa Mack, Jeany Righi, Julie Antonini, Linda Ten Haken, Bill Calvert, Melida Heien, Lisa Strobridge, Bridgette Angelo, Cody Salem, Blake Bussell, Ashley Antonini, Stacy Bolen, Dawn Depeugh, Cathy Geier, Grace Friederich, Kristi Lawson, Jill Cagle, Teri Gregory, Jolene McQuade, Derek Shepler, Angela Arnold, Annette Byrd Davis, Jillian Thomas, Abby Ten Haken, Corwin Ten Haken, and Cheryl Ricca. 
Pictured from left to right are:  Shirley Bonnom, Linda Ten Haken, Cheryl Ricca, Teresa Mack, Julie Antonini, & Jeany Righi. 

Illinois American Water Announces 2016 Environmental Grant Program; Applications are due April 1, 2016

– Illinois American Water announced today that the application process is now open for its 2016 Environmental Grant Program.  The program supports innovative, community-based environmental projects that improve, restore or protect the watersheds through partnerships.

The company will award grants of up to $10,000. The program is designed to support diverse types of activities, such as watershed cleanups, reforestation efforts, biodiversity projects, streamside buffer restoration projects, wellhead protection initiatives and hazardous waste collection efforts.

"Illinois American Water is committed to protecting water supplies through outreach and education. This program is another way to help communities in this effort,” said Bruce Hauk, Illinois American Water President.

To qualify, proposed projects must be located in an Illinois American Water service area and:
·         address a source water or watershed protection need in the community
·         be completed between May 1, 2016 and November 30, 2016.
·         be a new or innovative program for the community, or serve as a significant expansion to an existing program
·         be carried out by a formal or informal partnership between two or more organizations
·         provide evidence of sustainability

In 2015, Illinois American Water issued six grants totaling $23,515 to the following organizations:
- The Stream Discovery Released in the East program received a $5,000 grant.  The program, which is administered by the National Great River Research and Education Center in Alton fills a void in today’s education by providing teachers with tools to engage and educate students about aquatic resources.  Students participate in hands-on stream monitoring and research.  The program was expanded to include classrooms in the Champaign and Lincoln areas.
- The Hickory Creek Watershed Bio-Blitz project received a $2,915 grant to conduct a one-day aquatic assessment where community volunteers within Hickory Creek watershed will team up with biologists to help collect and sort macro invertebrate.  More than 100 attendees participated, including K-12 students via pre and post-blitz lesson plans.
- The Peoria Art Guild’s Rainwater Revival received their requested grant of $2,500 in full.  The Rainwater Revival project addresses Peoria’s sewer system overflow concerns.  The Peoria Art Guild will collaborate with area schools to create unique artistic rain basin collection systems to reduce water fun off in downtown Peoria, raise awareness and implement an innovative use of water in Peoria.
- The Peoria Riverfront Museum received a $4,100 grant for an Education Garden project. The 1,500 square foot garden is used during summer camp, summer classes and programming during the weekly Riverfront Market on Saturday mornings.
- The City of South Beloit received a $4,000 grant for the community’s Meet Me at the Confluence 2 project.  This the second phase of a project that began last year to remove invasive species along Turtle Creek.  The restoration project demonstrates the City’s commitment to realizing the vision of the Confluence as a focus for natural education and restoration of native ecosystems.
- The Conservation Technology Information Center received a $5,000 grant for the Indian Creek Watershed project which focuses on a farming in watersheds.  A series of success story vignettes were produced to educate on successful conservation systems including benefits, data and insight from leading farmers on adopting priority best practices in real-world situations.

Grant information and application forms can be found online at  Applications must be postmarked by April 1, 2016, and mailed to Karen Cotton at Illinois American Water, 7500 North Harker Drive, Peoria, Illinois 61615 or emailed to E-mail is preferred.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tazewell County on Best Places to Get A Mortgage List

SmartAsset, a New York financial technology company, recently released their second annual study on the Best Places to Get a Mortgage. The study determines the top markets by comparing the likelihood of mortgage approval by county, in addition to mortgage rates, average five-year borrowing costs, and property taxes. Tazewell County cracked the list at number 7 in Illinois, up from 28 in 2015.

Check out the table below to see how Tazewell County compares to the leaders in Illinois:

Loan Funding Rate
5 Year Borrowing Costs
Property Tax
Annual Mortgage Payment
Best Mortgage Markets Index
Wabash, IL
Menard, IL
Scott, IL
Richland, IL
Stark, IL
Fayette, IL
Tazewell, IL
Sangamon, IL
Adams, IL
Pike, IL

This free study is distributed annually to community leaders in the ranking areas.