Local Job Growth
Central Illinois has added nearly 5,000 more jobs since last year, according to a second-quarter economic report from Bradley University. Manufacturing jobs were up 5.3 percent compared to first-quarter 2012, and up 10 percent compared to a year ago. Healthcare and professional/business service jobs have also increased since last year, up 3.5 and 4.4 percent respectively.
Fuel Economy Research
Caterpillar Inc. is revving up for new engine research. The manufacturing powerhouse recently received a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct research on high-strength, alloy truck engines. The project, which is part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to improve fuel economy standards by 2025, aims to develop robust, lighter-weight and more efficient diesel engine components by 2016. Reducing a vehicle’s weight by just 10 percent can increase fuel economy between six and eight percent.
A Glut of Government
That’s a lot of red tape! According to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the State of Illinois leads the nation in the number of local governments, with a whopping 6,968 units. That’s 2,000 more than second-place Pennsylvania! Since the bureau’s last official count in 2007, only 26 units have been eliminated, or fewer than 0.5 percent. At the last tally, 110 units existed in Tazewell County, 91 in Peoria County and 66 in Woodford County. A range of state officials have called for a more streamlined state government, including Gov. Pat Quinn, with his recent proposal to consolidate many of the state’s school districts.
Farming Goes Mobile
A local consulting firm recently released data showcasing the emerging role of mobile devices in the agriculture industry. Float Mobile Learning of Morton found that mobile technologies are becoming more common for both educating and learning among agricultural professionals and consumers.
Mobile agriculture, or mAgriculture, has already taken off in other parts of the world, and American farms are following suit. New smartphone apps and other mobile technologies are helping farmers increase efficiency and provide their customers with more information about their farming practices and the food they produce, transforming agriculture into another information-driven business.
In addition, mAgriculture promises greater profits and sustainability for farmers. According to the report, more than 94 percent of farmers now own a mobile phone or smartphone, and these new precision technologies could increase incomes by $138 billion and cut water usage in half. Smartphones and tablets also offer a good way to stay connected and get up-to-the-minute information, especially while traveling or working in the fields.
More than 100 smart-agriculture applications are now available to industry professionals and consumers. Apps like Farmer’s Partner can create a complete overview of the user’s farming operations, while GoodGuide informs consumers on how to make purchasing decisions that support fair trade and sound environmental practices.
To learn more about mobile agriculture’s impact, visit floatlearning.com/magriculture.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
The birth of a newborn is usually a time of great joy, but sadly, each year thousands of babies are born stillborn or die shortly after birth. During this extremely painful time, a nonprofit organization can offer a small amount of solace through remembrance photography for families suffering the loss of an infant.
The coordinator of the local chapter of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Jenni Denton, and her team of two volunteers devote their free time to this cause, paying for expenses out of their own pockets. “I think it’s important for them to have images of their child, so that a hundred years from now, people will know that child was here,” Denton says. “It’s an important part of the healing process.”
Since its 2005 founding, NILMDTS has recruited more than 11,000 volunteers in all 50 states and 40 countries worldwide. However, Denton says, there is a great need for more volunteers in central Illinois. Ideally, she would like to have 10 team members to provide services at all of the area hospitals. She hopes to raise awareness so more people can use the organization’s services if they are ever in need.
And the work is rewarding for Denton as well, who feels that she makes a connection with every client. “It’s a lifelong bond,” she says. “It’s amazing. They say how it’s so helpful because those are the only good images they have to look back and remember their child… It occurred to me that that’s the reason God wanted me to be a photographer: to provide something for these families that is like nothing else.”
On October 7th and 14th, Denton will hold family portrait sessions in her studio, Blissful Images, with a portion of each session donated to NILMDTS. To contact her, visit blissfulimages.com or call (309) 369-0099. To learn more, visit nowilaymedowntosleep.org. iBi