In celebration of Valentine's Day we caught up with Pease's and toured Peases at Bunn Gourmet to see how they prepare for one of the sweetest days of the year.


Shark TankA group of three budding entrepreneurs from Springfield High School won Sangamon County’s version of the hit ABC reality show “Shark Tank” with a business to connect nonprofits with potential donors. Abby Tellez, Joseph Abe-Bell and Julia Gorden created Tomatoes and Blankets, what they described in The State Journal-Register as a cross between Kickstarter and for local nonprofits.

The idea for Tomatoes and Blankets came from concerns about food waste. The teens initially wanted to connect restaurants with local nonprofits in need of food donations. From there, the idea grew to creating a way for nonprofits and charities to communicate what donations they needed.

The creators of Tomatoes and Blankets participate in Sangamon CEO, a program that teaches high school seniors about business and entrepreneurship. Students learn about the challenges of creating a business, meet with local business owners and are paired with a mentor from the business community.

LighbulbAs part of Sangamon CEO, the program participants proposed different ideas for businesses. The top six proposals were selected to compete in an event like “Shark Tank,” where they pitched their business ideas to five business owners and answered questions about their proposal. Although no cash prizes were awarded, Tomatoes and Blankets was deemed “worth funding” following their presentation.

Sangamon CEO is facilitated by Nabih Elhajj and Richard Johnson. Elhajj is a local entrepreneur who operated The Market on Koke Mill and cofounded Shoutbuddy, a podcast that highlights entrepreneurs, while Johnson was a dean at several universities and previously worked for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Knapheide Manufacturing Co., a western Illinois-based truck bed and body company, announced recently that it will begin constructing an additional facility in Quincy.

Knapheide already has a 480,000-square-foot facility in Quincy with about 1,200 workers, making the company one of the city’s largest employers. The new facility will occupy 188,000 square feet just south of Quincy and create 250 new jobs in manufacturing, installation and support roles.

Knapheide has been manufacturing transportation technologies since 1848, when Herman Heinrich Knapheide arrived in Quincy from Germany and founded the Knapheide Wagon Company. This company primarily sold wagons to farmers, miners and pioneers traveling west.

As the automobile industry came of age in the United States, Knapheide began to build wagon bodies for trucks, specifically those used on farms. The company has since diversified its production,manufacturing truck beds and bodies used by mechanics, miners, ranchers, tradespeople, construction workers and more.

The company has been based out of western Illinois since its founding. Knapheide Manufacturing Company is currently under its sixth generation of family ownership. The company’s continued and consistent investment in Illinois speaks volumes about the state’s industrious workforce and manufacturing potential.

Located in Carroll County alongside the Mississippi River, Mississippi Palisades State Park is an excellent location for outdoor activities during any month of the year, even the winter months.

It is a little known fact that February is an especially good time of year for bird watching in Illinois. Mississippi Palisades State Park is home to about 200 different species of birds. Species include golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and purple finches. In recent years, the Bald Eagle population of Carroll County has climbed, making Mississippi Palisades State Park an ideal place to spot the majestic birds during January and February. The park is also a destination for other popular winter activities such as cross country skiing, sledding and ice fishing.

During the warmer months, Mississippi Palisades State Park attracts visitors with fifteen miles of hiking trails that follow the same paths that have been used for centuries to traverse the steep cliffs that line the river. The park is also known for its first-rate picnic and camping facilities, open May through October, which were constructed with great care by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s.

Due to natural erosion along the Mississippi River, there are many interesting geological features to explore along the palisades. These formations are visible from the river, where boating and canoeing are popular. Some rock formations along the palisades have been designated as national landmarks by the U.S. Interior Department.

During the fall and spring, Mississippi Palisades State Park is a destination for hunters. The wild turkey archery season in spring and the three-day firearm deer season in November attract hunters to this striking plot of land along the river.

For birding, hunting, fishing, hiking, boating and much more, the natural beauty and diverse, local wildlife of Mississippi Palisades State Park never disappoint.


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The Illinois FILM Office released numbers that show Illinois’s film industry continues to grow, with estimated spending in 2016 reaching $499 million. Working with 345 different projects supporting over 13,000 jobs, spending by the film industry was up 51 percent from last year.

Illinois has become a center of film and television thanks to various factors from the tax incentives available to the wide-ranging talent. That talent has grown so much that Chicago has been named one of the top 10 cities for the third consecutive year to live as a filmmaker.

NBC currently has three shows in its lineup with more coming this spring that are filmed on location in Chicago; “Chicago Med”, “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Fire”. “Chicago Justice”, which dramatizes the people of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, airs in March.

Fox’s Emmy-nominated “Empire” is set in New York but filmed in Chicago.

The film industry in Illinois is not just confined to traditional cable networks either. Netflix and Amazon film shows in Chicago with Netflix filming “Easy” and “Sense8” and Amazon filming “Patriot”.

A large part of the growth can be attributed to Illinois’s 30 percent tax credit on all film expenditures. The tax credit is only one in the nation that sets a diversity standard in an attempt to generate opportunity in economically disadvantaged areas.

For more information about the Illinois Film Tax Credit and all Illinois has to offer to the film industry, you can visit the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s film office.