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Business

Neiman Marcus files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

By Anne D'Innocenzio AP Retail Writer NEW YORK (AP) — Neiman Marcus has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the first department store chain and second major retailer to be toppled by the coronavirus pandemic.  The move by the 112-year-old storied luxury department store chain was announced Thursday and follows the bankruptcy filing by J.Crew on Monday. Experts believe there will be more to come even as businesses start to reopen in parts of the country like Texas and Florida.…

City of Rockford receives EPA grant to clean up downtown properties

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The City of Rockford has received a $275,000 grant under the Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfield’s Program to assess and clean up two downtown properties. Under President Trump’s administration, the EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants. Rockford will use its award for the Rockford…

Former Guilford swimming standout now helps build better lawnmowers

Staff Report ROCKFORD - One of Rockford's top swimmers of the 1990s is helping a leading U.S. company make better lawnmowers. Stephanie Homewood Boozer, a 1996 graduate of Guilford High School, is manager of program development for riding lawn equipment at John Deere in Cary, North Carolina. At Guilford, Boozer was one of the top freestylers in conference history. She won seven individual conference titles, the 50 free style in 1994, the 100 freestyle all four years in high school and…

Cafes, bars, gyms, barbershops create social fabric

Setha Low CUNY Graduate Center (THE CONVERSATION) Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic implies many painful losses. Among them are so-called "third places" – the restaurants, bars, gyms, houses of worship, barber shops and other places we frequent that are neither work nor home. The third place is a concept in sociology and urban planning that recognizes the role these semi-public, semi-private places play in fostering social association, community identity and civic engagement.…

BBB: Beware of scams associated with posting senior pictures on Facebook

Staff Report ROCKFORD - It seems harmless and fun-- a bunch of friends on Facebook or other social media are sharing their senior portraits, including the high school name and graduation year, to support the graduating class of 2020 many of whom are at home because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional office of the Better Business Bureau, says scammers and hackers may be surfing social media sites, looking for specific hashtags in order to…

Best Buy to furlough 51K workers amid coronavirus pandemic

By Jim Hagerty Reporter MINNEAPOLIS - Best Buy, beginning, April 19, will temporarily furlough around 51,000 hourly store employees and almost all part-time workers, the electronic retailer announced Wednesday, April 15. Furloughed employees will retain health benefits at no cost for a minimum of three months. The company says it will retain approximately 82% of its full-time store and field employees on its payroll, including the majority of In-Home Advisors and Geek Squad Agents.…

Stocks sink in wake of grim economic news

By Stan Chow, Alex Veiga and Damian J. Troise AP Business Writers NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks swung back down Wednesday after more signs piled up of the economic damage being caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Markets have been stuck cycling between fear and budding optimism in recent weeks as investors try to guess how long and deep the looming recession will be, with the switch often flipping overnight or even within the same day.  Economists have been slashing forecasts in advance of…

Pandemic could put brakes on Illinois real estate market

By Ken Bessler CHICAGO - The coronavirus outbreak could put the brakes on the housing market in Illinois. In February, homes sales were up 5% and the median prices increased 7 percent compared to the previous year. Ed Neaves, president of Illinois Realtors, said its seller's market. “Not only are the houses selling in one, two or three days, but the offers are very high because the inventory is low, people are competing because of the lack of numbers of houses,” he said. Neaves…

Woodward to close Rock Cut plant amid coronavirus uncertainty

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Woodward, Inc. plans to close its Rock Cut plant, the company announced Friday. "Woodward is conducting permanent layoffs and temporary furloughs because we are temporarily closing business lines, departments, and portions of facilities due to the public health emergency and physical calamity resulting from the sudden and widespread impact of the infectious disease pandemic known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)," the company said in a statement.…

Woodward lays off 425 workers from Loves Park plants

By Jim Hagerty Reporter LOVES PARK, Ill. - Woodward, Inc. has laid off 425 workers from both of its manufacturing plants in Loves Park, the company announced Thursday, April 9. The company announced Wednesday that it was planning to lay off a significant amount of people amid the coronavirus pandemic. That announcement came after Woodward reported that a merger with Stamford, Connecticut-based Hexcel Corp. was being put on hold because of the virus outbreak. "Given the uncertainty in the…

Wall Street climbs 3.4%, holds as coronavirus outbreak moves toward peak

By Stan Choe and Alex Veiga AP Business Writers NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shot to a 3.4% gain on Wall Street Wednesday as investors chose to focus on the optimistic side of data about the coronavirus outbreak's trajectory. It's the latest about-face in this brutally volatile stretch for the U.S. stock market, which has flip-flopped from gains to losses for six straight days. Just a day before, stocks had been headed for a similar gain only for it to vanish in the last minutes of trading. The…

Business boom happening in Rockford’s Midtown District

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Business is booming in Rockford's Midtown District.  Seven new businesses have opened their doors in the historic business district since March. Ronn Mooney, Executive Director of the Midtown Business District, attributes the growth to competitive rental pricing and positive momentum of the area. “It’s exciting to see so many new businesses want to be in our area,” Mooney said. “The City of Rockford has really been an important partner. From the area’s alderman to…

Uneasy about economy, businesses back off on hiring

By Joynce M. Rosenberg AP Business Writer NEW YORK (AP) — Samantha Martin does most of the annual hiring for her public relations firm in the first quarter. But not this year — clients worried about a slowing economy are cutting their budgets, and Martin has in turn scaled back her own plans. "Our clients are having trouble getting funding and therefore public relations and marketing are the first to get cut," says Martin, owner of New York-based Media Maison. If Martin's firm has more work…