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Scharlau sees 'slightly better' economy

CHAMPAIGN — Payrolls of major employers are rebounding. Retail sales are growing. The local housing market is stabilizing. And farmers are anticipating another year of strong commodity prices.

Those factors, plus anecdotal evidence, make Busey Bank Vice Chairman Ed Scharlau think the local economy is getting stronger.


County board approves local foods council

URBANA — County board members approved the establishment of a Champaign County Local Foods Policy Council to encourage the establishment of small businesses including those producing fresh fruits and vegetables, and to urge large institutional entities to commit to the use of 10 percent locally produced foods.


Farm Bureau, Chamber urge members to look into vote on Champaign schools bond issue

CHAMPAIGN — As Champaign resident Don Kermath works to put the school district's intent to raise property taxes by issuing working-cash bonds on a ballot, two community groups are also getting involved in the effort.


Business update: First Financial, McGladrey, USDA offices

A roundup of recent business news:

First Financial deal for Freestar finalized

CHAMPAIGN — First Financial Corp. has completed its acquisition of Freestar Bank, and Freestar's 13 offices are now branches of First Financial Bank.


Area banking company to be acquired by Indiana firm

PARIS — The parent company of Citizens National Bank in Paris has agreed to be acquired by a north central Indiana banking company.

Under the agreement announced this week, First Citizens of Paris would become a subsidiary of First Farmers Financial Corp., based in Converse, Ind.


Village Inn Pizza relocating to High Cross Road in Urbana

CHAMPAIGN — Village Inn Pizza plans to move to the former TK Wendl's site in Urbana in early November, its managing partner says.

For 46 years, Village Inn Pizza has been at the southwest corner of Springfield and Mattis avenues in Champaign.

But managing partner John Rinkenberger Jr. said its last day at that location will be Oct. 31.


Common Ground reaches fund goal a month early

URBANA — It's the little co-op that could.

The Common Ground Food Co-Op, which launched over 30 years ago in the basement of a building on campus, moved to a new space in Lincoln Square Village three years ago, only to embark on another expansion that will be funded in part by its growing number of members.


Crop-dusting service expanding to Vermilion County

HENNING — A Vermilion County native's crop-dusting business is taking off this summer with three planes operating from a hangar and private concrete runway just north of Henning.


Rising Farmers Grain co-op set to merge with Premier Cooperative

CHAMPAIGN — Members of the Rising Farmers Grain cooperative have approved a merger with Champaign-based Premier Cooperative.


Scharlau sees 'slow recovery'

CHAMPAIGN -- The economic downturn likely "bottomed out" during the second quarter of 2010, and since then, Champaign County has seen signs of improvement, such as an increase in retail sales and a slight decline in the unemployment rate.