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Jobless rates fall in most areas

April unemployment rates in Champaign and Vermilion counties were the lowest they've been in at least three years, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Champaign County's unemployment rate dipped to 7 percent in April, down from 7.5 percent in March. The last time the April rate was that low was 2009, when it was 6.7 percent.


DACC trustees to consider adding mechatronics program

DANVILLE — Danville Area Community College soon could offer a new program that would prepare area residents to step into some high-skill, high-paying jobs.

Trustees on Tuesday will discuss and then vote on whether to approve a 24-credit-hour certificate program in mechatronics.


Minimum-wage increase bill draws opposition

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois' minimum wage, now the third-highest in the country, would gradually increase to $10.55 an hour and again become the highest in the United States under legislation approved by a Senate committee Wednesday.


Results of survey of attendees at Scharlau seminar

CHAMPAIGN — Attendees of Busey Bank Vice Chairman Ed Scharlau's economic seminar appear optimistic about the economy this year.

In a survey taken at Tuesday morning's seminar, the collective opinion of attendees was that:

— The Dow Jones Industrial Average will be 13,076 at year's end, up from 12,217 at the end of 2011.


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.


Cities, unions differ over pension moves

DANVILLE — For the first time in more than a decade, Danville's annual police and fire pension costs have decreased, while Champaign's and Urbana's are expected to increase again.


Extended jobless benefits ending in Illinois

CHAMPAIGN — Carl Agoston said he was shocked to learn his unemployment benefits will end this month, as a result of the state's unemployment rate going down.

Agoston, laid off in October 2010 as a mental health counselor at the Champaign County Correctional Center, said he was notified Wednesday his extended benefits were coming to an end.


Downtown Champaign hotel would be Hyatt Place

CHAMPAIGN — The developer of a proposed downtown Champaign hotel said he has applied to have it branded as a Hyatt Place.

Hans Grotelueschen called Hyatt Place "an upscale, select-service brand" well-suited for the project proposed for the southwest corner of Neil and Church streets.


Business update

A roundup of business news:

Navistar affiliates with UI program

URBANA — Navistar Inc. has become the newest corporate affiliate of the Hoeft Technology & Management Program at the University of Illinois.


Job fair held for veterans

URBANA — A Marine who fought a tour in a country that's riddle with gunfire now spends a lot of time behind bulletproof glass at a convenience store.