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Company that builds, supplies energy sites moving into bigger digs west of Tuscola

TUSCOLA — The J.L. Allen Co. — which does fabrication work for natural gas and oil pipeline projects across the nation — is getting a big upgrade this summer with construction of a new headquarters west of Tuscola.

The company, located just west of LyondellBasell's Equistar Chemicals complex, has been around since 1954.


Local economic development group hires new CEO

CHAMPAIGN — Mike Kirchhoff has been hired as the chief executive officer of the Champaign County Economic Development Corp., succeeding John Dimit.

Kirchhoff's appointment takes effect Aug. 1, and Dimit will remain on staff through the end of August.


Consolidated Communications completes acquisition of SureWest

MATTOON — Mattoon-based Consolidated Communications has completed its acquisition of SureWest Communications, the company announced Monday.

As a result, Consolidated, which provides voice, data and video services to customers in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas, stands to gain SureWest customers in the Sacramento, Calif., area and the Kansas City areas of both Missouri and Kansas.


Four area startups in line to receive money from state program

CHAMPAIGN — Four startup companies with ties to the Champaign-Urbana area have been approved to receive equity investments from the state's new Invest Illinois Venture Fund.

The fund was set up last year as the venture capital arm of the state's Advantage Illinois program.


Schools: Getting hands dirty can pay off in future

CHAMPAIGN — At a time when students may think they need a bachelor's degree to be eligible for good jobs, local educators are encouraging them to look into an education that would qualify them for well-paying local manufacturing jobs.


Open Prairie strengthens ties with Michigan fund

EFFINGHAM — Effingham-based Open Prairie Ventures is increasing its ties with a venture fund based in southwest Michigan.

Under the new arrangement, Open Prairie Ventures will assume a management/advisory role for the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund.


Volition parent reports loss despite downsizing

CHAMPAIGN — Volition's parent company, THQ Inc., reduced the number of its video-game development studios from 11 to five and eliminated 370 jobs in a restructuring earlier this year, the company said in its annual report this week.

That reduced THQ's workforce, as of March 31, to 1,088 employees, with at least 402 of those employed outside the United States, the report said.


Yahoo adds jobs at UI Research Park

CHAMPAIGN — Yahoo's office in the University of Illinois Research Park is adding 15 new software engineering jobs, park director Laura Frerichs said Wednesday.

The expansion comes just two months after Yahoo announced it would cut 2,000 jobs worldwide, or roughly 14 percent of its staff.


Volition parent THQ seeks reverse stock split to shore up price

CHAMPAIGN — THQ Inc., the parent company of Champaign-based Volition, is considering a reverse stock split to help preserve the company's stock trading price.


Consolidated Communications expects approval of SureWest deal

MATTOON — Consolidated Communications says it expects the California Public Utilities Commission to approve its acquisition of SureWest Communications on Thursday.

Shareholders of both Consolidated and SureWest are set to vote on the acquisition June 12. If approvals are given, Consolidated said it expects the transaction to close in early July.