Illinois American Water moving office to Urbana

Illinois American Water moving office to Urbana

A roundup of business news:

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois American Water plans to move its administrative office and customer service functions from 201 Devonshire Drive, C, to a building it recently bought at 1406 N. Cardinal Court, U.

The company said it expects the move to take place later this year, once renovations to the building — formerly the home of Nogle & Black Mechanical — have been made.

The new operations and distribution center on Cardinal Court will allow the company's distribution and field service teams to be at the same location, Champaign District Operations Manager Ron Smith said in a release.

"This will increase efficiency, enhance customer service and result in future savings to benefit our customers," he said.

Company spokeswoman Karen Cotton said Illinois American spent $1.3 million for the building. It is expected to house about 45 employees, with staff on Devonshire joining operations staff from the Lincoln Avenue water treatment plant.

The new 30,000-square-foot center will provide more storage, meeting space and better access to equipment, the company said. The distribution center will occupy more than 23,000 square feet of the space.

Tim Harrington, director of commercial services at Coldwell Banker Commercial Devonshire Realty, said half of the 20,000-square-foot building on Devonshire Drive is already available for lease and the rest of the building will be available once the water company moves out.

Local company finalist in clean-energy contest

CHICAGO — EP Purification of Champaign has been named one of 10 early-stage finalists in the Clean Energy Trust competition, which carries a $100,000 grand prize.

The company, which has offices at EnterpriseWorks, has created new technology to generate ozone for water purification, a release from the Clean Energy Trust said.

Ozone reduces the need for hot water and chemicals in commercial laundry, which results in energy and cost savings. EP Purification's microplasma technology is a smaller, more efficient and cost-effective way to generate ozone.

The co-founders of EP Purification are Sung-Jin Park, an adjunct associate professor in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois, and J. Gary Eden, a professor in the same department.

When contacted about EP Purification's selection as a finalist, Park said, "It's an honor to be there." He said more than 80 companies from Midwestern states were in the running, and three of the finalists are from Illinois.

A panel of clean-energy business experts, venture capitalist and scientists will select the winners April 3 in Chicago.

In addition to the $100,000 grand prize for early-stage entrepreneurship, the competition will award a $50,000 aviation-energy prize, a $25,000 building-efficiency prize, a $20,000 female-entrepreneurship prize and a $100,000 student-entrepreneurship prize.

Natural-gas usage up 20 percent this winter

COLLINSVILLE — Ameren Illinois said natural-gas usage is up about 20 percent this winter because of prolonged extremely low temperatures this heating season.

This winter — December, January and February — was the fourth-coldest on record, according to the state climatological office.

Ameren customers are paying natural-gas rates that are about 5 percent less than last winter because the company bought gas when prices were low and stored it. But the higher usage "more than offset" the supply savings, resulting in higher bills.

Informational session set for 10 a.m. Tuesday

CHAMPAIGN — People who are unemployed or have low incomes have an opportunity Tuesday to find out how to get manufacturing-skills training that could help them get a job.

An informational session about the Accelerated Training for Illinois Manufacturing program has been scheduled for 10 a.m. that day at the Illinois Worknet Center, 1307 N. Mattis Ave., C.

Through the training program, people will receive "paid-for" specialized training based on the needs of regional employers.

Larry Peterson, project manager for the initiative in central Illinois, said the training will help people become certified production technicians and could lead to further training in welding, machining and equipment service and repair.

The initial training will likely involve 12 to 15 weeks of sessions at Parkland College, Peterson said. Prior work experience in manufacturing is helpful but not required.

Financial support for the initiative comes from federal Workforce Investment Act money provided through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

For information, contact Peterson, project manager for the Central Illinois Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, 820-0577.

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