Ex-Chanute area earns designation as foreign trade zone

RANTOUL – Rantoul has a new incentive to offer businesses now that part of the former Chanute Air Force Base has been designated a subzone of the Peoria foreign trade zone.

Companies can make use of the subzone to defer, reduce or eliminate customs duties on products coming in from abroad.

Volunteers sought to help people complete tax forms

DANVILLE – AARP is seeking volunteers in the Danville area to help middle- and low-income taxpayers complete their federal and state income tax forms for 2009.

Volunteers will assist with preparing and electronic filing of tax returns. Training is free, and volunteers are asked to serve a minimum of three hours per week from Feb. 1 through April 15.

First Busey loss for 3rd quarter: $283 million

CHAMPAIGN — As forewarned a month ago, First Busey Corp. reported a massive net loss for the third quarter, but indicated the worst may be over.

PowerWorld grows without help of venture capital

CHAMPAIGN – Mark Laufenberg's company has more than 600 customers in at least 57 countries around the world.

But the president of Champaign-based PowerWorld Corp. said his company wouldn't be a good candidate for venture capital.

Title-service owner wins Danville Rotary honor

DANVILLE – People of Vermilion County are used to seeing Pat O'Shaughnessy heading a United Way campaign, chairing the Festival of Trees or, a few years ago, recruiting volunteers for the Balloon Classic, but he really does have an 8-to-5 job.

O'Shaughnessy was honored on Monday as the Danville Rotary Club's 2009 Vocational Service Person of the Year, and was asked to talk about himself and his career.

Credit Union 1 president: Acquisition 'a great opportunity'

RANTOUL – At a time when two area financial institutions have been burned by branching into distant markets, Credit Union 1 is enthusiastically extending its operations far afield.

The Rantoul-based credit union has agreed to acquire the assets of Cumorah Credit Union, which has two offices each in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev.

St. Louis-based firm acquires Ace Court Reporting

CHAMPAIGN – St. Louis-based Midwest Litigation Services has acquired Ace Court Reporting in Champaign.

Ace Court Reporting was founded by Holly Ringstrom and Susan Randolph. The office will remain at 201 W. Springfield Ave., C, and Ringstrom and Randolph will remain with the firm, said Mary Gaal, operations manager at Midwest Litigation Services.

Semiconductor wafer-maker expanding manufacturing

CHAMPAIGN – Nine years after Quesnell Hartmann and Dave Ahmari started a high-tech company in Champaign, it turned out pretty much as they expected.

It just took longer to get there than they imagined.

Along the way, the founders of EpiWorks had to deal with fallout from the "tech bubble," 9/11 and last year's collapse of the financial markets.

"We didn't expect to have so many large things happen in a handful of years," said Ahmari, the company's executive vice president for business development.

"There are so many things that can affect a business that are out of your control," he said. "You have to take into account how much craziness can happen."

Studio Visit: Angela Sekerak, 25, of Urbana

Q: I looked at your Web site ( and wondered whether you consider yourself a Christian artist?

A: Yes, I'm a believer. I went to a Christian college, Pensacola Christian College, for my bachelor's and MFA in fine arts, but I focused on oil painting.

County sees rise in home sales, dip in median price

More homes were sold in Champaign County last month compared with a year ago, but they sold at a lower price.

The median sales price for homes, including condos, sold in Champaign County in September was $135,500, down about 16 percent from September 2008, when the median price was $162,061, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors.