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.

Bill would protect those who lost their dealerships

DANVILLE – Legislation aimed at helping Illinois automobile dealers that lost a franchise because of manufacturer reorganization moves to the state Senate next week.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, shot through the House with extraordinary speed in the first week of the fall veto session. It was heard in a committee on Oct. 14 and passed the full House, 115-0, the next day.

Engineering firm, bank now call downtown home

CHAMPAIGN – Downtown Champaign is welcoming two new companies to its business district.

On Monday, the engineering firm Clark Dietz will move into the ground floor of the Church Street Square building at Church and Randolph Streets. And earlier this week, First Bank opened a branch in the former Great Impasta restaurant at 114 W. Church St.

Two companies share promising plans for future

URBANA – It's been a difficult year for many businesses, but two local companies said Thursday they won't let that stand in their way.

The chief executive officer of Champaign-based EpiWorks outlined his company's plan to expand into solar technologies, and the founder of iCyt Mission Technology introduced a new piece of cell-sorting equipment the company plans to distribute internationally.

Carle Foundation Hospital offers to buy Carle Clinic

URBANA – Carle Foundation Hospital has offered to purchase Carle Clinic and its subsidiary, Health Alliance Medical Plans, for $250 million, according to documents filed with the state this week.

Danville bookstore closing Nov. 20

DANVILLE – A prominent downtown corner building will be vacant starting in December after the closure of the bookstore that is its tenant.

Dragon's Horde, the only store in the city specializing in used paperback books, new and used comic books and gaming supplies, plans to close Nov. 20.

First Busey Corp. shareholder meeting set for Dec. 2

CHAMPAIGN – First Busey Corp. raised $82.8 million in its public offering of common stock last month, the company reported in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Urbana-based bank holding company sold 20.7 million shares for $4 a share to raise that total, the report said.

New convention bureau director selected

CHAMPAIGN – Jayne DeLuce thinks her new job as executive director of the Champaign County Convention & Visitors Bureau should fit her well.

DeLuce, who is scheduled to start Nov. 16, said she has a "passion" for the community, a marketing background and a career tied to tourism.