Business news roundup

Business news roundup

A roundup of business news.

Sprint store in Urbana to close

URBANA — Midwest Communications Group announced Friday that it will close its Sprint retail store at 510 N. Cunningham Ave., U, on March 31.

The closing affects only the Sprint store and has no effect on Midwest Communications Group's other operations in Urbana and Danville, according to a statement from the company.

"Our decision to get out of the cellular industry was the result of changes to Sprint's business model that no longer mesh with ours," said Gary Jacobson, the company's vice president and general manager.

All the store's inventory and fixtures will be for sale throughout the coming week, he added.

Common Ground hits goal

URBANA — Common Ground Food Co-Op reached its final owner-loan goal of $1 million last week.

That will enable the food cooperative to proceed with its $2.5 million expansion at Lincoln Square Village.

The cooperative had raised $700,000 of the amount through a previous owner loan campaign. The remaining $300,000 was raised during a 29-day loan drive lasting from Feb. 15 to March 15.

"The power of people coming together to build something they believe in is an amazing thing to be a part of," said Jacqueline Hannah, the coop's general manager.

Help for apartment hunters

CHAMPAIGN — Champaign-based Cazoodle has launched Place of Mine, an online service that aggregates apartment listings from thousands of websites and helps people find the apartment that's right for them.

The company uses technology developed by Kevin Chang, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Illinois, and his research students.

Using a mechanism called CaPinion, users can compare and rate each apartment in terms of rent, access to public transit, proximity to amenities and proximity to crimes in the area, according to a news release from the company.

The service also allows users to create lists of apartments they're interested in and collaborate on those lists with friends. Users can add comments, photos and notes.

Carrier contract explained

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Airport Authority issued a statement this week, explaining its recruitment of Vision Airlines last week to fill the void left when Direct Air suspended flights.

On March 17, Vision began offering flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays between Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport and Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla.

"Under normal circumstances, we probably would not look to contract and underwrite an airline directly to fly a route such as this," said Mark Hanna, the airport authority's executive director.

"However, the situation at hand is different than any we have faced. The abrupt cancellation of these (Direct Air) flights left thousands of passengers in limbo right in the middle of the busy spring leisure travel season," he said.

"Our goal was to provide a quick and cost-effective solution for those who still had plans in place, but needed to make a decision on travel plans as quickly as possible," he added.

The airport estimated that Direct Air's suspension of flights affected nearly 7,700 passengers from Springfield who planned to travel through Punta Gorda, Fla., or Lakeland, Fla., by the end of April.

The Springfield airport was the first of 17 airports previously served by Direct Air to resume service using a replacement carrier.

Vision Airlines briefly provided Willard Airport in Savoy with service to Punta Gorda this winter, but discontinued it after only a few flights.

Speaker will discuss ethics

CHAMPAIGN — An authority on business ethics will discuss the ramifications of texts and tweets on organizations during a lecture on the University of Illinois campus.

Keith Darcy, executive director of the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association, will speak on "Managing Organizational Integrity in An Age of Texts, Tweets and WikiLeaks."

His speech — the annual Leighton Lecture on Ethics and Leadership — is slated for 4 p.m. April 2 in the Deloitte Auditorium of the Business Instructional Facility, 515 E. Gregory Drive, C.

The lecture is sponsored by the UI's Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society.

Job fair for older workers

URBANA — ExperienceWorks will host its third annual Mature Worker Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Urbana Civic Center, 108 Water St., U.

The free event is designed for people 50 and older who are looking for work. Local employers will be on site to accept job applications, and hands-on assistance with resumes and online job applications will be available.

There will be a "dress to impress" fashion show at 12:30 p.m., and presentations by Manpower, Parkland College, Eastern Illinois University and the Illinois Department of Employment Security earlier that morning.

As of Friday, 29 employers were slated to come to the fair, with jobs available in sales, manufacturing, clerical work, social service, health care and driving.

Interested employers who have not yet signed up for the fair can get more information by calling Stacey Parr, the employment and training coordinator for Experience Works at 923-5793. That office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Last year, about 400 people came to the Mature Worker Job Fair, Parr said. Prospective workers may find it helpful to bring resumes and a list of references, she said.

Entrepreneur workshop set

URBANA — The University of Illinois Technology Entrepreneur Center will offer a one-day workshop for people who want to turn their research and ideas into a company.

The "Invention to Venture" workshop will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 14 at the Coordinated Science Lab, 1308 W. Main St., U.

The workshop is primarily for college and university students, but is also open to anyone who wants to know more about what it takes to commercialize a technology.

Topics include: licensing and patenting intellectual property, validating your idea, setting up your company, funding options, and sales and marketing.

The cost is $15 for students, $40 for faculty members and staff, $60 for alumni and $75 for others. The price covers lunch, a participant guide and a continental breakfast.

The workshop is offered in cooperation with the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.

To register, visit For more information, call the Technology Entrepreneur Center, 265-5456.