Monthly Archives: September 2014

Formerly Seedy Chicago Area Now a Trendy, Tech Hub

Anonymous crowd of people walking on city street

An area once notorious for its prostitutes and dilapidated warehouses has now become one of the hottest office markets in the United States.

Chicago’s River North was an industrial and storage hub for more than half of the 20th Century. In the 1960s, though, the area began to lose its importance in the industry, eventually becoming a skid row wasteland in the ’70s.

It was around that time, when the area was full of drug dealing and prostitution, that developer Albert Friedman began to buy buildings there, renting them first to artists and photographers. He was even the one who gave the area its new name — River North — in an attempt to make potential buyers forget the area’s seediness.

“There used to be a time when you didn’t want to walk through River North after dark,” said the business association’s chief executive officer Sharon Romack. “Now River North is the place to be after dark.”

Over time, the North River area transformed into one of the trendiest spots not only for living, dining, and entertainment, but also for tech companies. Today, its mix of refurbished industrial buildings and new construction include apartments, condominiums, nightclubs, cafes, hotels, and office spaces. Yelp Inc. — the San Francisco-based business directory and review site — is only one of the latest tech companies to lease a space in the area.

North River’s drastic metamorphosis is due largely to the nation’s technology boom, as the industry’s job growth is increasing demands for office spaces. Tech startups and expanding firms alike are drawn to the area’s historic buildings, which are not only aesthetically pleasing and close to mass transit stations, but are quite functional, also. Many of the buildings have been refurbished, allowing tech companies to easily maintain the proper temperature and humidity of the facilities — an all-too-crucial requirement for IT system reliability.

Now, the area has the lowest number of vacancies in downtown Chicago. River North office rents leaped 26% over the past two years, and are now the priciest for a high-tech submarket behind only Redwood City in the San Francisco area and Manhattan’s midtown south.

“The River North activity is just off the charts,” said commercial brokerage Savills Studley Inc.’s senior managing director Tiffany Winne, who has represented technology tenants in Chicago.

Around 22% of Chicago’s new office jobs in the past two years were in the technology industry. According to CBRE data, employers added 11,795 positions. Even better, hiring is expected to continue to increase and prop up the real estate market.

“Our employees have reiterated time and time again they love the area and want to stay,” said Brandon Cruz, president of online health insurance finder GoHealth. “We think it’s the best place in the city, and that’s why we’re there.”

South Haven Families Still Awaiting Repairs After Late August Flood

entrance and staircase of the House invaded by mud 1
After an August 21 storm caused the worst flooding South Haven, Illinois has seen since 1991, a number of homes in the area were significantly damaged. But while more than three weeks have passed since the initial flood, area residents say they have not received any state or federal aid to make necessary repairs. As a result, at least two houses are currently uninhabitable and others have incurred serious damage. At least one family is staying in their home despite the problems because they have nowhere to go.The August 21 storm wasn’t the first flood South Haven area had seen over the course of the summer, as heavy rains and floods had also occurred on Mother’s Day. However, it did cause the most problems, resulting in so much water that minivans were submerged and the South Haven Volunteer Fire Department had to rescue people by boat. But despite the damage, local officials say that the costs aren’t high enough to qualify for repair assistance, even when combined with those in nearby Portage. Many town residents are organizing, reaching out to government agencies and working to prevent further flooding, but for the moment, this lack of aid is leaving some people in the lurch.

Several houses have experienced typical flood problems: many crawl spaces are filled with mold and sewage, while appliances, furnishings and carpeting were ruined and now fill two construction-sized trash containers. In the cases where the homes are uninhabitable, residents are typically staying with family members and friends while they try to handle flood-related matters. But there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out for anyone: some people have reported that they did not qualify for flood insurance because their homes were not located in a flood plain, and others have been denied coverage because their plans did not include sewage back-ups. As a result, many have now way to pay for repairs or replacements.

Unfortunately, this gap between insurance coverage and repairs is a problem across the United States, as many homeowners often can’t afford the additional cost of repairs in addition to the general payments associated with owning a house. As a result, a number of people across the country have commented on the hidden costs of housing and the challenges they pose to a high number of Americans.

The South Haven area has formed a committee to address the flooding and work with local government, such as the Twin Peaks Conservancy District.The district has already spent $2 million on building retention ponds on the west side of the town, but says that Porter County will need to focus on diverting the storm water away from Governor Road, the site of some of the worst destruction. A plan commissioned by the county in 2012 reports that it could cost $16 million to fix South Haven’s flood problems.

Residents of South Haven have set up two fundraising accounts to raise money for necessary repairs: www.gofundme.com/dfv1b4 and www.gofundme.com/dlj86c. A Facebook page titled South Haven Families of Flood has also been created for anyone who wishes to make a charitable donation or offer additional help.

House in South Bend Poses Possible Lead Violation

Street of residential houses
A homeowner in South Bend, Indiana has issued numerous complaints to code enforcement officials in her area about a problem house in her neighborhood over the course of a year. But while city representatives report they are unable to intervene unless the structure poses an imminent danger, the woman reports a number of problems that could threaten local residents. The case illustrates a common problem with urban and suburban living in the United States: as areas decline, residents increasingly find their standards and even safety threatened by the choices of those around them.Susan Moore has witnessed code enforcement officials writing tickets and issuing warnings to her neighbor for the past 14 months, only to give the homeowner numerous extensions. In response, Moore decided to bring the case to the city council meeting on Monday, September 8, in the hopes that the South Bend city council would intervene.The property’s problems are numerous: Moore claims that the home’s residents use the house’s bathroom even though the water has been disconnected, that it attracts rodents, and that there is litter and contaminated water in the yard. Once, she even had the state health department test for lead, only to find that the result was a concentration of 2,740 micrograms per deciliter. The legal reporting limit is 60.

Moore has lived next to the problem home for 11 years. Since the problems began, she has resorted to lining her property with moth balls to discourage rodents and animals from the neighboring property from visiting her land. Finally tired of watching her neighbor making quick, insubstantial repairs, she has delivered photographs taken over a course of three months to the South Bend legal department and code enforcement offices.

While unfortunately not common due to a high rate of urban and suburban decline in the United States, property owners across the U.S. are nonetheless shocked by the reported conditions at the South Bend property.

Currently, South Bend code enforcement officials have scheduled a hearing for the problematic homeowner on September 25. Moore has stated that she is hopeful the upcoming city council meeting and hearing will cause the city to do more than issue the homeowner another fine.

Same Sex Couples Find Legal Workaround in Wisconsin

Allegory of Justice
Judges in Dane County, Wisconsin, have created a small legal workaround for same-sex couples. The Badger State, where gay marriage is still banned, has started granting adoptions to same-sex couples who have been married in other states, and has opened juvenile court records, which are typically closed, to let more same-sex couples know that they can adopt.“The tides are changing faster and faster, and the judges are seeing it,” said Kat Riley, who recently adopted her spouse’s biological daughter. Kat’s wife, Teresa Riley, was also able to adopt Kat’s biological son.

Both children, who were conceived with the help of sperm donors, had one legal parent prior to the ruling. Now, the kids have two legal parents, allowing them to have rights involved with insurance coverage, inheritance, child support, and death benefits from both Kat and Teresa. The ability to adopt the children has also provided the Rileys with greater responsibilities and rights.

Dane County Circuit Judge Shelley Gaylord approved the Riley family’s adoptions. According to a transcript of the closed hearing, Gaylord said she was bound to recognize the same-sex marriage as constitutionally valid.

Although Wisconsin has a same-sex marriage ban, the couple was married in Iowa. Gaylord said Kat and Teresa’s marriage had to be considered constitutionally valid because Wisconsin’s state Constitution has a full faith and credit clause, which requires states to honor each other’s laws.

Wisconsin is one out of 31 states that still has a ban on gay marriage, which is not all that surprising, considering how tricky it is for governments to revise and amend such laws. A state constitution can only be revised or amended via a constitutional convention, a commission-referred amendment process, an initiated constitutional amendment, or a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. What’s more, legal English is often tricky and complicated, having much of its terminology derived from Latin.

Given enough time, it’s more than likely that additional states will legalize gay marriages, but until, many same sex couples will have to work around them, as the Riley family and other couples in Wisconsin are.

Chicago Entrepreneurs Optimistic About Hiring, According to Survey

Chicago Skyline
Things are looking up for entrepreneurs in Chicago, according to a recent survey that examined 131 Chicago-based companies.Among entrepreneurs who responded to The Entrepreneur Organization’s semi-annual Global Entrepreneur Indicator survey, 65% expected to add full-time employees in the next six months, and 32% expected their staffing to remain the same. Only 3% of respondents anticipated reducing their staffing level.

That’s not even the end of the good news. Over 97% of entrepreneurs in Chicago expect their revenue to stay the same or increase in the next six months, while 33% said their access to capital increased. The rest answered that it remained the same. None said that it decreased.

Fully 91% of Chicago entrepreneurs reported a belief that the U.S. economy will remain the same or improve in the next six months, and 97% said they’d start a new business in today’s economic environment.

The numbers didn’t surprise Andrea Herrera, president of the Entrepreneur Organization’s Chicago chapter. “I believe [the survey] says that we are very positive and encouraged about Chicago’s potential for economic growth,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “Two or three years ago it was much more static.”

Herrera is an entrepreneur herself. She founded Chicago-based catering company Amazing Edibles, and currently serves as the company’s president.

The Entrepreneur Organization, which conducts the survey every six months, is a global network based in Virginia that includes 120 chapters and over 8,000 business owners around the world.

Adam Robinson, another member of the group, told the Chicago Tribune that “you’ve got an economy that’s recovering, perhaps slower than some people would like. But it’s recovering. People are seeing more demand out there. Consumer-driven businesses are growing.”

Robinson is the CEO of Hireology, a Chicago-based company founded in 2010. His business started this year with 15 employees and will end with around 80. The company creates and distributes software to assist decentralized companies with hiring practices.

Software solutions like Robinson’s stimulate businesses in several ways. They assist in the growth and functionality of companies of all sizes and even create new business niches like software asset management, which tracks software inventory and licenses to help companies stay in legal compliance and negotiate for new software solutions.

“When we’re growing,” Robinson pointed out, “It’s because our customers are hiring.”

Chicago Area Hospitals Plagued by Enterovirus, Restricts Visitors

Entrance to emergency room at hospital
Over the past several weeks, Chicago-area hospitals have seen an influx of children reporting flu-like symptoms in addition to difficulty breathing. The symptoms are similar in nature to the rare respiratory virus known as EV-D68, which has been sweeping across several Midwestern states.It has been confirmed that 12 states, including Illinois, have contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requesting assistance in investigating clusters of this strain of enterovirus.

As health officials await test results that will confirm the exact number of cases that involve EV-D68, hospital emergency rooms continue to see a steady stream of children experiencing symptoms associated with the illness.

In an effort to contain the illness, several suburban hospitals are restricting visitors under the age of 18, or those of any age experiencing flu-like symptoms, according to hospital officials.

Though respiratory symptoms may be caused by a variety of viruses, health officials are carefully monitoring what seems to be a sudden increase in the EV-D68 strain. EV-D86 is one out of more than 100 enteroviruses, a group of infections causing a variety of symptoms that affect an estimated 15 million Americans annually.

Similar to other enteroviruses, the majority of EV-D68 cases cause mild, flu-like symptoms that typically resolve on their own. In some cases, however, patients experience difficulty breathing that requires immediate medical attention and treatment. Though the majority of EV-D68 cases involve children under the age of 18, it is possible for adults to contract the virus as well.

In recent weeks, 82 cases of the virus have been officially confirmed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of confirmed cases spans over six states, and includes 11 cases in Chicago.

According to health officials, the most effective way to prevent the spread of the disease is quite simple: practice good hygiene. This includes thoroughly wiping down surfaces with hot, soapy water, covering coughs and sneezes with one’s elbow, and proper hand washing. As the virus has mainly affected children, officials are encouraging parents and schools to discuss hygiene techniques with their children.

It appears that the spread of the virus shows no signs of slowing down. As such, hospital emergency rooms can possibly pose a threat due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, and may be dangerous until the virus can be contained. Therefore, urgent care centers are a viable option for treatment of non-life-threatening conditions.

Over the course of the last decade, urgent care centers have become one of the fastest growing segments in the American healthcare industry, and continue to bridge the gap between hospital emergency rooms and primary care physician offices. Nearly half (48%) of adult emergency room patients who were not sick enough to be admitted to the hospital sought treatment at an emergency room because their physicians’ offices were closed, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Urgent care centers continue to ease the burden on hospital emergency rooms and physician offices, while providing patients with affordable, convenient, and quality medical care.

Chicago-Area Man Allegedly Crashes Car into 7-Eleven

car crash
A Lombard man who claims he was driving to buy a gallon of milk on Sunday morning has landed in jail after he allegedly crashed his car into a 7-Eleven.The incident occurred at approximately 9 a.m. Sunday. Police arrived at the 7-Eleven, located at Butterfield Road and Lloyd Avenue in unincorporated Lombard, to find a 2004 Acura still running in the midst of the convenience store.

After driving into the store, the male driver then fled on foot.

Junior A. Espinal, 32, has been charged with driving without a license, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to provide his information to the owner of the damaged property, according to the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office.

Using a description of the suspect, police searched the area and found Espinal. Espinal claimed that his car’s brake pedal stuck as he was driving up to the 7-Eleven.

No injuries were reported, police said.

There have also been no estimates on the amount of damage caused to either the car or store, or regarding what repairs will cost.

Photos from the scene show broken glass, some twisted metal, and scattered snacks knocked off racks. The back of the car looks virtually intact, but photos do not show the car’s front in order to estimate damage.

Automatic vehicles provide fewer options than manuals when accelerator and decelerator pedals become stuck. Additionally, drivers often panic when they do not receive an instantaneous response from pressing on their pedals.

Engine and transmission problems are among the most expensive types of auto repairs in the U.S.

Lombard, known as “The Lilac Village,” is a suburb located about 20 miles west of Chicago.

Chicago Named Top Moving Destination for Families by Van Lines

Moving Day Circled Calendar Important Date Reminder
Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the Windy City has been named the most popular metropolitan moving destination for families in the United States.The data comes from the Summer Long-Distance Moving Trends Study, conducted by United Van Lines, America’s largest moving company. The average American moves about 11.7 times, and the peak season for moving is summer, hence the timing of the study.

The number one moving destination in the country this summer turned out to be Chicago.

From May to August, which is generally the busiest part of the moving season, Chicago saw almost 47% more families moving in than it did moving out, though the city is still number six on the list for most outbound moves. Still, considerably more people were moving to the city than moving out, and it was still the most popular moving destination in the country.

Other Midwestern cities have seen similar population booms, like St. Louis and Minneapolis. Many of the new arrivals were millennials.

The survey showed that over 70% of families moving to top destination cities like Chicago, Washington, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix and New York were doing so because of a corporate transfer or a new job.

Since Mayor Emanuel took office, 99 companies have opened offices in Chicago and 27 companies have opened corporate headquarters there. Site Selection magazine named Chicago the top corporate relocation metro in North America earlier this year, and the city gained over 5,800 residents in 2013, making it the third consecutive year of population growth for the Windy City after over 10 years of decline.

“United’s survey shows that our efforts to build the Chicago of tomorrow by investing in a diverse and highly educated workforce and recruitment of new businesses are having an impact,” Mayor Emanuel said in the announcement.

“Chicago’s population is growing, our tech and healthcare sectors are thriving, and we continue to build out our legacy of financial and professional service industries, all the while focusing resources on neighborhoods across the City to ensure that all Chicago residents have access to the benefits that this economic growth provides.”

Study Predicts Global Market for Lead-Acid Batteries to Grow By 2018

Worker on forklift
The Global Industrial Lead Acid Battery Market 2014-2018 study recently revealed that the worldwide market for these batteries, commonly used to power forklifts, will grow at an approximate compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% by 2018.According to a September 6 Whatech.com article, the study, conducted by RnR Market Research, was conducted by looking at a variety of different sectors of the market for these batteries, using “in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts.”

The report cites the growing need for UPS services, which are driven by warehouses and, in turn, forklifts, around the globe. A possible challenge that could inhibit growth is the possibility of market explosion, which will inevitably lead to a significant decline shortly after, Whatech.com reports.

Lead-acid batteries are an attractive option to warehouse operators as a source of power for forklifts because the batteries, which contain lead electrodes in combination with diluted sulfuric acid that performs the role of an electrolyte, effectively generates about two volts per cell. Despite their low energy-to-weight and energy-to-volume ratios, lead-acid batteries supply a huge amount of power to keep forklifts mobile, the Whatech.com article states.

These batteries are also rechargeable — and if each battery is never allowed to run below 20% charge, the batteries can have a lifespan of up to five years, another attractive factor for warehouse operators.

The Global Industrial Lead Acid Battery Market study examined four distinct end-user sectors for lead-acid batteries: Industrial Forklift Trucks, Telecom, UPS, and Others, according to Whatech.com. The study also looked at the variances in usage throughout different global regions.

Chiropractors Behaving Badly: Conmen, Pedophiles, and Pot-Growers are Tweaking Your Spine

woman getting chiropracticA trip to the chiropractor should be a helpful experience. If you’re experiencing chronic pain, a chiropractor can provide relief from that pain, without surgery or medication.

The most common complaint among chiropractic patients is back pain. Experts estimate that at any given time, about 31 million Americans are suffering from lower back pain. 35% of chiropractic patients are seeking relief from back pain resulting from various causes, including accidents, sports injuries, or muscle strains.

Normally a chiropractor can provide relief by aligning the spine and musculoskeletal structure, and restoring mobility to joints restricted by tissue injury. However, chiropractors have been relieving patients of more things than just their pain — like their trust, their money, and their dignity.

Andrew Carr, a former chiropractor, and his wife Wendy Carr, a fitness instructor and personal trainer, both of Lake of the Hills, Ill., have both been sentenced to federal prison for a $1 million dollar health insurance fraud scheme.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Shoba Pillay, “They pretended to be the victim patients’ friends, convinced the victim patients to take their fitness classes, and convinced the victim patients to get treatment from [Andrew Carr] when the classes caused physical pain or injury.”

Over the course of six years, the Carrs were also submitting health insurance claim forms for hundreds of patients, knowing that millions of dollars worth of claims were for services that were not provided. They made over a million dollars off of this scheme.

But that’s only the most recent case of chiropractors up to no good.

West Jordan, UT chiropractor Brandon Babcock was sentenced to six months in jail last year for conning elderly patients out of thousands of dollars. He convinced them that he could cure them of their diabetes with a “breakthrough procedure,” and duped them into signing up for credit, before charging then thousands.

Last April, Franklin, NJ chiropractor Scott Greenberg was sentenced to six years in prison for using runners to recruit motor vehicle accident patients, and commiting insurance fraud on those accounts, and if that wasn’t enough, also growing marijuana plants in his home.

In one of the most disturbing cases, chiropractor David Allen Russell of McKinney, TX, was also charged last year with molesting several female patients, both underage and young women. Russell was sentenced to 23 years in prison for the sexual assault.

Even some chiropractors don’t have a very high opinion of their own, when it comes to treatment. Mark Sanders, D.C. wrote that because chiropractors are not trained in hospitals, they’re exposed to a limited range of pathology, and are not knowledgable enough to detect ailments that may be causing the pain they’re treating.

Sanders cited several examples of chiropractors missing diagnoses of cancer and osteoarthritis, letting the diseases progress, as they provided unnecessary treatment.

Does all this mean that all chiropractors are monsters, who don’t know how to treat their patients? No. But it does mean you should be aware of your treatment, and make sure the chiropractor is familiar with your medical history. Your best choice is to go to a chiropractor that your primary care physician recommends, as they will have had positive experiences with him or her.