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Business - Chicago Tribune

Business news from the Chicago Tribune. Get money tips, stock market updates and the latest Chicago business news.

Last Build Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2017 00:14:27 -0600

Copyright: ©2017 Chicago Tribune

'Founder' director aimed for complicated, conflicted view of McDonald's Ray Kroc

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 10:54:00 PST

Ray Kroc spent a lifetime trying to make a living from other people's ideas.

He hawked paper cups, folding kitchen tables called FoldaNooks (he didn't sell a single one), and milkshake machines before he discovered the best idea — of someone else — yet: McDonald's.

"The Founder," which opens nationwide...


Trump's treasury nominee defends foreclosure practices, ties to offshore entities

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 15:35:00 PST

Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin defended his ties to offshore business entities and his management of a controversial California bank during a testy confirmation hearing on Thursday.

Speaking before the Senate Finance committee, Mnuchin said businesses in the Cayman Islands and Anguilla...


New skyline sprouting in South Loop as luxury apartment high-rise breaks ground

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 13:49:00 PST

A bold new skyline is beginning to sprout in Chicago's South Loop.

Developers broke ground Thursday on a 56-story luxury apartment building adjacent to the Essex Inn, one of several high-rises going up along the south end of Grant Park.

Essex on the Park, a 479-unit apartment building at 808 S....


Data breaches hit record in 2016 as DNC, Wendy's hacked

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 06:59:00 PST

U.S. companies and government agencies suffered a record 1,093 data breaches last year, a 40 percent increase from 2015, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.

Headline-grabbing hacks, with victims ranging from Wendy's to the Democratic National Committee, are increasing despite regulatory...


McDonald's rolls out new Big Mac sizes — Mac Jr. and Grand Mac — nationwide

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 09:50:00 PST

McDonald's has rolled out two new sizes of its classic Big Mac sandwich — the Grand Mac and Mac Jr. — nationwide.

The world's largest burger chain tested the new versions of the 50-year-old double-decker sandwich in Columbus, Ohio, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area before launching the sandwiches...


Netflix soars, Esquire goes dark as TV viewers move online

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 06:41:00 PST

The future of television just got a little clearer.

An hour after Comcast said its Esquire cable network will shut down, a sign of flagging interest in traditional pay TV, Netflix reported its biggest quarter ever, beating analysts' estimates on new subscribers and validating its vision of a world...


Robots, personalization, customization: Retail technology to watch

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 05:27:00 PST

In the shoe store of the future, the sales associate asking if you need help might be a wide-eyed, child-sized robot quizzing you on your preferences and displaying suggestions on a touch screen on its chest. If you go to the store, that is — you might have already had your feet scanned and confidently...


U.S. jobless claims hit lowest level in more than 43 years

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 06:51:00 PST

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in more than 43 years, another sign that most American workers enjoy job security.

THE NUMBERS: The Labor Department said Thursday that 234,000 Americans sought jobless aid, a drop of 15,000 from the previous...


Commerce nominee Ross says top priority is renegotiating NAFTA

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 15:55:00 PST

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross singled out changes to the nation's free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada on Wednesday as "the first thing" he would address if confirmed to lead the Commerce Department in President-elect Donald Trump's administration.

Speaking before the Senate Commerce...


In some Chicago neighborhoods, retail needs to follow rooftops

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:17:00 PST

There's a real estate adage that goes "retail follows rooftops," and it means when enough people live in an area, store owners and operators soon swoop in to sell a variety of goods or services.

Unfortunately, that's not the case in some of Chicago's low- and even moderate-income neighborhoods,...


Another insurer steps back from Illinois Obamacare exchange

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 12:45:23 PST

Insurer Health Alliance Medical Plan will stop accepting new Obamacare exchange customers this week, even though open enrollment for the marketplace doesn't close until Jan. 31, the insurer announced Wednesday.

Despite its removal from the exchange, consumers already enrolled in Health Alliance...


Brenda Barnes, former Sara Lee and Pepsi-Cola CEO, dies in Naperville at 63

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 12:22:00 PST

Former Sara Lee CEO Brenda Barnes, a longtime executive perhaps best known for putting her career in the executive ranks on hold to focus on her family, has died. She was 63.

Barnes, who suffered a stroke, died Tuesday at Edward Hospital in Naperville surrounded by her three children and other...


Jewel-Osco sued for alleged age discrimination

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 12:10:00 PST

Collectively, the four men had more than 140 years of experience working for the grocery chain known today as Jewel-Osco. But their age and longevity were used against them, according to an age-discrimination lawsuit filed Monday against the grocer.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court...


Northwestern to co-lead immunotherapy drug trial for rare cancers

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 07:58:00 PST

In recent years, doctors and patients increasingly have turned to a new type of cancer treatment that uses the body's own immune system to battle the disease.

Now, Northwestern Medicine is taking that fight up a notch, co-leading a national trial to test an immunotherapy drug combination on people...


Are you facing mom bias at work?

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 07:37:00 PST

The owner of a Chicago-based consulting and research firm, Arin Reeves has a law degree, a doctorate in sociology and a client list that includes Fortune 500 companies.

But that wasn't what an interviewer decided to focus on when considering her firm for a big project.

"Are you nervous about your...


A Chicago lawyer's journey from mortgages to medical marijuana

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 07:35:10 PST

It turns out a law degree is just as helpful in launching a medical marijuana business as it is dealing with mortgages.

Charlie Bachtell was general counsel at Chicago-based mortgage company Guaranteed Rate when the lawyer in him became captivated by Illinois' medical marijuana law. He left mortgage...


New Illinois laws loosen employment restrictions for ex-offenders

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:03:00 PST

"Fast" Fres Oquendo was a well-known name on the world heavyweight boxing stage when he created a nonprofit boxing academy to help get Chicago kids off the streets.

But his plans to partner with the Chicago Park District to open a boxing gym in the Humboldt Park field house, near his childhood...


Koval Distillery purchases Ravenswood facility for expansion

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:42:00 PST

After searching for years for a larger facility in Chicago, Koval Distillery will be staying put in the southeast Ravenswood neighborhood for the foreseeable future, albeit with a larger footprint and grander ambitions.

Koval, the largest craft distiller in Illinois, has bought the building where...


Citibank ATMs to replace Chase at local Walgreens

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:56:22 PST

Citibank ATMs will replace Chase cash dispensers at Walgreens stores in the Chicago area.

Last year, Chase, which holds 22 percent of the deposits in the Chicago area, said it would sell most of its off-site ATMs, including 442 cash dispensers in local Walgreens stores, to ATM operator Cardtronics.


Airlines having fewer delays, lost bags

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:49:00 PST

Airline passengers may have some reasons to gripe, but their bags are enjoying better treatment than ever.

The mishandled baggage rate for U.S. carriers fell to an all-time low of 2.02 reports per 1,000 passengers in November, according to the Department of Transportation, which has been keeping...


Trump talks on Air Force One cost make progress, Boeing CEO says

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 11:10:00 PST

Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said he "made some great progress" in face-to-face talks with Donald Trump on the president-elect's demand to hold down costs on the next-generation version of Air Force One.

In addition to Boeing's contract to build the new Air Force One, the main...


Ken Griffin's flagship fund posts worst results in 8 years

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 10:42:00 PST

If you're looking for someone to feel sorry for, consider the state's richest man, Ken Griffin.

The flagship fund at the gazillionaire's hedge fund firm, Citadel, recorded its worst results in eight years in 2016, according to trade rag Institutional Investor's Alpha.

Citadel's Wellington fund...


GM to add or keep 7,000 jobs, make $1B factory investment

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 08:34:00 PST

General Motors plans to invest $1 billion in U.S. factories and add thousands of new white-collar jobs, measures that have been in the works for years but announced Tuesday after criticism from President-elect Donald Trump.

In all, the Detroit automaker said it will create or keep 7,000 jobs in...


Google exec with Chicago ties, Margo Georgiadis, named Mattel CEO

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 07:32:00 PST

Margo Georgiadis ⇒, a Google executive with strong ties to Chicago, will take over as CEO of toymaker Mattel on Feb. 8, the company announced Tuesday.

Her digital experience could help the company dive further into interactive toys, an industry watcher said.

Georgiadis had been serving as Google's...


Student debt now affects a staggering number of elderly Americans

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:05:00 PST

The number of older Americans taking on student debt on behalf of their children and grandchildren has quadrupled in the past decade, with consumers 60 and older now holding $66.7 billion in student loan debt, according to a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The skyrocketing...


Retailers talk hiring, blending in-store and online sales at trade show

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:53:00 PST

When the National Retail Federation's annual industry trade show kicked off Sunday, jobs was the first topic on the table.

Not job cuts, despite recent reports of major retailers closing dozens of stores. Instead, the focus was on how to find and keep workers, providing them with the right skills...


FarmedHere, indoor farm in Bedford Park, turning off the lights for good

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 07:44:47 PST

FarmedHere, a commercial-scale hydroponic farm in Bedford Park, had lofty goals of expanding to cities across the U.S. and beyond. The company was "on the precipice of international expansion," then-CEO Matt Matros said in July 2015.

Early last year, Matros announced a $23 million, 60,000-square-foot...


Heritage Auctions brings its paddles to Chicago

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 10:48:34 PST

Grab your numbered paddles and dust off your relics: A major auction house is bidding to make Chicago an international auction center.

Heritage Auctions, one of the world's largest auction houses, is scheduled to open a River North showroom this week that will do everything from appraisals to live...


No unauthorized immigrants? Manufacturing, hospitality workforces would struggle

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:34:00 PST

Abigail Alvarado has spent most of her 5½ years in the U.S. on assembly lines preparing the frozen pizzas and packaged sandwiches shoppers find in their grocery stores.

Until recently, the 26-year-old hadn't feared being sent back to her native Veracruz, Mexico.

But the incoming Trump administration...


How parents can survive the $233,610 cost of raising a child

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 15:45:00 PST

A baby is a bundle of joy, but get ready if you are starting a family: Raising that little person also will cost you a bundle.

If you have a baby, expect to spend $233,610 over the next 18 years as you pay for everything from diapers to the extra room in your house or apartment, according to a...


Trump Tower in Chicago, and what it could mean for the Donald's presidency

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 15:23:00 PST

With Donald Trump taking office Friday, your humble critic deconstructs the president-elect's tallest skyscraper, the 98-story Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, and muses on what it means for his upcoming presidency. Building Trump Tower: A timelapse THE SPIRE: Don't try to tell him what...(image)

How should Trump help Chicago companies? Execs share ideas

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 09:38:00 PST

Defund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Appoint more outsiders to the administration.

Expand funding for electric grid modernization.

Those were among the suggestions offered by Chicago-area business people when the Chicago Tribune asked them to offer one idea for President-elect Donald...


Is Trump steering automakers?

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 08:09:00 PST

DETROIT -- The auto industry's biggest players have gathered at the North American International Auto Show, as they do every January, to showcase their latest electric vehicles, SUVs and pickup trucks. This year, however, the cars varnish over a deepening unease about the industry's standing with...


Like it or not, mega-mergers must deal with Trump

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 07:14:16 PST

Wall Street, which has been pretty upbeat about Donald Trump's presidential election, is starting to realize that his administration could also be a downer, especially when it comes to approving corporate mega-mergers.

At stake are mammoth transactions including the $85 billion marriage of AT&T...


Cubs strike long-term sponsorship deal with Beam Suntory

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 11:50:00 PST

Move over Jack, Jim Beam is taking your spot at Wrigley Field.

The Chicago Cubs and spirits giant Beam Suntory announced a long-term sponsorship deal Thursday, making Beam the official spirits partner of the Cubs and Wrigley Field. The partnership is in the ballpark of seven figures annually and...


Bow Truss closes Chicago locations as coffee chain fails to pay many employees

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 11:50:00 PST

All local locations of Bow Truss, the Chicago-based upscale coffee roaster and cafe chain, were closed Thursday as the business scrambled to pay employees and rent.

Founder Phil Tadros confirmed nine Chicago locations closed this week, and said he’s working to find funding and potential partners...


Victor Lownes, helped create Playboy Clubs, dies at 88

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 07:54:00 PST

Hugh Hefner may have launched Playboy magazine, but Victor Lownes came up with one of the keys to its success.

Lownes, who joined Playboy in 1955 as marketing director when the Chicago-based publication was struggling to make a success out of its racy photographs of beautiful women, helped groom...


As department stores exit, mall makeovers begin

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 06:44:00 PST

As big-name retailers prepare to close hundreds of stores this year, many traditional shopping malls and the communities where they reside face a disturbing dilemma: What to do with all that empty space?

For healthier malls, it may come down to cutting deals with new types of retail tenants. But...


Crisis communication firms are early beneficiaries of Trump presidency

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 04:28:00 PST

The manual on how to manage a company's reputation is being rewritten, one tweet from the president-elect at a time.

When Donald Trump fires off a tweet, the world watches and the stock market moves. The phenomenon has started the phones ringing at some crisis communication firms, as companies...


Head of U. of C. Medicine's long-sought trauma center: Violence is 'disease'

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 03:17:00 PST

Headlines surrounding the gun violence on Chicago's South Side would be a deterrent for most people intrigued about a job opportunity in the neighborhood.

But for Dr. Selwyn Rogers, the South Side's troubles were part of his attraction to working there as the first head of University of Chicago...


Hyatt marketing chief says Airbnb threat is overblown

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:48:00 PST

Maryam Banikaram calls herself a "walking idea." That's why companies across several industries have hired her as a marketing "fixer" — the person who helps re-envision and rehab big brands.

The Iranian-born global chief marketing officer of Hyatt Hotels Corp. wanted to be a foreign correspondent...


Kraft Heinz CEO shopping for a home in Chicago

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 13:38:00 PST

Kraft Heinz CEO Bernardo Hees is planning to leave his posh 8,000-square-foot, 7.5-acre estate in the hills of Pittsburgh in hopes of finding a new home in Chicago.

But a company spokesman said the executive's move doesn't mean the maker of Kraft Mac & Cheese and Heinz Ketchup will be pulling up...


VW pleads guilty, agrees to pay $4.3 billion to settle U.S. case; 5 more charged

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 11:10:00 PST

Volkswagen took a major step toward resolving one of the darkest chapters in its history Wednesday, pleading guilty to an emissions-cheating scandal and agreeing to pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil charges as the U.S. announced charges against five new individuals.

As part of its settlement,...


United bumping up retirement date for 747 fleet

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 11:04:00 PST

United Airlines is bumping up the retirement date of its Boeing 747 aircraft.

The iconic jumbo jet will make its final United flight in the last three months of the year, airline President Scott Kirby wrote in a letter to employees Wednesday.

That's about a year earlier than what United announced...


Walgreens, FedEx to offer package pickup and drop-off at pharmacies

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 08:48:00 PST

By the end of next year, most Walgreens customers will be able to pick up prescriptions and packages in a single stop.

To accommodate a growing number of e-commerce packages — particularly for customers who can't easily have orders shipped to their homes — Deerfield-based Walgreens will let customers...


RedEye reboots as weekly entertainment publication

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:29:28 PST

RedEye, the Chicago Tribune's 15-year-old free daily commuter newspaper, is shifting to a weekly format with a focus on food and entertainment.

Beginning in February, RedEye will be published on Thursdays only, putting its "Eat. Drink. Do." feature at the center of what it bills as a weekend planning...


Matt's Cookies plays up simple ingredients in a bid to grow again

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:09:00 PST

It's hard to miss the ingredients listed on the new packaging for Matt's Cookies. Relatively few and easily pronounced, they are emblazoned in large letters on the back of the package.

The message Matt's Cookies hopes to convey: Our cookies are made with real stuff.

Emphasizing that point in the...


Cook County leaders urge Obamacare sign-ups as Republicans plan teardown

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 14:35:00 PST

Local leaders pleaded with Chicagoans on Tuesday to sign up for health insurance through Obamacare — and to speak out in support of the health care law — as Republican leaders in Congress continued their promises to tear it down.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Democratic U.S. Rep....


Judge gives jet car owner green light to sue Museum of Science and Industry

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 05:55:00 PST

It's full speed ahead for a lawsuit filed against the Museum of Science and Industry for allegedly damaging a record-setting jet car on display for 50 years.

A Chicago federal judge last week ruled that Craig Breedlove can move forward with his claim the museum caused more than $395,000 in damage...


Obama's economic legacy: Big bailouts that worked

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 05:29:00 PST

The end of Barack Obama's presidency is near, exemplified Tuesday by his farewell address at McCormick Place, but the historical assessment of his legacy is just beginning.

Overall, I think history will determine that during his eight years in office, President Obama did a pretty solid job of overseeing...


Trunk Club founder, CEO leaving apparel e-tailer

Mon, 9 Jan 2017 15:01:00 PST

Brian Spaly, who founded Chicago e-tailer Trunk Club and stayed as its CEO after selling to Nordstrom less than three years ago, is leaving the company, Nordstrom said Monday.

His exit follows Nordstrom's announcement two months ago that it would take a $197 million impairment charge on Trunk Club,...


Chicago investment firm wins big bankrolling other people's lawsuits

Mon, 9 Jan 2017 13:18:00 PST

When Chicago investment firm Gerchen Keller Capital launched in 2013, it carved out an unusual and controversial niche — bankrolling multimillion-dollar commercial lawsuits in return for a share of any judgment or settlement.

It was a gamble that paid off big for Gerchen Keller, now a major player...


UnitedHealth Group to buy Deerfield's Surgical Care Affiliates for $2.3 billion

Mon, 9 Jan 2017 11:42:14 PST

UnitedHealth Group has agreed to buy Deerfield-based Surgical Care Affiliates in a deal valued at $2.3 billion.

UnitedHealth Group's OptumCare business, which specializes in primary and urgent care, plans to combine with Surgical Care Affiliates, an operator of 205 outpatient surgical facilities...


Illinois companies warn of more than 600 layoffs

Mon, 9 Jan 2017 11:35:00 PST

The closure of Trunk Club's distribution center on Goose Island and the shuttering of a River North gym contribute to more than 600 layoffs expected in Illinois in the coming months, according to notices filed with the state in December.

Trunk Club, a Chicago-based tech company that ships customers...


Sephora to close store at The Shops at North Bridge on Michigan Avenue

Mon, 9 Jan 2017 11:09:00 PST

Three stores on a single half-mile stretch of the Magnificent Mile was too much even for cosmetics giant Sephora.

Sephora is closing its store at The Shops at North Bridge at 520 N. Michigan Ave. on Jan. 15 and directing customers to its new flagship, which opened in August at 605 N. Michigan.


Should Illinois hospitals have to pay property taxes? Court will weigh question

Sun, 8 Jan 2017 10:13:00 PST

They say the only certainties in life are death and taxes — but not for many Illinois hospitals that don't have to pay property taxes to their local communities.

A case set to go before the state Supreme Court on Thursday is challenging the law that allows Illinois' not-for-profit hospitals to...


Illinois EDGE jobs program could see new life

Fri, 6 Jan 2017 15:52:00 PST

Illinois' premier jobs program could see new life under an amendment filed Friday by an Illinois House Democrat.

The amendment seeks to extend the EDGE program, short for Economic Development for a Growing Economy, through the end of April. The program, which provides tax breaks for companies that...


Turning 65 this year? Don't overlook these 3 steps

Fri, 6 Jan 2017 15:10:00 PST

If you will be turning 65 this year and plan to keep working, you have essential money decisions to make that can't be ignored.

The arrival of your 65th birthday requires that you take specific steps so you don't get in trouble with the government on Medicare rules and face fines later. And the...


Chicago food trucks could get longer serving hours, rules compromise after court loss

Fri, 6 Jan 2017 14:47:00 PST

The new year could bring food trucks in Chicago a little breathing room.

In early December, the future of the mobile food industry in Chicago appeared bleak. A food truck owner lost a four-year court battle to overturn parts of regulations voted in by the City Council that set strict rules on where...


Food stamp program faces uncertain future as power shifts in Washington

Fri, 6 Jan 2017 08:50:00 PST

After the storms of April 2013 flooded Illinois rivers, destroying homes and businesses throughout the Chicago area, more than $21 million in temporary food stamp benefits flowed into the state.

Those short-term food stamp benefits helped feed more than 50,000 people in Illinois for 30 days, according...


Yolk's owner considers smaller-scale, 'express' versions of breakfast chain

Fri, 6 Jan 2017 07:17:00 PST

Yolk founder Taki Kastanis tried to do something different with his life than the generations before him. But the family business — restaurants — kept luring him back.

After a childhood spent under counters at his grandmother's restaurant in Lakeview, in adulthood he felt the pull to start one...


From private jets and fast food to deregulation, Trump will usher in new era

Fri, 6 Jan 2017 05:03:00 PST

Every U.S. presidential administration is a pacesetter, and the same will be true for the incoming Trump administration.

Here are business-related trends, large and small, that could end up being considered either "in" or "out" during Donald Trump's regime, which begins with his Jan. 20 presidential...


Chicago's tourist tally hits record 54.1 million visitors in 2016

Thu, 5 Jan 2017 14:57:00 PST

A record 54.1 million people visited Chicago last year, bolstered by increased numbers of vacationers and business travelers, the city said Thursday.

The 2.9 percent increase over 2015 came despite Chicago's place in national headlines and social media — including tweets by President-elect Donald...


Ford to build new hybrid police cars at Southeast Side plant

Thu, 5 Jan 2017 14:08:00 PST

Ford's plans to roll out two hybrid police vehicles will bring new production — and perhaps renovation — to its venerable assembly plant on Chicago's Southeast Side.

The automaker announced this week that one of two "pursuit-rated" police hybrids will be built at the Torrence Avenue plant, Ford's...


Sears sells Craftsman brand to Stanley in deal that could top $1 billion

Thu, 5 Jan 2017 13:50:45 PST

Sears Holdings will sell its well-known Craftsman tools brand to Stanley Black & Decker, the latest in a recent flurry of moves the retailer is making to generate cash after at least five money-losing years.

The agreement announced Thursday calls for Stanley to pay $525 million when the deal closes...


Chicago bars have mocktails at the ready as Dry January catches on

Thu, 5 Jan 2017 11:04:00 PST

A month without drinking can feel long and arduous to some, especially when that month is January in Chicago.

The days are short, the cold is unrelenting and a cocktail or two might seem like a good cure for the winter blues. Yet five years after Dry January launched in England, it's catching on...


Uber slow to fix wheelchair-accessibility woes

Thu, 5 Jan 2017 05:50:00 PST

Every company, young or old, faces a defining moment that shows what type of corporate citizen it's going to be. In Chicago, ride-sharing giant Uber Technologies is fast approaching such a flashpoint as it determines how to serve an important customer constituency, people who require wheelchair...


To buy or rent? In the Chicago area, both press the limits of affordability

Wed, 4 Jan 2017 22:05:00 PST

Families trying to decide whether they would be better off buying or renting a three-bedroom home in the Chicago area face a tough decision: Both renting and buying require more for monthly payments than what the average wage-earner in the region can afford, according to a study released Thursday...


Chicago's Honey Butter Fried Chicken signs on to 'sanctuary restaurant' movement

Wed, 4 Jan 2017 14:59:02 PST

Chicago's Honey Butter Fried Chicken is among a couple of dozen restaurants across the country to sign onto a new "sanctuary restaurant" movement meant to offer safe workplaces for immigrants, Muslims and other communities they feel are under threat in the current political climate.

The movement...


Macy's in Bloomingdale among 68 set to close by spring

Wed, 4 Jan 2017 14:54:00 PST

A Macy's store in west suburban Bloomingdale is one of 68 the retailer will close by this spring.

In August, Macy's announced plans to close about 100 stores, a cost-cutting move made as customers' shopping habits change and sales shift online, but the retailer didn't specify which stores would...


Abbott finalizes acquisition of St. Jude, boosting cardiovascular business

Wed, 4 Jan 2017 14:27:00 PST

Abbott officially closed its $25 billion acquisition of medical device company St. Jude Medical on Wednesday — cementing a deal that promises to make cardiovascular and chronic pain management key parts of Abbott's business.

The purchase of Minnesota-based St. Jude was approved about a week ago...


Presidential Towers Wal-Mart to close at the end of the month

Wed, 4 Jan 2017 13:26:51 PST

A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market store at the Presidential Towers apartment complex in the West Loop will close at the end of the month, Wal-Mart said Wednesday.

The store, which opened in 2011, was the Bentonville, Ark.-based chain's first Chicago Neighborhood Market — a smaller, grocery-focused...


Sears CEO lends retailer more money, tab exceeds $1 billion

Wed, 4 Jan 2017 12:47:00 PST

Sears Holdings is again tapping the pockets of CEO Edward Lampert.

The Hoffman Estates-based retailer said Wednesday that affiliates of Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, agreed to loan the company up to $500 million, backed by mortgages on Sears' properties, to fund operations while it works...


Midway beats out O'Hare on list of on-time airports

Wed, 4 Jan 2017 10:52:00 PST

Midway Airport beat out O'Hare International Airport when it came to on-time air travel in 2016, according to analysts at OAG, which tracks timeliness in airlines and airports around the world.

Midway, with an on-time performance rate of 81.33 percent in 2016, ranked 19th on OAG's list of the 20...


Goose Island's Clybourn brewpub closing for 5-month renovation

Wed, 4 Jan 2017 06:18:00 PST

With a hulking mahogany bar at its core serving beer made mere feet away, Goose Island's Clybourn Avenue brewpub was revolutionary when it opened in 1988. It was one of just three breweries in the Chicago area.

Though the brewery has reliably produced world-class beer during the 28 years since,...


Restaurant menu prices to stay high in 2017, but discounts will abound

Wed, 4 Jan 2017 05:18:00 PST

Sorry, diners: Although restaurants got pushback for raising menu prices in 2016, they aren't expected to cave in and lower them this year.

But there's a silver lining. Promotions and deals on meals may be more widespread, which means eagle-eyed diners still can grab a bargain if they can find...


Closed Ravenswood Sears store to be redeveloped into apartments, retail space

Tue, 3 Jan 2017 15:03:00 PST

Chicago developer Springbank Capital Advisors has purchased the old Sears store in Ravenswood and plans to turn it into a $30 million apartment and retail complex, said David Trandel, chairman and chief executive of Springbank.

The building at 1900 W. Lawrence Avenue was closed last summer by Hoffman...


Ford cancels Mexico factory and will invest in Michigan in 'vote of confidence' for Trump plans

Tue, 3 Jan 2017 10:09:00 PST

Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it was scrapping plans to build a $1.6-billion factory in Mexico and would invest $700 million to expand a Michigan plant to build electric and autonomous vehicles that will add 700 jobs there in a move Ford’s chief executive said was a “vote of confidence” in the economic...


Former students fight for a stake in ITT Educational Services bankruptcy

Tue, 3 Jan 2017 09:59:00 PST

Creditors, federal regulators, state attorneys general and jilted employees of ITT Educational Services have laid claim to the remaining assets of one of the nation's largest for-profit college operators in bankruptcy court. Absent from the line of those seeking redress, however, are the thousands...


Hot neighborhoods poised to see growth among modest home price forecast

Tue, 3 Jan 2017 07:00:00 PST

Chicago homeowners who have been waiting for real estate values to bounce back to the levels they were at before the housing crash probably will continue to be frustrated in 2017, although a couple of hot neighborhoods are poised to see appreciation.

On average, home prices in the Chicago area...


How will the workplace change under Trump? Here are a few clues, issues

Tue, 3 Jan 2017 04:09:00 PST

The incoming Trump administration could make numerous changes that affect the workplace, and while it's anyone's guess what shape those changes will take, the president-elect's Cabinet picks and campaign rhetoric offer some clues.

Here are six workplace issues to watch in 2017.

E-Verify. A chief...


Here's how banks work to boost your overdraft fees

Sun, 1 Jan 2017 03:00:00 PST

Nearly 40% of the biggest U.S. banks surveyed order transactions in a way that leads to increased overdrafts, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Pew analyzed 44 of the 50 biggest U.S. banks and found that 18 of them process debit transactions — purchases, payments and withdrawals...


Checkbooks headed for extinction? Not so fast

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 13:28:00 PST

Despite the ease of paying with a tap on a smartphone or swipe of a credit card, Americans don't appear ready to ditch their checkbooks just yet.

For the first time since Americans began abandoning checks for other forms of payments in the mid-1990s, the decline in check usage has slowed, according...


In 2016 stocks were hot, but bonds were not

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 13:14:00 PST

2016 was a delightful year for almost anyone with money in the U.S. stock market and cruel to people who thought they'd be safe with bonds.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average came close to 20,000 after breaking record after record for new highs following Donald Trump's election. Although the Dow...


Another lawsuit says some McDonald's value meals are no-value rip-offs

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 11:00:00 PST

Another Chicago-area patron of the Golden Arches is suing a McDonald's franchisee for deceptive trade practices and claiming that some Extra Value Meals actually cost more than buying the items a la carte.

Eleven cents — that's the added cost of buying a McDonald's Sausage Burrito Extra Value Meal...


For local business, it's 'Anxious New Year!'

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 10:25:08 PST

As a new business year begins, some of the area's brand-name companies and major local employers are in a state of conflict.

For the most part, these enterprises expect to earn steady annual revenues and profits while also being increasingly vexed by a series of issues and challenges in 2017.



10 Chicago businesspeople to watch in 2017

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 09:55:00 PST

The CEO of a major health system in Illinois. A soon-to-be former secretary of commerce. An Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce executive on a mission to diversify the city's tech scene. Each will take on new challenges in 2017 that make them among the Chicago businesspeople worth watching. Here...


Chicago penthouses were hot in 2016. What does luxury real estate have in store for 2017?

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 07:42:00 PST

With 2016 drawing to a close, it's a good time to look back on some of the Chicago area's biggest residential real estate transactions of the year — and to take a look at what might be on tap for 2017.

The biggest deals in the city

The Chicago area didn't have as many $10 million-plus sales in...


Chicago to get more hotel rooms in 2017 - perhaps too many

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 15:20:00 PST

Chicago will host more major conventions in 2017, but the local hotel market could still find itself tested with as many as 3,000 additional guest rooms coming online, raising concern about oversupply.

When the books are closed on 2016, the hotel occupancy rate likely will be 74.5 percent, down...


Robert L. Hulseman, Chicago-area creator of famed red Solo Cup, dies at 84

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 11:03:00 PST

Small plastic cups spanning a spectrum of colors covered the kitchen table, and a gaggle of kids gathered around. Robert Hulseman was trying to nail down the colors for his newly invented plastic Solo Cup.

"The (research and development) lab for the family business was our kitchen table," said...


Trump seeks credit for 5,000 Sprint jobs already touted

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 09:56:00 PST

President-elect Donald Trump sought credit for Sprint's commitment to create or bring back 5,000 jobs that the carrier says are part of broader U.S. hiring plans previously announced by Japan-based parent SoftBank Group Corp.

Trump said SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son was among those behind the...


Cricket Wireless president expanding beyond Chicago base

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 06:54:49 PST

Cricket Wireless, a leading prepaid mobile service provider, is starting to make more noise in the Chicago market, moving beyond the city and its traditional credit-challenged customer base.

Acquired by AT&T in 2014, Cricket is adding stores from Central Illinois to Wisconsin, and touting cutting-edge...


College career services offices are no longer last stop for soon-to-be grads

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 05:27:00 PST

Alicia Mendoza was working two part-time jobs when she transferred into Northeastern Illinois University. Swamped with work, school and a daily commute, bolstering her resume with something extra was the last thing on her mind.

She thought getting good grades was enough to land her a job after...


Professor says UIC forced him to teach statistics because he is Asian

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 04:30:00 PST

An international relations professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago has filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging he was discriminated against because he is from Korea.

Seung-Whan Choi's lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, claims that after the Korean-born U.S....


Surge in Chicago rents may be starting to ease

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 04:00:00 PST

After experiencing a painful surge in rents during the last six years, Chicago tenants finally are getting a break.

Rents have dropped in areas of downtown where there has been massive new construction of luxury high-rise apartment buildings, and rents are rising only modestly throughout the metropolitan...


With a cue from Apple, Mag Mile retail expands south

Wed, 28 Dec 2016 14:05:39 PST

The Magnificent Mile's retail corridor is expanding south on Michigan Avenue, and Apple is paving the way with its new store, targeted to open in October.

The $27 million store is being built along the southern border of Pioneer Court at 401 N. Michigan, with its entrance overlooking the riverwalk....


Experts (and a comedian) offer workplace advice for the new year

Wed, 28 Dec 2016 10:00:00 PST

I like to wrap up each year by handing the column reins to some of the fine folks I've interviewed over the past 12 months and letting them share forward-looking advice.

My sincere thanks to all of them and to the many others who helped me navigate workplace issues in 2016.

And I thank all of you...


Looking back at 2016: From Cubs to Trump, it's been a wild year

Wed, 28 Dec 2016 07:19:00 PST

With the tumultuous 2016 coming to a close, it's an apt time to revisit business events, large and small, that were highlighted in this column.

Some stories have come to a close while others are merely ramping up for 2017.

Here's an update:

Trump vs. Boeing. One of this year's biggest, and perhaps...


Online shopping makes it easier for consumers, but returns are still a hassle

Tue, 27 Dec 2016 15:40:00 PST

Holiday shoppers who enjoyed the convenience of fulfilling wish lists with a simple click of the "buy" button are learning this week that the return process for online purchases can still be a hassle.

E-commerce purchases can be made with little effort, but shoppers say the returns are almost never...


Abbott gets green light from regulators on St. Jude acquisition

Tue, 27 Dec 2016 14:43:00 PST

Federal regulators greenlighted Abbott Laboratories' $25 billion purchase of St. Jude Medical on Tuesday after the companies agreed to divest two medical device businesses.

Abbott, based in north suburban Abbott Park, will sell the product lines to Tokyo-based Terumo Corp. to settle Federal Trade...