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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: Sat, 1 Oct 2016 09:31:28 -0500

Copyright: ©2016 Chicago Tribune

Liberal arts grads struggle with underemployment, study says

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 15:27:00 PDT

Warning to college students and millennials still trying to recover from the Great Recession: About 44.5 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed after settling for jobs that typically don't require a college education.

Students in college now may face a struggle in their early career...


Cubs play-by-play man Pat Hughes imagines historic call

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 05:40:00 PDT

Pat Hughes, radio voice of the Cubs for 21 years, has been thinking about what he might say if the Cubs win the World Series.

His words would reverberate for decades, played and replayed for as long as there is baseball.

No pressure.

"The main thing is you have to capture the moment," said Hughes,...


Richard Trentlage, native Chicagoan who got generations humming Oscar Mayer wiener song, dies

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 10:36:00 PDT

The man who got generations of hot dog lovers humming along to the Oscar Mayer wiener song has died.

An obituary posted online by Davenport Family Funeral Home and Crematory in Crystal Lake says Richard Trentlage, of Fox River Grove in Lake County, died on Sept. 21 at age 87.

With the words, "Oh,...


Wells Fargo aside, some banks need relief to help local communities

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 07:50:00 PDT

Sympathy for the banking business is in short supply these days, especially as another mind-boggling financial scandal unfolds.

This one comes courtesy of the giant Wells Fargo, which is on the receiving end of widespread public outrage and political scorn after it was revealed the company's brain...


Harken to exit Illinois Obamacare exchange

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:08:00 PDT

Harken Health is abandoning the state's Obamacare health insurance marketplace.

Harken, a subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare, said Thursday it will not offer plans on the exchange next year. Insurers Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and Land of Lincoln already have announced they won't offer plans on the exchange...


A year after VW scandal, consumers closer to restitution, buybacks

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:38:11 PDT

Jose Zapata faces a decision about what to do with his 2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI.

It was a year ago that the 40-year-old Crete resident, a self-described "hippie at heart" who also recycles, learned, along with more than 475,000 other VW and Audi owners and lessees nationwide, that the German automaker...


Banks warming up to mortgages again after housing crisis

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:03:00 PDT

If you want to buy a home and go to a bank for a mortgage, you may get a warmer welcome than people have received in years.

The mortgage lending market is thawing. Banks are providing more mortgages after essentially closing up shop when the housing crash and financial crisis devastated mortgage...


Pilots to start texting at O'Hare, Midway - but it's not what you think

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 15:18:49 PDT

Teens aren't the only ones who would rather text than talk.

The Federal Aviation Administration is bringing technology upgrades that let pilots and air traffic controllers communicate by text-based messages, not voice, to O'Hare and Midway airports this fall.

The new system, called Data Communications,...


Lawmakers to Wells Fargo CEO: 'Why shouldn't you be in jail?'

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:04:00 PDT

For the second time in two weeks, John Stumpf, the long-time chief executive of Wells Fargo, entered into the halls of Congress to take a bipartisan beating from lawmakers over the bank's role in a scandal involving the creation of hundreds of thousands of sham accounts to meet aggressive sales...


IMF chief Christine Lagarde talks up global trade - and the Cubs

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:46:00 PDT

Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund and one of the world's most powerful financial leaders, enjoyed a bit of a homecoming during her visit Wednesday to the Chicago area and Northwestern University in Evanston.

Lagarde, who is the IMF's managing director, spoke at the invitation...


Chicago loses major food trade show at McCormick Place

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 06:00:00 PDT

Chicago has lost one of its bigger trade shows, as the Food Marketing Institute said Wednesday it is pulling the plug on an event that traditionally has drawn thousands of food manufacturers and retailers from around the world to the city.

In announcing its decision to cancel FMI Connect, scheduled...


In Englewood, Whole Foods opens to cheers, high hopes

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 13:54:00 PDT

In the heart of Englewood on Wednesday morning, parking was hard to come by. Clusters of people walked along West 63rd Street carrying new grocery tote bags. Live music filled the air. Politicians sought out TV cameras. And shoppers in a persistent line out the front door withstood a passing rain...


This election year, costume shops are declaring an early victory

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 04:04:00 PDT

Many Americans may be cringing at this year's unconventional, contentious election season, but some merchants have spotted a silver lining: It's good for business.

Specifically, the costume business.

Election years are always a boon for Halloween sales, but this year's candidates are unusually...


Cards Against Humanity group put up 90-foot taunt of Donald Trump

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:38:00 PDT

Stuck in traffic near O'Hare International Airport, staring at that anti-Trump billboard and wondering who's on the Nuisance Committee that bankrolled it?

A super political action committee funded by ongoing sales of Cards Against Humanity's Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump card packs is spending...


Englewood hopes Starbucks, Whole Foods create 'ripple effect'

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 04:30:00 PDT

When Sophelia Baptiste helps open Englewood's first Starbucks Wednesday, the new barista will be thinking of her brother — a caramel macchiato fan who she said also dreamed of working at the coffee chain.

"I know he's proud of me right now," Baptiste, 30, said Tuesday as she donned her green apron...


Emanuel still short on food desert goals, even as Englewood Whole Foods opens

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 05:16:00 PDT

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will cut the ribbon Wednesday on his highest-profile project to combat Chicago's food deserts: a taxpayer-subsidized Whole Foods Market in Englewood.

But the mayor's much-publicized effort to provide greater access to fresh meat and produce in South Side and West Side neighborhoods...


Tribune Tower sold for mixed-use redevelopment

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 06:27:00 PDT

Tribune Tower, Chicago's monument to newspaper journalism, is sold.

Los Angeles-based developer CIM Group announced Wednesday it completed the $240 million purchase from Tribune Media, with plans to transform the historic North Michigan Avenue property into a mixed-use redevelopment.

Elements of...


Wells Fargo CEO forfeits $41 million in stock awards amid sales scandal

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 17:25:00 PDT

Wells Fargo says CEO John Stumpf and the executive who ran the bank's retail banking division will forfeit tens of millions of dollars in bonuses as the bank tries to stem a scandal over its sales practices.

The board of directors at the nation's second-largest bank said Tuesday that Stumpf will...


Ford, UAW use Twitter during debate to fact-check Trump on jobs to Mexico

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 12:43:00 PDT

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wasted no time Monday hitting one of his signature issues —€“ trade — and attacking Ford by claiming the Dearborn automaker is moving jobs to Mexico during the first presidential debate.The issue left Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on the defensive...


Chicago pharma company draws scrutiny for raising drug prices thousands of dollars

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:01:00 PDT

A Chicago-based pharmaceutical company that's selling skin medications for thousands of dollars is the latest to take heat in the nationwide furor over drug pricing.

Novum Pharma as of Sept. 12 was charging pharmacies a wholesale price of $7,968 for 48-gram tubes of skin gel Alcortin A, which can...


Concussion diagnoses for Illinois kids up 83 percent

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 14:44:49 PDT

The percentage of Illinois children diagnosed with concussions climbed by a whopping 83 percent between 2010 and 2015 as awareness of head injuries grew, according to new data released by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

Concussions for Blue Cross members ages 10 through 19 jumped from a...


Explaining business to the community, and the community to business

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:57:00 PDT

For the better part of the last three decades, I've enjoyed reporting on the universe of business, finance and commerce, as well as analyzing and opining about its tremendous impact on everyday people.

Throughout, my concentration has been on charting the highs, lows and in-between of Chicago-area...


Chicago-area home price gain beats index, but still lags year to date

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 11:18:20 PDT

Chicago-area home prices rose 0.9 percent from June to July, higher than the 0.6 percent average increase for 20 major metropolitan areas around the country tracked by the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index.

Despite Chicago's monthly gains, Chicago-area price appreciation has lagged most metro areas...


Hundreds of tech companies are letting employees skip work on Election Day

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 08:35:00 PDT

The 2014 electoral cycle marked a new low for U.S. voter turnout: Not since World War II had fewer Americans gone to the polls, as a percentage of the population.

Now, nearly 300 tech firms want to counter the decadeslong decline in voter participation by making Nov. 8, the day America will select...


Rick Bayless' Frontera Foods sold to ConAgra; chef's brand staying in Chicago

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:17:00 PDT

Frontera Foods, the Chicago-based gourmet Mexican food company started by chef Rick Bayless, has been purchased by ConAgra Foods, the packaged food giant known for such brands as Slim Jim, Banquet and Reddi-wip.

The acquisition, which closed Monday, moves the Frontera, Red Fork and Salpica grocery...


Charles R. Walgreen III, oversaw growth of chain started by grandfather, dies

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:49:00 PDT

Charles R. Walgreen III led the drugstore chain that bears his family's name through a period of significant change, shedding many ancillary businesses and focusing on store growth and a top-of-the-line pharmacy operation.

An innovator in introducing technology to operations, Walgreen — known to...


Hundreds laid off at Chicago-based Motorola Mobility

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 17:05:00 PDT

Chicago-based Motorola Mobility is shrinking again: Lenovo said Monday it was laying off hundreds of its 55,000 employees, with the majority of the cuts at Moto.

Beijing-based Lenovo said in a statement the cuts affect "less than two percent" of its global employees and are part of its ongoing...


Bats needs to close this deal before somebody buys CBOE

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:13:00 PDT

Two long-speculated acquisition candidates -- CBOE Holdings and Bats Global Markets -- are now merging in a $3.2 billion deal that will vault the exchange owners past rival Nasdaq in U.S. options trading. The transaction mostly makes sense from a strategic standpoint, as Gadfly explained last week....


Key financial aid date is fast approaching

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 15:29:00 PDT

Are you going to need help paying for college next fall?

Then picture this: More than 10 million students are getting ready to line up to get financial aid next year. Some will be successful getting what they need — others won't. And where they stand in line while they ask for aid can make a difference....


With increased competition from larger banks, Bank Black movement faces challenges

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 14:21:00 PDT

Lori Roper is planning her wedding and preparing to put all the arrangements into place: choosing the venue, ordering the cake, picking a dress, selecting music and opening a checking account at an African-American owned bank.

"This needed to be done," she said as she recently opened the account...


Here's the problem with sustainable beef (and pork)

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:13:00 PDT

Where's the beef?

If it's sustainable beef you're looking for, the answer is complex. And expensive.

In response to consumer demand, restaurants, grocers and other food service companies have shifted toward chickens and turkeys that are raised sustainably — "naturally," more humanely, with less...


New exhibit on American workers makes us think: Why do we work?

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:38:29 PDT

The great Chicago author and historian Studs Terkel once wrote this about work:

"It is about a search, too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying."



Gentrification along Chicago River worries longtime industrial businesses

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:44:00 PDT

The sun hadn't risen above the John Hancock Center a few miles to the east, but already heavy dump trucks were rumbling in and out of Bigane Paving to pick up their loads of asphalt for the day.

Nestled just south of Goose Island and a block north of a big townhouse development that the trucks...


Cubs, MLB suit up to catch unauthorized vendors

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 15:59:00 PDT

If the Cubs and Major League Baseball have their way, it's going to be harder for some to make green from Cubbie blue.

As the Cubs prepare for their postseason battle, the team and league are squaring off against vendors of alleged knockoff merchandise in the fight for fans' dollars.

"When people...


Blacklisted by the World Bank, Chicago firm still gets millions in new contracts

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:18:00 PDT

In 2006, the Mongolian Finance Ministry hired a small Chicago-based consulting firm called Glocoms to strengthen its budget planning. The $1.5 million job, financed by the World Bank, aimed to help a country still grappling with Soviet legacies to reallocate its spending and reduce its debt.



Target removes kids' shopping carts after kids went wild with them

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 07:49:00 PDT

An expanded pilot program that brought kids’ shopping carts to dozens of Target stores didn’t last very long.

The Minneapolis-based retailer pulled the plug on the test earlier this week, just a few weeks into it, after receiving an earful of complaints as customers vented on social media about...


Wells Fargo's collateral damage: Customers' credit scores

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 06:59:00 PDT

The unwanted accounts created by Wells Fargo & Co. employees trying to hit aggressive sale goals have already forced the bank to provide some 100,000 customers with refunds averaging $25 for fees and other expenses.

But that may be the easy part. There also is the collateral financial damage caused...


Yahoo hack: What to do if you have an account

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:26:00 PDT

As you may have heard, Yahoo confirmed Thursday that at least 500 million user accounts had been affected by a massive breach. Here are some answers to basic questions that you may have about the breach.

What information has been hacked?

Yahoo's chief information security officer, Bob Lord said...


Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg pledge $3 billion to fight diseases

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:35:00 PDT

After investing millions of dollars in education and opening their own private K-12 school this year, pediatrician Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, announced Wednesday that they will invest $3 billion over the next decade to fight diseases.

The funds will come...


Bargain chains lead list of fastest-growing retailers

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 13:49:00 PDT

Not all retailers are trimming back their brick-and-mortar footprints.

Dollar stores and off-price chains, taking advantage of solid sales and bargain-hunting shoppers, are on an expansion kick, claiming half the spots on a list of 10 retailers adding the most new store square footage, according...


U.S. grants Boeing, Airbus licenses to sell airplanes to Iran

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 14:53:00 PDT

Aviation giants Airbus and Boeing Co. have received permission from the U.S. government to sell aircraft to Iran, part of landmark deals potentially worth some $50 billion in total following last year's nuclear accord.

The announcements Wednesday came as Iranian and U.S. leaders are in New York...


Aetna, Humana insurance merger could hurt competition in Illinois, AMA says

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:41:00 PDT

A merger between insurance giants Aetna and Humana could threaten the quality and affordability of health care in Illinois and 14 other states, according to an American Medical Association analysis released Wednesday.

Aetna and Humana say they want to combine to offer better access to higher quality...


Former Chicago Bears tight end now cookie and yogurt CEO

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 04:00:00 PDT

From hard knocks to soft serve, a former Chicago Bear appears to have found sweet success in life after football.

Dustin Lyman, 40, a former Bears tight end, was appointed CEO of Famous Brands International, parent company of Mrs. Fields Cookies and TCBY Yogurt, according to a company news release...


CVS to offer curbside pickup in Chicago area

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 06:14:00 PDT

On shopping runs to most Chicago-area CVS stores, actually going inside the store is now optional.

CVS Health will begin letting customers order online and have purchases delivered to their vehicles at more than 4,000 of CVS' 9,600 retail pharmacies on Monday, including 51 Chicago stores and 130...


McDonald's exec heads to Dunkin' Donuts; burger chain says he will forfeit job perks

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 09:35:00 PDT

A longtime McDonald's executive who resigned abruptly last week has been named the new president of Dunkin' Donuts in the U.S. and Canada.

David Hoffmann was the president of McDonald's high-growth segment, which includes countries like China and Russia. The Oak Brook-based company announced his...


Angry lawmakers grill CEO over EpiPen price hikes

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 05:52:00 PDT

Lawmakers chastised Mylan's chief executive for amassing an $18 million salary at a contentious congressional hearing Wednesday afternoon, as she evaded questions about how much profit the pharmaceutical company made off the lifesaving allergy drug EpiPen.

Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the...


Breakthru Beverage execs sued over alleged New York smuggling scheme

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 11:50:00 PDT

Two top executives for Breakthru Beverage Group, an alcohol wholesale company co-led by Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz, were sued Tuesday for alleged involvement in a New York wine and spirits smuggling scheme.

Empire Merchants, a New York wine and spirits distributor, filed a civil suit in New...


Lou Malnati's sells a slice to investor Byron Trott's firm

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 10:59:00 PDT

Lou Malnati's Pizza, which has 46 Chicago-area locations and recently expanded to Phoenix, is taking on a low-key but high-powered investor to help with additional expansion.

BDT Capital Partners, an investment and advisory firm headed by former Goldman Sachs investment banker Byron Trott, has...


Fed keeps key rate unchanged but hints of coming hike

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:24:00 PDT

The Federal Reserve is keeping its key interest rate unchanged but signaling that it will likely raise rates before year's end.

The Fed said in a statement ending its latest policy meeting Wednesday that the U.S. job market has continued to strengthen and economic activity has picked up. But it...


Riverdale area suffers highest level of economic hardship in Chicago

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:48:00 PDT

With a per capita income of less than $7,500 and an unemployment rate at 40 percent, the Riverdale community area on Chicago's southern edge has the most economic hardship in the city.

That's according to a ranking of Chicago's 77 community areas released this week by the Great Cities Institute...


Menswear brand Peter Field wins Block 37 pop-up storefront contest

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:12:00 PDT

Chicago menswear brand Peter Field is the winner of Block 37's annual pop-up shop contest, giving the tailor and accessories designer a second downtown location inside the State Street shopping and dining center.

Peter Field won about five weeks' free rent in a 1,441-square-foot retail space on...


Transit-oriented housing in Chicago is back on track

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 06:38:00 PDT

Real estate developers and urban planners increasingly are casting their glances backward to create communities for tomorrow.

Starting in the mid-1800s, when trains became the primary mode of transportation, American cities clustered around railways. Cars didn't exist, so cities were necessarily...


State Farm policyholders get class-action status in $1 billion RICO lawsuit

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 15:30:00 PDT

A federal racketeering lawsuit involving State Farm and allegations of funneling money into the election of a state judge has been granted class-action status, potentially benefiting more than 4 million policyholders.

In 2012, plaintiffs that included Mark Hale of New York and Todd Shadle of Texas...


Cubs playoff run scores win for new radio partner WSCR

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 14:18:00 PDT

With the Cubs headed to the playoffs, riding the best record in baseball and favored to end a centurylong World Series drought, it's been a pretty good rookie season for new radio partner WSCR-AM 670.

The CBS-owned sports station is generating record ratings and revenue, and prepping for a potentially...


Wells Fargo CEO pummeled on Capitol Hill over multiyear scam

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 12:37:00 PDT

Wells Fargo's longtime chief executive John Stumpf endured more than two hours of pummeling Tuesday on Capitol Hill over a scheme in which bank employees created millions of sham accounts to meet aggressive sales goals.

"I have often said that banking is based on trust and that trust was broken...


Six Illinois Kmart stores closing by mid-December

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 10:48:00 PDT

Sears Holdings is closing six struggling Illinois Kmart stores by mid-December.

Kmarts in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood, New Lenox, Tinley Park, Joliet, Springfield and Macomb, along with a Merrillville, Ind., store, are part of the latest batch of closings from Hoffman Estates-based Sears....


Wilson Sporting Goods moving headquarters, 400 jobs to Prudential Plaza

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 20:30:00 PDT

Wilson Sporting Goods is moving its corporate headquarters to Prudential Plaza in Chicago's Loop neighborhood.

The 102-year-old company is moving the entire workforce of about 400 people at its current corporate headquarters on the Far Northwest Side, including employees working for the Louisville...


Walgreens offers dermatology consultations online

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 13:23:50 PDT

Walgreens customers can now get dermatologists' opinions on their bumps, lumps and red spots without leaving their homes.

The Deerfield-based drugstore chain announced Monday that it's offering so-called teledermatology services — dermatological consultations done through technology.

Customers can...


Lunch membership club MealPal launches, offers month of restaurant meals for $119

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 04:55:00 PDT

Can't decide what you want for your midday meal? A lunch membership service is launching in Chicago that will give downtown workers the chance to sample from 75 spots every weekday.

MealPass, which started up earlier this year in New York, San Francisco, Boston and Miami, has rebranded as MealPal...


For financial advisers, sussing out fear moves to the forefront

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 14:41:00 PDT

Does your financial adviser really know you?

He or she should. And I'm not talking about a handshake as you enter the office followed by an exchange of pleasantries such as, "How are the kids?" When the adviser launches into a plan for your money, and you simply nod "sure" without knowing what...


Shopping centers look to entertainment, recreation to fill empty anchors

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 12:21:00 PDT

At Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, shoppers can take in a comedy show, let kids burn off energy at the playground, get a manicure, peruse fine art and dine at a Pac-Man-themed restaurant where dishes are punctuated by bowling, arcade games and table tennis.

Oh, and there are stores, too.

"We want...


'Dark' former Dominick's stores frustrate suburbs

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 08:40:00 PDT

For going on three years, the former grocery store in downtown Schaumburg has been shuttered.

The Dominick's name is barely visible now, the windows are coated with a fine layer of grime and a chunk of the facade appears to be missing, exposing wooden beams.

Last July, Tony's Finer Foods bought...


Johnson & Johnson to buy Abbott's vision unit for $4.33B

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 12:37:00 PDT

Johnson & Johnson says it is paying more than $4.3 billion in cash to buy the eye health unit of Abbott Laboratories to boost its vision business.

The unit, called Abbott Medical Optics, makes lasers and other equipment used for cataract surgery and laser vision correction procedures. It also makes...


Athletico boss isn't done expanding company

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 11:51:00 PDT

Baby boomers' aches and pains are helping to drive business for physical therapy providers across the country, including Oak Brook-based Athletico Physical Therapy.

The company, founded by Mark Kaufman, just celebrated its 25th anniversary and has more than 350 clinics. Athletico has grown rapidly...


How to joyfully be yourself at work: Use marketing as your guide

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 05:20:00 PDT

I believe it was Rex Huppke (ahem) who once wrote:

"When we lose fundamental aspects of our personalities — like acting tough when we're innately gentle or keeping a quirky sense of humor at bay — our potential is limited. We are a less good version of ourselves."

Wise words. (I can now check "start...


Deadline looms for Illinois residents in state Herbalife settlement

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 14:42:00 PDT

Illinois residents who believe they were victimized by nutrition products seller Herbalife, which for years has faced allegations about its business practices, have until Friday to file a complaint with the state to potentially qualify for part of a $3 million settlement.

Attorney General Lisa...


Target explains how it will spiff up its struggling grocery business

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 07:12:00 PDT

When you head to a Target store to buy groceries these days, here's what the chain hopes you'll see: More organic and gluten-free foods. A wider selection in snack products such as yogurt. Fresher-looking fruit.

What you shouldn't expect to see any time soon? A butcher, a deli counter or a sushi...


In new batch of 'Star Wars' toys, heroine Jyn Erso is most popular

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 08:24:00 PDT

When toys tied to last year's "Star Wars" film hit shelves, fans weren't shy in pointing out one character's absence from much of the film merchandise, at least in her more heroic scenes.

A set of six action figures included an anonymous Stormtrooper but left out the film's heroine, Rey, who also...


Federal food stamp program to test online shopping for recipients

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 04:04:00 PDT

Starting next summer, Illinois residents on food stamps may be able to buy their groceries online through a two-year federal pilot program intended to increase food access for the poor.

Times, they are a'changin', though faster for some than others. Online shopping has dramatically altered buying...


Want to live off-campus in Chicago? Get ready to pay.

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 05:37:00 PDT

If you or your children are going to move off-campus at one of the top schools ranked this week by U.S. News & World Report, it's going to cost you.

In Chicago, a relatively pricey area of the country for rental housing, you are likely to have to pay about $1,687 a month if you attend the University...


Black United pilots allege discrimination in lawsuit, call for probe

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 14:05:00 PDT

Some African-American United Airlines pilots involved in a lengthy lawsuit over allegations of discrimination at the airline are asking Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice to look into their claims, their attorney said Thursday.

The pilots allege Chicago-based United passed them over for...


Illinois unemployment dropped to 5.5% in August as labor force shrank

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 12:12:00 PDT

Illinois' unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in August, the lowest it has been since the start of the Great Recession, but there was little cause to celebrate as most of the drop stemmed from a decline in the labor force.

Last month's unemployment rate is down from 5.8 percent in July; the rate...


University of Chicago Medicine breaks ground on new emergency department

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 12:51:00 PDT

A ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday marked the start of a $43 million project to convert part of a parking garage into a new emergency department at University of Chicago Medicine, bringing back trauma services to the South Side after a 25-year absence.

The new emergency department is expected...


Cook County to start program to help uninsured get health care

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 18:53:00 PDT

The Cook County Board approved an ordinance Wednesday to start a program to help those without health insurance get regular care so they don't wind up in the emergency room.

The program will allow uninsured Cook County residents earning up to twice the federal poverty level — in other words, $48,600...


Chicago area's poverty rate declined in 2015 as incomes rose

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 07:27:00 PDT

The Chicago metro area had nearly 52,000 fewer people living in poverty in 2015 than it did the year before, following national trends as its poverty rate dropped and household incomes rose — though the economic improvements locally were not as vigorous as national averages.

The poverty rate fell...


Former ITT Tech students declare debt strike: 'I am stuck up to my neck in debt for the rest of my life'

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 11:56:00 PDT

More than 170 former ITT Tech students have joined a debt strike, refusing to pay their federal loans in the wake of the for-profit school's abrupt closing.

The group, which includes six former students from Illinois, claims the shuttered school defrauded them with an education they called a "scam"...


Bayer and Monsanto to merge in $66B mega-deal that could reshape world's food supply

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 10:06:00 PDT

The German chemical company Bayer said it will take over U.S. seed giant Monsanto to become one of the world's biggest agriculture conglomerates.

The $66 billion deal — the largest corporate mega-merger in a year full of them — could reshape the development of seeds and pesticides necessary to...


Evanston mansion goes for $4.9 million, setting record for that city

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 07:41:00 PDT

A six-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot mansion in Evanston sold Friday for $4.9 million, which is the highest sale price of any house in Evanston history.

Built in 1911 and designed by Ernest Mayo, the Georgian Revival-style mansion overlooks Lake Michigan, Greenwood Street Beach and Burnham Shores...


Uber's self-driving car: Prepare to be thrilled and bored at the same time

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 11:28:00 PDT

An hour before dawn Wednesday, Uber hit the green light on a project that many here have seen, but never experienced. Until now.

Some of Uber's heaviest users woke up to an email Wednesday inviting them to test out the company's new self-driving cars, the centerpiece of a fully autonomous fleet...


Restaurant lunch business slides as menu prices rise

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 10:20:00 PDT

More people are choosing to brown-bag their midday meal instead of eating lunch in a restaurant as menu prices rise, research firm NPD Group said Tuesday.

Lunch, which accounts for a third of restaurant traffic, has seen steep declines over the last six months, NPD said. In the three months that...


Which Chicago-area companies offer the best adoption benefits?

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 03:00:00 PDT

Adopting? You may wish you worked at Abbott.

The north suburban health care company tied for third on an annual list of the nation's top 100 adoption-friendly workplaces, thanks to the generous financial assistance it offers to adoptive parents.

Abbott Laboratories is among 13 Chicago-area companies...


Middle class incomes had their fastest growth on record last year

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 12:38:00 PDT

The incomes of typical Americans rose in 2015 by 5.2 percent, the first significant boost to middle-class pay since the end of the Great Recession and the fastest increase ever recorded by the federal government, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

In addition, the poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage...


Billionaire Peter Thiel to Chicago: 'Very talented' folks head to coasts

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 04:45:00 PDT

Chicagoans can offer a profound thank you to billionaire Peter Thiel, who deigned to make a flying visit to our cow town to share a few pearls of wisdom Tuesday.

"If you are a very talented person, you have a choice: You either go to New York or you go to Silicon Valley," the 48-year-old PayPal...


Developers divulge details about Wrigley Field hotel project

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:44:00 PDT

The hotel being built opposite Wrigley Field won't be called Hotel Wrigley, Hotel Ernie or even Hotel Bryzzo.

The name will be Hotel Zachary, developers revealed Tuesday, along with new details about restaurants and other aspects of the property on the northwest corner of Clark and Addison streets.


United, Delta top DOT list of longest tarmac delays in July

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 14:39:00 PDT

Five United Airlines flights in July left passengers stranded on the tarmac long enough to warrant investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation, months after the airline was slapped with a fine over tarmac delays.

Airlines reported 11 domestic flights in which passengers had to wait on...


What to expect from iOS 10

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 09:25:00 PDT

The latest evolution of Apple's smartphone has arrived in the form of the iPhone 7, which features a new emphasis on wireless connectivity, a Taptic Engine borrowed from the Apple Watch, defense against sand and water, and two (two!) new stylish shades of black. You won't find a stereo jack on...


Why restaurants want you to order food on your phone

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 06:42:00 PDT

Swipe, click, food.

The ability to order food with the click of a few buttons on a smartphone is becoming widespread — even fast-food companies are getting in on the action. But the technology — which in some cases tracks a customer's location and times food preparation accordingly — can vary widely....


Care Bears, Transformers among Toy Hall of Fame finalists

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 11:05:00 PDT

The Fisher-Price Little People and Care Bears will square off against Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and Transformers for a place in the National Toy Hall of Fame.Whether any or all make it will be announced Nov. 10.The hall revealed 12 finalists for the class of 2016 on Tuesday at The Strong museum....


Sweet Spot: Margie's Candies staying put in Logan Square despite building's sale

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 14:09:00 PDT

The "hipster highway" and an ice cream parlor that has been around for almost 100 years go well together, a Chicago real estate investor is betting.

Margie's Candies has called a building in the quickly gentrifying Logan Square neighborhood home since 1921, and a recent sale of the building, announced...


Target's holiday hiring growth not coming from sales floor

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 14:24:00 PDT

Target is looking to hire more holiday employees this year, but the increase will come from behind-the scenes supply chain roles, not in-store customer service jobs.

The Minneapolis-based retail giant plans to hire more than 70,000 seasonal store employees this holiday season, the same figure as...


Olive Garden to sell 21,000 pasta passes Thursday — deal now is key tactic

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 11:51:00 PDT

Olive Garden, facing a restaurant industry awash in deals and promotions, is making a bigger bet on its most outlandish offer: the unlimited pasta pass.

The deal, which lets customers pay $100 and eat as much Olive Garden pasta as they want for seven weeks, will be available Thursday for a third...


State switches stance on hepatitis C drugs, expands access, but not all Medicaid patients qualify

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 11:41:00 PDT

The state of Illinois has backed off a 2-year-old policy that allowed only its sickest residents with hepatitis C who rely on the traditional Medicaid program to get disease-curing drugs.

The policy change, announced Friday evening, means Illinois residents on Medicaid with stage 3 liver scarring...


Closing of for-profit schools leaves thousands of students and an industry in limbo

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 06:42:00 PDT

The for-profit college boom has gone bust.

Closures of high-profile schools such as ITT Technical Institute have left thousands of students in limbo while raising questions about the future of an industry that provides training for vocational, technical and other midlevel skilled jobs.



Self-driving cars to cut U.S. insurance premiums 40%, Aon says

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 05:43:00 PDT

Premiums for U.S. auto insurers may drop more than 40 percent once the use of automated vehicles has been fully adopted by 2050 and driving becomes safer, according to insurance broker Aon Plc.

"We as an industry need to act quickly to ensure that we have the products available to align to the...


Firm expands family leave: 16 paid weeks off, caregivers for parents eligible

Fri, 9 Sep 2016 15:15:00 PDT

Could paid leave to care for elderly parents be the next big corporate perk?

Deloitte this week announced a new family leave program that goes beyond the generous maternity and paternity policies that are becoming common in some industries competing for high-skill talent.

The consulting firm, which...


9/11 loans were lifeline for Illinois small businesses: 'It saved our company'

Fri, 9 Sep 2016 13:33:00 PDT

After the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the U.S. government approved low-interest loans to more than 140 Illinois businesses that said the fallout from Sept. 11 took an economic toll on their operations.

Many of the "economic injury disaster loans" went to travel-related businesses...


Sexual harassment victims need male allies

Fri, 9 Sep 2016 07:09:00 PDT

Let's start with a simple thesis: Sexual harassment remains a serious problem in the workplace.

We don't need the high-profile harassment scandal still unfolding at Fox News to prove our case. But we can thank Gretchen Carlson and other women at the network who stepped forward, alleging truly wretched...


As craft spirits rise, booze industry more fluid than ever

Fri, 9 Sep 2016 07:32:00 PDT

The sudden rise of Angel's Envy bourbon was a perfect storm, as co-founder Marc Bushala recalls.

The whiskey was crafted by a legendary Kentucky master distiller, the late Lincoln Henderson. The bottle, curvier and more feminine than most whiskeys, stood out on the shelf. And at around the same...


Wells Fargo settlement over phony accounts raises questions about oversight

Sat, 10 Sep 2016 16:48:00 PDT

Wells Fargo, the nation's largest bank, scrambled on Friday to contain the fallout from an investigation that found its employees set up 2 million fake accounts that customers didn't ask for to get bonuses. The bank took out full-page ads in some newspapers to apologize and promised to change the...


Chicago nonprofit trains veterans to be software developers

Fri, 9 Sep 2016 10:51:00 PDT

Code Platoon, a Chicago nonprofit that puts military veterans through an immersive coding boot camp, graduated its first class this year with high hopes of addressing both tech talent gaps and challenges to veteran employment.

The class of nine, most of whom went on to do internships, represents...