Raised in Chicago: West Side urban farm reaps aquaponics harvest

By H. Will Racke It’s 10:30 on a sunny morning in West Humboldt Park and  time for Benjamin Kant to feed his fish. The 30-year-old entrepreneur scoops a bucket full of pellets and steps up to a five-foot tall blue tank teeming with hundreds of tilapia. Kant raises the bucket over the open tank and […]

Manufacturing educators see career opportunities despite overall sector contraction

By H. Will Racke Originally published on March 15, 2016. Updated on April 13, 2016. Even though Illinois today supports fewer manufacturing jobs than it did before the Great Recession, Chicago-area vocational trainers see a persistent, unmet need for skilled machinists and industrial maintenance technicians.  Their starting salaries are in the $50,000 range, and with experience […]

Chicago tech startup takes dog-walking digital

By H. Will Racke Sometimes, inspiration for extraordinary ideas strikes at ordinary moments. In the case of Lina Pakrosnyte, founder and CEO of Urban Leash, that moment occurred in the summer of 2013 when her mother was visiting and lamented that she had to run home to let the dog out. As the Uber arrived, […]

U.S. manufacturing contracts again but may be on the verge of a rebound

BY H. Will Racke The U.S. manufacturing sector contracted again in February — but showed signs of future renewed strength due to improving production and new orders. The Institute for Supply Management’s latest report showed that its purchasing manager’s index (PMI), a composite indicator of manufacturing activity, rose to 49.5 from 48.2 in January. That […]

Federal Signal shares hit hard as gloomy guidance spooks investors

By H. Will Racke Even though it surpassed fourth quarter earnings expectations, Federal Signal Corp. saw its shares nosedive Monday after the manufacturing company issued pessimistic guidance for its 2016 performance. The share price of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based maker of safety and environmental-services equipment dropped by 22 percent, closing the day at $11.86. Investors […]

Illinois hopes to emulate other states with new business development partnership

By H. Will Racke Illinois is the latest state to establish a public-private economic development corporation in hopes that it will spur business investment. It’s especially needed now as the state continues to lose jobs and residents to its neighbors. Modeled on similar groups in other states, the new Ilinois Business and Economic Development Corporation […]

Caterpillar shares rise on upside earnings

By H. Will Racke Caterpillar Inc. managed to surpass Wall Street’s fourth-quarter expectations even as fierce global headwinds battered earnings. In the latest quarter, the heavy-equipment titan showed a net loss of $87 million, or 15 cents per diluted share, in sharp contrast with earnings of $757 million, or $1.23 per share, in the final […]

ITW profits hold steady despite demand slowdown

By H. Will Racke Illinois Tool Works Inc. managed to beat earnings expectations for the fourth quarter even as profits remained flat amid a challenging market for industrial goods. In the latest quarter, the Glenview, Ill.-based manufacturing conglomerate posted net income of $450 million, or $1.23 per diluted share, in a performance that was identical […]

Consumer price index dips in December, thanks to falling oil prices

CPI pic

By H. Will Racke Consumer prices declined by 0.1 percent in December, held down by lower food prices and a sharp decline in energy costs. The seasonally-adjusted overall inflation rate was dampened by sagging commodity prices and a saturated global oil market, which caused the food and energy categories to sink by 0.2 and 2.4 […]

Ailing markets signal hard times ahead for Caterpillar


By H. Will Racke Last year was a rough one for Caterpillar Inc. Unfortunately for the heavy machinery giant, a cyclical downturn in the global industries it supplies could make 2016 as bad or worse. The Peoria, Ill.-based firm is the world’s largest manufacturer of construction, mining and energy extraction equipment. Its dominant position in […]