Thumbs-up: To economic growth in DeKalb County. After years of anemic growth that followed a steep economic recession, our area once again is showing solid growth in key economic areas. At the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp.’s annual “State of the County” dinner Thursday, DCEDC Executive Director Paul Borek told the crowd that unemployment now is at 4 percent, and many employers are either expanding their operations or planning to buy new equipment. The job market is good enough that there is concern the labor market is tightening, meaning that we’ll need more people here who want to work and earn money. After so many years in the doldrums, it’s great to see bona fide economic expansion taking place. Now we only need more houses and more people to fill the jobs that are being created.
Thumbs-down: To a wet and dreary start to October. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch throughout northeastern Illinois until 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon, with rainfall to continue all weekend and into next week, with thunderstorms mixing with a warm front that can have the potential to create tornadoes. Several high school football games were started earlier to make way for the rains expected Friday night. Both the Kishwaukee and Rock rivers are above normal levels, and we are hopeful that flooding issues will be avoided. Let’s hope this weekend isn’t a total washout.
Thumbs-up: To on-campus internship opportunities for Northern Illinois University students. On Wednesday, NIU officials held a grand opening for the new code_orange program, a partnership between the university and credit-card issuer Discover Financial Services Inc., that employs 37 students. The code_orange program gives students in computer science and engineering, telecommunications, information security and other areas the opportunity to help develop new technologies in mobile software development, web-application coding, Bluetooth development and person-to-person payment systems. It’s open to students with a 3.0 or higher GPA; those working in the program now say it’s already been a valuable experience. We hope NIU President Lisa Freeman and her administration are successful in forging more partnerships with businesses and creating opportunities for on-campus students.
Thumbs-up: To a new scholarship fund in Sycamore. The DeKalb County Community Foundation this week announced that Luan and Greg Olson had created a new fund to award an annual scholarship to a Sycamore High School graduate. The foundation said that the Olsons, who both attended Illinois universities, had benefited from scholarships when they went to school and wanted to pay it forward. The community foundation now has more than 70 scholarship funds established to help local students advance in their education and realize their dreams. Anyone who wants to make a contribution to any of the funds can do so online at dekalbccf.org/donate or by mail to the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 475 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore, IL 60178. College is not getting cheaper, and whatever can be done to reduce the debt load for tomorrow’s leaders is a good step.