Thumbs-up: To new jobs in Sycamore. With the new Meijer big-box store now under construction on Peace Road approaching its planned spring opening, the company said this week it plans to hire about 300 people, for jobs including cashiers, meat cutters, cake decorators and other roles. It's not at all uncommon to hear people asking in person and on social media if anyone in the community is hiring – and this is the second time in as many weeks we've been able to say, "Yes!" Employment opportunities are the foundation of healthy and growing communities. The jobs we know will be available and those that could be created if a couple of major employers eyeing sites on DeKalb's south side agree to locate here are reason for optimism about the area's economic fortunes moving forward.
Thumbs-up: To the most recent DeKalb Chamber of Commerce honorees. The chamber on Thursday named Jamrah Middle East Cuisine its Business of the Year, and the Family Service Agency its Nonprofit Organization of the Year at its annual dinner. Jamrah, owned by Ammar and Jennifer Mahmood, opened a second location in the Plaza DeKalb building downton in 2019 to go along with its Sycamore store. The business has gained a reputation for being charitable, including with its tradition of offering free meals to the community on Christmas Day. Jamrah also offers some fare that's unique to the area – with delicious falafel, shawarma, baklava and hummus on the menu. The Family Service Agency was honored in part because of its work to help residents displaced by fires at apartment buildings last summer. The agency, led by Executive Director Tynisha Clegg, also moved into a new building at 1325 Sycamore Road in 2019. DeKalb is lucky to have these organizations, as well as two new Chamber Hall of Fame members, Jennifer Groce and Terry "T.D." Ryan, as part of the community.
Thumbs-down: To the global spread of a scary virus. On Friday, health officials announced that a woman in Chicago had been diagnosed with a new strain of coronavirus that has led to the quarantine of entire cities in China. The area patient is a woman in her 60s who returned from Wuhan, China, on Jan. 13 and went to see a doctor days later because she was feeling sick. The woman is the second person to contract the virus, which has killed more than 25 people in China and led to a travel ban across much of that country. Health officials caution that the Chicago-area woman likely will not be the last person to be diagnosed with this virus, which has not been seen before and has a two-week incubation period. There's no signs of any need for panic, but vigilance to keep this virus from establishing any foothold in the U.S. is critical.