Tailwinds to Push Profits for Airlines

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Passengers at Philadelphia Int'l Airport Dec 11 Janel Forte/Medill Reports
Passengers at Philadelphia Int’l Airport Dec 11 Janel Forte/Medill Reports

By: Janel Forte

This has been one heck of a year for the airline industry.

Through the year’s first nine months, earnings at every major carrier have risen. The year-end numbers due out soon will confirm what the industry, and Wall Street, already expect: the upward trend isn’t likely to be ending anytime soon.

The industry is benefiting from declining fuel prices, strong demand and — thanks to consolidation among players — the absence of the kind of profit busting price wars that once plagued the airline sector.

Continue reading “Tailwinds to Push Profits for Airlines”

Falling gas prices raise holiday spending prospects

By Melissa “Missy” Enaje

Santa might have to work overtime this holiday season as retail sales surged in November by a stronger-than-expected 0.7 percent, up more than 5 percent from a year ago, the Commerce Department reported. A sharp drop in energy prices is giving consumers more spending power and they appear to be using it. Continue reading “Falling gas prices raise holiday spending prospects”

Starting to make cents: North Side plan coming to fruition

Work being done on the facade of Wrigley Field near the Marquee Joe Musso/Medil Reports
Work being done on the facade of Wrigley Field near the Marquee
Joe Musso/Medil Reports

By Joe Musso

For the better part of the last century the Chicago Cubs have delivered an on-field product most fans would be ashamed of. The lovable losers’ ticket sales have also suffered over the past five years, but widespread change is on the horizon. Continue reading “Starting to make cents: North Side plan coming to fruition”

Peer-to-peer lending sees exponential growth

By Penny Yi Wang

In the past few years, consumers disillusioned with tight-fisted banks have jumped on the peer-to-peer lending bandwagon.

When the Great Recession hit, banks suffered big losses as borrowers defaulted on loans they had taken out during the economy’s long upturn. In response, lenders have drastically tightened their lending requirements. As a result, many borrowers with anything less than stellar credit now can’t qualify for traditional bank loans. Continue reading “Peer-to-peer lending sees exponential growth”

In the VC world, Chicago is the seventh city

by Lei Xuan

Timeline Startups
Click the image above to see the hundred million dollar deals in Chicago since 2011.

 

Five years ago, when Stanford MBA graduate Brian Spaly decided to build his second online fashion startup, he chose Chicago.

“I love the city and felt that running a startup business focused on apparel here would draw much interest,” said the CEO of Trunk Club, a personalized online men’s clothing store that had raised $12.4 million in venture capital before being scooped up by Nordstrom Inc. for $350 million earlier this year.

Spaly’s is one of the success stories in Chicago’s venture capital-backed startup community, which has grown exponentially in the past five years, but still trails many other U.S. cities. Continue reading “In the VC world, Chicago is the seventh city”

Local businesses opt for ‘crowdfunding’ via Kickstarter

By Brittany Magee

Brandon Byxbe faced a challenge. In order to launch his cafe, he needed to outfit the kitchen with the proper equipment– pretty big-ticket, specialized gear. Unfortunately, the entrepreneur didn’t have the money to do so.

Byxbe is the owner of the Amazing Kale Burger: a Chicago-based company that makes vegan, gluten-free, soy-free burgers. He started out in 2012, selling his kale burgers at farmer’s markets, and to local grocers and restaurants. Since then, Byxbe’s veggie burgers have gained a strong following, with customers clamoring for more and more.

And now, responding to that growing demand, Byxbe plans to open the Amazing Kale Burger Lunch Counter on Howard Street.

“I’m hoping to open by the first of the year,” Byxbe said.

Brandon Byxbe, owner of The Amazing Kale Burger
Brandon Byxbe, owner of The Amazing Kale Burger

Before opening, however, he needed to purchase a 40-gallon steam kettle and a commercial convection oven, which will allow him to increase the scale of production for his burgers.

Together, the kettle and oven would cost nearly $5,000 — even if he bought used items. Byxbe didn’t have that money. The Amazing Kale Burger needed help.

In order to get the funding he needed, Byxbe turned to the global crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter. Continue reading “Local businesses opt for ‘crowdfunding’ via Kickstarter”

Proper Suit unites technology and tradition in custom suit-making

By: Marika Bastrmajian

What started as a small operation in Richard Hall’s garage five years ago is now a million-dollar success for Hall and co-founder McGregor Madden.  Proper Suit is a technology-based personalized custom suit-maker headquartered in Chicago with studios now in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland.

The company prides itself on its high-quality laser-cut suits using AutoCAD technology, that range from $850 to $2,800, depending on the fabric.  After reaching $1.2 million in revenue in 2013, Proper Suit has been pulling in between $130,000 to $150,000 a month in 2014.

As incomes fall, Illinois farmers prepare for sparse decade

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By Nicholas Heinzmann

A plummet in grain prices is turning the Illinois farm economy on its head and slashing incomes for farmers, who will need to adjust their strategies to adapt to leaner times.

Corn prices have fallen by nearly half and soybeans are down by one-third from the highs reached in 2012. That means average incomes on grain farms would return to levels not seen since 1998, according to Gary Schnitkey, an economist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Continue reading “As incomes fall, Illinois farmers prepare for sparse decade”

U.S.-based Major League Soccer playing in the shadow of global teams

Patrons at Chicago's Globe Pub watch the 2014 MLS Cup Final. Nick Kariuki/ Medill
Patrons at Chicago’s Globe Pub watch the 2014 MLS Cup Final. Nick Kariuki/ Medill

By Nick Kariuki

The large group at Chicago’s Globe Pub, many sporting jerseys from soccer teams all over the country, was focused on Sunday’s Major League Soccer Cup Final — and the craft beers they were sipping. Soccer scarves from around the world mounted the walls, along with signed, framed photos and jerseys.

Unfortunately, although both teams had made exciting playoff runs to reach the final, neither the Los Angeles Galaxy nor the New England Revolution were playing at their best in the big game. Viewers in the pub began to voice their frustration at the misplaced passes and what seemed like both teams inability to keep the ball on the ground.

“It’s like watching little kids play soccer,” one patron remarked.

Continue reading “U.S.-based Major League Soccer playing in the shadow of global teams”