<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Inc Well | Small Business Advice for Chicago Entrepreneurs]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/inc-well http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Tue, 31 Mar 2015 04:03:35 -0500 Tue, 31 Mar 2015 04:03:35 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Starbucks to Introduce New "Cold Brew" at Chicago Locations]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:57:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/starbucks+cold+brew.jpg

Starbucks customers in Chicago will soon see a new drink popping up on menus in the area.

Beginning Tuesday, the coffee company plans to introduce its new “Starbucks Cold Brew” to the menus of nearly 2,800 locations, including stores in Chicago and other cities where “iced coffee is most popular.”

The Cold Brew drink features coffee that is slowly steeped for 20 hours using cool water. The beverage is different from traditional iced coffee, which is made by brewing hot coffee at double-strength and pouring over ice.

“Iced coffee and espresso beverages have a stronger, roastier flavor with a bit of nuttiness that comes from brewing with hot water,” Michelle Sundquist with Starbucks’ Research and Development team said in a statement. “Our Cold Brew is smooth and rich, it’s very refreshing with chocolate and light citrus notes.”

Participating stores will only brew one small batch of the Cold Brew each day so quantities of the drink will be limited, the company said.

State's included in Tuesday's launch are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, DC and Wisconsin.

The release of the beverage comes after the company introduced a limited-time Birthday Cake Frappuccino to celebrate the blended drink’s 20th birthday.

The Frappuccino special ends Monday. 



Photo Credit: Starbucks]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's to Test All-Day Breakfast ]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:02:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+sign+new+1.jpg

Could you soon get an Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich after 10:30 a.m.?

A McDonald's spokesperson told NBC Chicago the company plans to begin testing all-day breakfast next month at select restaurants in the San Diego area. 

"We know our customers love McDonald’s breakfast and they tell us they’d like to enjoy it beyond the morning hours," the company said in a statement. "We look forward to learning from this test, and it’s premature to speculate on any outcomes. We’re excited to serve our customers in this area some of McDonald’s great-tasting breakfast sandwiches, hash browns and other favorites all day long."

The move comes as the fast food giant based in Oak Brook, Illinois, fights to maintain its slot at the top of the fast food breakfast chain.

The president of McDonald's USA, Jeff Stratton, told the Associated Press last year that the chain was in the early stages of looking at whether it can extend its breakfast hours.

According to the company’s website, the reason breakfast isn’t served all day is because of the size of their kitchen grills.

“They simply don’t have the room for all of our menu options at one time — especially considering we use our grill to prepare many items on our breakfast menu,” the website reads.

McDonald's has continuously entertained the idea of serving breakfast throughout the day. The company offers an "After Midnight" menu at select locations. The menu, available from midnight to 4 a.m., consisted of a limited mix of breakfast and lunch items so kitchen operations wouldn't be overwhelmed.

McDonald's has long been the fast-food leader in the mornings, with its popular Sausage Biscuits, Hotcakes and other items pulling in roughly 20 percent of the company's U.S. sales. But the chain has faced stiffer competition in recent years, with competitors such as Starbucks and Subway rolling out breakfast sandwiches as well.

McDonald's, which has more than 14,000 U.S. locations, has also said it plans to step up its marketing of breakfast as it faces intensifying competition.

As for extending its breakfast hours, the world's largest hamburger chain is known for treading extremely carefully when discussing any tests or potential changes. Such matters are considered sensitive in large part because they would require the support of the company's network of franchisees.

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<![CDATA[Chicago Funeral Home to be Turned Into Apartments]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 13:04:06 -0500 Flickr)]]> Flickr)]]> http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lakeview+funeral+home.jpg

A real estate developer considering turning an old Chicago funeral home into apartments and shops is hoping location will trump the creepiness factor.

David Trandel acknowledges the place "is creepy" and says that could be "a real issue," but he believes the former Herdegen-Brieske Funeral Home in the Lakeview neighborhood is too much of a gem to tear down.

Trandel plans to gut the inside while keeping its Gothic revival terra cotta facade. He'll also bring back architectural components that point to the building's past.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the building dates back to 1912.

For those who find the idea of living in an old funeral home off-putting, Trandel quips, "It's better to be a (tenant) than a customer."



Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers/Flickr]]>
<![CDATA[Frappuccino Turns 20, Starbucks Releases New Flavor]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:31:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Birthday_Cake_Frappuccino_%283%29.jpg

Get it while it’s… cold?

Starbucks’ popular frappuccino has turned 20 and to honor the beverage's big birthday, the company has debuted a new specialty drink—the Birthday Cake Frappuccino.

The limited-time beverage, a vanilla bean and hazelnut mixture topped with raspberry-infused whipped cream, will be available at Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada from Thursday to Monday.

The iconic drink was first released in the summer of 1995 with coffee and mocha flavors available. The drinks was initially made without whipped cream.

“The first week of launch we were tracking sales, and it was something like 200,000 drinks the first week – when we were hoping for 100,000,” Dan Moore, director of brand management at Starbucks, said in a statement. “The next week it was 400,000 and the next it was 800,000. We had figured it would do well in Southern California – but it sold just as well in Chicago, Vancouver B.C. and Boston. It was huge.”

The drink changed the company’s customer base, giving them a way to bring in people who weren’t typically coffee drinkers.

In 1999, Starbucks released the Caramel Frappuccino, complete with the now-typical “dome lid” for whipped cream.

“At the time, domed lids were radical thinking, so was the idea of adding whipped cream,” said Dina Campion of Starbucks’ Digital Team. “But for our customers it represented a momentary break – an escape in their day.”

In 2002, came the Blended Crème beverage, followed by the Frappuccino Light. By 2010, customers could customize their frappuccinos to be made with milk or soy, various coffee types and their preferred syrups and toppings.

The blended beverages are now available in 66 countries with more than 36,000 different drink combinations.

Other countries have unique flavors like the Coffee Jelly Frappuccino and Red Bean Green Tea Frappuccino in Asia, the Algarrobina Frappuccino in Peru or the chocolate Brigadeiro Frappuccino in Brazil. 



Photo Credit: Starbucks]]>
<![CDATA[Controversial Beer Pulled From Shelves at Binny’s]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:10:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sweetwater5.jpg

If you’re looking for a Happy Ending – meaning SweetWater Brewing Co.’s popular craft beer that was rolled out in Chicago this week – you won’t be able to find it at Binny’s Beverage Depot in Lincoln Park, as the store has deemed it too controversial for their shelves.

Craft beer makers aim to create products with a look and taste that stands out from their mainstream competitors, but to Binny’s Lincoln Park beer manager Adam Vavrick they sometimes go too far.

"This label is about a female Asian sex worker manually masturbating a man to orgasm and cleaning up the ejaculate with tissues," Vavrick told The Chicago Tribune’s resident spirits columnist Josh Noel. "Why is that appropriate on a beer label?"

Vavrick does not stand alone in his stance against beer makers who roll out sexist product labels. He told the publication he only pulled it from shelves after others brought it to his attention and were “visibly upset” by the image. His co-workers agreed.

The founder of metro Minneapolis craft beer retailer The Four Firkins, Jason Alvery, wrote about the same issue in a recent blog post where he says he’s sadly had to pull “blatantly misogynistic” beers more than once.

Alvery pointed out that many craft breweries “seem to forget that their customer base is not exclusively 23-year-old-guys,” and even if it was, he knows, “plenty of 23-year-old guys who are mature enough to realize these labels are terrible.”

One product, he referred to as the most offensive one he’s seen in his career. The beer was called “Mt. U Cream Ale,” and you can imagine the art direction the label designers went in with that not-so-subtle innuendo.

As for SweetWater Brewing Co.’s Happy Ending, the founder Freddy Bensch told the Trib despite the controversy, it was just supposed to be a joke and that no harm was intended.

Which brings up another point from Alvery’s blog post. He spoke to Ben McCoy, the owner of branding and web specialist company Bicycle Theory, who didn’t have to hear Bensch’s side of the story to expect what he might say.

“Some may say, 'Relax, it’s just a joke.'” McCoy said. “And that’s great. If your brand is a joke.”

McCoy went on to comment that although spurring controversy with suggestive sexual innuendos may help sales in the short-term, male-dominated industries often forget that it is not going to broaden a brand’s reach for the long-run.

“It may spur a few individuals to pick one up for fun, but it also objectifies half the population,” he told Alvery. “And over the long-term, this approach will almost certainly create more problems than it’s worth.”



Photo Credit: BeerPulse.com]]>
<![CDATA[Malwarebytes CEO: It All Started With My Parents' Infected Computer]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:03:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/marcin_kleczynski_1200x675_420078147910.jpg Malware affects consumers and business alike and can damage your computer, steal your data, and take your money. At 14, Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes, accidentally got a virus on his parents' computer. After learning how to remove the malware, he started his company by building freeware apps to help automate the malware removal process. Today, Malwarebytes' mission is to create software apps that help consumers and businesses defeat malware.]]> <![CDATA[Kraft-Heinz Merger Could Mean No More Jell-O: Report]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:39:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jell-O-theft.jpg

The beginning of ketchup mac and cheese could mean the end of Jell-O.

The recently announced merger between Kraft Foods and H.J. Heinz Co. could leave some poorly performing brands in the lurch, including the childhood favorite Jell-O, according to the Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar.

"Despite multiple stabs at putting the Jell-O brand on more stable ground ... the business continues to falter. We think management may now opt to reallocate investment dollars toward more profitable initiatives," Erin Lash, a senior equity analyst for Morningstar, said in a report.

Heinz, which is based in Pittsburgh, announced it was buying Illinois-based Kraft Wednesday. The company will acquire all Kraft brands, including Capri Sun, Cool Whip, Kool-Aid, Oscar Mayer and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

The companies plan to close the deal in the second half of this year.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Lands' End Recalls Children's Pajamas for Flammability Risk]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:44:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lands+ends+pajamas.jpg

The clothing retailer Lands' End issued a recall for several styles of children's pajamas after a test showed they posed an unreasonable risk of catching on fire.

The Dodgeville, Wisc., company recalled 25 potentially affected pajama styles that were purchased between January 2014 and February 2015.

The pajamas were only sold online and through the Lands' End Kids catalog and were not available in stores. Lands' End will reach out to all customers directly and will credit their full purchase as well as issue a $15 Lands' End gift card, the company said in a statement.

Lands' End asks customers who purchased the pajamas to stop wearing them immediately and return them to the company, which will provide a prepaid U.S. Postal Service label.

According to Lands' End, the pajamas passed the initial safety tests. The flammability issue was discovered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, who tested one of the sleepwear styles after it was already available for purchase and determined it did not meet federal flammability standards for children's sleepwear. Lands' End then recalled 25 styles that were purchased from the same vendor.

The pajamas were imported from China, according to Lands' End. The clothing company did not buy any other products from the vendor in question.

For more information on the recall, click here.



Photo Credit: Lands' End]]>
<![CDATA[OK Go Films First Commercial for Chinese Furniture Company]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:49:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ok+go+ad.jpg

OK Go has officially made their first commercial.

Shifting their focus from making visually mind-blowing music videos, the band has now turned their attention to making an optical illusion-filled commercial for Chinese furniture store Red Star Macalline.

While the band has previously worked with brands like Chevrolet and Google, the latest ad marks the first commercial the group has filmed.

The video references OK Go’s music video for “The Writing’s on the Wall,” but is filmed to a remixed version of the tune “I Won’t Let You Down.”

“Ya, it’s super good,” bassist Tim Nordwind said in a video promoting the commercial.
 



Photo Credit: YouTube
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<![CDATA[McDonald's Launches Big Mac Fashion Collection]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:30:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/big+mac+shop+site.jpg

You might be able to smell like Burger King’s Whopper, but now you can also look like McDonald’s Big Mac.

The company on Tuesday released a new lifestyle collection, complete with clothing, bedding, wallpaper, boots, and even dog jackets, all of which are stamped with images of the fast food chain’s iconic Big Mac.

The line launched in Stockholm Sweden during a Big Mac fashion show, which featured models walking a “McCatwalk” in white garments covered in images of the meaty meal.

The move was part of a global “imlovinit” campaign that featured 24 hours of McDonald’s surprises in 24 cities.

The event also included a Ne-Yo concert in Los Angeles, an ice coupon machine in Rio de Janeiro, a ball pit in the shape of a giant coffee cup in Sydney, Australia, a giant Big Mac selfie in Dubai and a “Joy Maze” in Bucharest, Romania.



Photo Credit: Big Mac Shop
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago-Area Competition Seeks "Big Ideas" From Entrepreneurs]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 19:57:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lightbulb_generic.jpg

Got an idea you’ve always wanted to create but haven’t had the resources to do it? Now might be your chance.

The Big Sell Entrepreneurship Competition, a national competition set to be held in Northwest Indiana next month, will accept applications from local entrepreneurs and startups through March 29.

The top 50 ideas will be selected to participate in a competition on April 18 at the Radisson Star Plaza in Merrillville, Indiana with the possibility of winning cash, services like legal guidance, accounting and marketing, office space, and the opportunity to have Purdue University Calumet students help develop a business model and plan for their idea.

The winners are selected by audience members who will judge the ideas during the competition.

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<![CDATA[Why Less is More for Playboy.com]]> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:10:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/177*120/hugh+heffner.jpg

Playboy's website is now safe for work—well, some of it.

The iconic publication, a men’s lifestyle magazine known for its photographs of nude women, has transformed its online presence over the last year to feature more “safe for work” content and the move has apparently paid off.

According to Adweek, Playboy saw a 258 percent year-over-year increase in unique visitors from January 2014 to January 2015.

Last year, the brand began transitioning their digital content to clickable, shareable, readable articles like “19 Best Worst Excuses for Calling in Sick” and “When You Should Catcall a Woman” (spoiler alert: the answer is don’t).

The move reportedly comes after Playboy.com moved its editorial from a third-party content creator to in-house where they started emphasizing the “men’s lifestyle” element of the brand.

The publication grew from 5.5 million global unique visitors in July 2014, to 21.5 million global unique visitors in January 2015, Adweek reports. It also went from 50,000 video views in July 2014 to 6 million views by December 2014.

The brand was also named on Shareablee blog’s “Top 25 U.S. Social Brands 2014.”

Playboy ranked 15th on the list with more than 103 million social media interactions.

In addition to the safe-for-work content creation, Adweek reports Playboy also partnered with Stolichnaya Premium Vodka to create “The Playboy,” an advice section for millennial men.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Two Craft Brewers From South, West Coast to Set Up Shop in Chicago]]> Sat, 21 Mar 2015 16:06:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/craft+beer+getty.jpg

Chicago's craft beer market continues to grow, as two new brewers plan to expand their horizons to the city this spring.

San Francisco-based 21st Amendment Brewery will bring its whole menu of year-round and seasonable beers to Chicago in April, and Atlanta-based SweetWater Brewing Company launches in Chicago next week, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

The California brewery will introduce the Windy City to Back in Black IPA, Brew Free Or Die IPA and Down to Earth, a session IPA, for its year-round selection. Seasonal beers include Hell or High Water Watermelon Wheat and Fireside Chat. The beer will be available on tap and in six-packs of cans.

SweetWater Brewing Company will bring a taste of the South to Chicago with their 420 Extra Pale Ale, SweetWater IPA, SweetWater Blue and Take Two Pils. They will all be sold on draft, in six-packs of bottles and in 12-packs of cans.

21st Amendment Brewery and SweetWater Brewing Company are two of the largest craft brewers in the United States, according to Crain's.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Ranks No. 6 For America’s Hardest Working Cities: Report]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 14:38:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/190*120/1310105181.jpg

Chicago has long claimed to be “the city that works,” but according to a new study, we’re not the hardest working.

A report released Wednesday by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer boasts that they are actually the ones that take the crown for the hardest working city in America. Chicago didn’t even place in the top five.

The findings were calculated by analysis of workplace trends of each city – averaging the number of hours workers put in on top of their average commute time for each week.

A New Yorker’s typical work week and commute time added up to 49.1 hours, the study shows, making them have longer workweeks than workers in 29 other major U.S. cities.

New York’s top spot is followed by San Francisco, Washington, Houston and Forth Worth, Texas. Chicago comes in sixth place.

According to the study, the average Chicagoan clocks in 42.36 hours of work each week and has an average weekly commute of five hours and 25 minutes – a total time of 48 hours and one minute spent dedicated to their workplace.

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<![CDATA[State Farm Gets FAA Approval to Test Drones]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:41:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/drone+generic.jpg

State Farm says it has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to test the use of drones.

The Bloomington-based company is the first insurer in the U.S. to receive FAA permission to test unmanned aircraft systems for commercial use. State Farm said it plans to use the aircraft to “assess potential roof damage during the claims and respond to natural disasters.”

“The potential use of UAS provides us one more innovative tool to help State Farm customers recover from the unexpected as quickly and efficiently as possible," Wensley Herbert, Operations Vice President – Claims, said in a statement.

The first flights will be tested in Bloomington and will evolve to testing in real-world scenarios, the company said.

A spokeswoman for State Farm said the time frame is “fluid” but the company plans to begin testing after they pick which systems they will test and find pilots to man the devices.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Uber to Test Chinese Electric Vehicles in Chicago]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:09:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Uber-Generic.jpg

Uber plans to take the Windy City on an environmentally-friendly test drive.

Autoblog reports the ridesharing company is conducting a pilot program in Chicago that tests Chinese brand electric vehicles. The program includes partnering with Chinese auto company BYD and using a test fleet of 200 of the brand’s E6 hatchback.
About 25 of these cars have already begun shuttling Uber riders citywide with numbers expected to expand through the year, according to Reuters.
If the program proves successful, Uber may expand the program to other cities.
“We are interested in the potential of expanding the program, but remain focused on the pilot in Chicago,” said Altmin.
The ridesharing company hopes the test will encourage Uber drivers to buy or lease cars. The BYD vehicles used are sold through Chicago-based electric and hybrid car seller Green Wheels USA. Uber drivers participating in the program can sign up for a standard lease, a lease-to-own program or pay $200 weekly to just use an E6 hatchback for their shifts. The final arrangement involves drivers returning hatchbacks to the dealer at the end of the workday for charging.
The E6 is a five-door hatchback that uses an electric motor, makes 101 horsepower and tops speed at 87 miles per hour. BYD publicized the program on its Facebook page and claims that the E6 has a 186-mile range on a single charge. The car model carries an EPA-certified range of 127 miles for the 2014 model year, however.
Plans to launch sales of the E6 in the U.S. have been met with delays. Although BYD wanted to start sales back in 2012, sales of the E6 nationwide eventually became limited to fleet sales.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[M Burger Dishes Out Free Burgers to Celebrate Birthday]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 17:45:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/188*120/M+Burger.jpg

M Burger fans will want to hear this—the popular Chicago-based chain will give out free burgers with any purchase Wednesday.

The move is to celebrate five years since the company first opened its Huron Street location, but the free burger promotion will be available at any of the chain’s four Chicago locations and their Skokie store.

The free burgers include hamburgers, cheeseburgers, their signature M Burgers and, yes, any burger on their “Secret Menu.”

The first fast-casual burger joint from Lettuce Entertain You, M Burger was born on the wall opposite of Tru, one of Chicago’s top fine dining destinations. The location quickly drew a strong following for high quality burgers, fries and shakes at fast-food prices. 



Photo Credit: Facebook.com/MBurgerChicago]]>
<![CDATA[4 Reasons Your Business May Need to "Rightsize"]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 14:03:22 -0500

Whether U.S. businesses are still on a staffing pause due to the recession, or feeling optimistic about the economy, there is a new trend reshaping office markets across the country-- rightsizing.

While this term doesn’t always imply a decrease in space, that has certainly been the case with most businesses, especially law firms.

A recent report from Chicago-based real estate services firm JLL found that law firms, on average, shed 17 percent of their space upon relocating in 2014 – up from 14 percent in 2013 – with many moving administrative functions off-site and, in some cases, adopting open-office floor plans that allow them to further reduce their real estate expenses.

While this trend has most commonly been associated with the legal sector, other industries have adopted a similar strategy as they seek to maximize efficiency and facilitate collaboration in the workplace.

Although each company’s circumstances are unique, most rightsizing moves are made for one of the following reasons:

1. They overleased (or underleased): When a business is just getting off the ground, it can be difficult to determine how much space to lease due in part to a lack of historical data. Therefore, companies need to find that sweet spot between too much and too little space, both of which could hamper growth. If a business rushes through the leasing process or simply doesn’t grow as planned, rightsizing allows them to correct the situation. Sometimes this means leasing more space, not less.

2. They want a more collaborative floor plan: Fully open floor plans can create challenges for any business, especially lawyers, accountants and other professionals that require a certain level of privacy for their day-to-day operations, but a growing number of businesses are warming to non-traditional office configurations that offer a mix of private and collaborative workspaces. This hybrid model offers the same benefits as an open coworking space without sacrificing employee privacy. Employers are able to reduce their square footage, and their rent, without having to group employees together in one giant room.

3. They want Class A space in a Class A location: As noted in the JLL report, law firms have historically gravitated to central business districts where clients, public transportation and other urban amenities are easily accessible. That may be changing as they and other employers seek out young talent in “fringe CBD” areas, but most businesses still want an office at Main and Main. Because space in the best buildings isn’t cheap, businesses may need to give up square footage so they can afford an office that, while smaller, is better suited to their needs.

4. They’ve gone digital: The adoption of cloud-based file storage has rendered most file cabinets and storage rooms obsolete, leaving tenants with excess space. Many established businesses have updated their technology, but that doesn’t always carry over to their lease. In some cases, businesses are paying for the amount of space they needed five or 10 years ago when, in reality, that number should be much lower.

While the circumstances for rightsizing vary, the outcome is the same. In the end, it all comes back to cost. By taking a close look at their operations, companies can take the guesswork out of leasing and ensure they’re paying only for the space they need, making it easier to rein in expenses over the long term.

Frank Chalupa is president and co-founder of Amata Office Solutions, a Chicago-based real estate provider specializing in office solutions for companies requiring up to 10,000 square feet of office space. For more information, visit www.amatacorp.com.
 

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<![CDATA[McDonald's Faces Complaints Over Worker Burns]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:09:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcds-protest-1.jpg

A small group of protesters gathered outside a McDonald's restaurant on Chicago's west side Tuesday morning to lobby for more training and protective equipment that would protect injury, primarily burns.

The demonstration inside and outside the restaurant, on the 3200 block of West Roosevelt Road, comes one day after employees around the nation filed 28 health and safety complaints against the Oak Brook-based company.

"We don't have any actual cream or Band-Aids or none of that, so if you get cut, that's it. Or if you get burned, mustard is the treatment," said employee Adriana Alvarez.

Protesters marched with signs in English and Spanish that read "McDonald's, Don't Burn Me" and others that alleged employees have been told to treat burns with condiments.

The complaints were filed with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The federal agency said it would investigate the allegations.

A statement from the McDonald's corporate office said the restaurant and its independent franchisees "are committed to providing safe working conditions for employees in the 14,000 McDonald’s Brand U.S. restaurants. We will review these allegations."

Spokeswoman Heide Barker Sa Shekhem added that the company believes the complaints are part of a larger strategy to tarnish the McDonald's brand.

The protest was organized by the group "Fight for 15," which has held a number of demonstrations around the country to push for a $15 per hour minimum wage.



Photo Credit: Susan Carlson]]>
<![CDATA[Dairy Queen Free Cone Day]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 10:41:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/dairyqueenfreeconedaymarch16.jpg

So many intriguing mysteries surround a certain longtime purveyor of cold treats that we hardly know where to begin our story.

1. Does Dairy Queen have an actual throne, castle, and courtiers who wear velvet breeches and play trumpets?

2. How does one get to be known far and wide by just their initials -- in Dairy Queen's case, the snappy and now-iconic "DQ" -- in a world flooded by attention-catching foodstuffs and restaurant choices?

3. What will the founded-in-Illinois company do for its big 75th, which falls in 2015?

We know the answer to that one, as do the people you'll see queuing up at participating Dairy Queens across the land on Monday, March 16. The frozen treat shop, founded in 1940 near Chicago, will celebrate by handing out soft-serve vanilla cones on Free Cone Day at all participating Dairy Queens.

There are more fun things to come during Dairy Queen's diamond anniversary year, but bet Free Cone Day will be mighty popular, especially around Southern California, where a March heat wave is putting ice cream lovers in an ice cream state of mind.

Oh, we jest; true ice cream lovers maintain a permanent second address in that state.

So is there a hashtag for all of this frosty fun? It wouldn't be #2015 if there wasn't: #conewithme is your go-to, social media enjoyers.

Is there a limit on how many cones you can pick up? Of course there is: You may have one. You'd cock an eyebrow at the person leaving with twenty free cones in front of you, wouldn't you? Fairness is best in all things, including Free Cone Day.

And one more mystery we'd like to solve while we're delving into all things DQ: How does the vanilla soft-serve cone get that perfect little twirl on the top? And how does one recreate that in a hairstyle? Asking, of course, for a friend.



Photo Credit: Dairy Queen]]>
<![CDATA[Cards Against Humanity Can Now Be Played Online]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 11:41:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/51RD-Lha01L._SL1023_.jpg

Oh the humanity! Cards Against Humanity has gone digital.

A new website called CardsAgainstOriginality.com offers a free version of the game on all web browsers on computers and mobile devices, though it wasn't made by the card game's original creators.

The Cards Against Originality app was created by Canadian designer Dawson Whitfield, who used the card game’s Creative Commons license to make a digital version.

Previously, users needed to either purchase the game for $25 from the Cards Against Humanity Website, or download and print their own deck for free (plus the cost of ink and paper). Fans can also purchase desired expansion packs on the game's website, and those cards are also featured in the new app.

"I built it because there were too many times that I wished I had brought my CAH deck. During lunch at work, at the bar, in the car," Whitfield said in an email. "Once I had the idea to build it, I had to build it out of frustration that no one had done it,"

According to Cards Against Humanity's website, the game's content can be used "to make whatever," but the game needs to be given credit and the user can't profit from using its content.

“Cards Against Humanity is available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. That means you can use, remix, and share the game for free, but you can’t sell it without our permission. Please do not steal our name or we will smash you,” the game’s website reads.

Cards Against Humanity, described as a “party game for horrible people,” involves a group of players using raunchy and often expletive-filled white cards to answer questions or fill in the blanks of a single black card. The funniest answer is then picked by a fellow player acting as the judge, or “Card Czar.”

Like with the physical deck, you must be in the same room as your friends to play together on the digital version.

Whitfield said the response to his app was better than he expected — the rush to play even created some problems for the new product.

"I didn't expect it to take off like this and my servers couldn't handle the traffic," he told NBCChicago in an email. "I had it on a measly server for my friends and I to play on, which crumbled under the traffic."

Whitefield said he has since moved the game to new servers and the site is back up and running, though it may take time for the change to appear "everywhere around the world." 

Now, with a new name and the same vulgar cards, the (horribly inappropriate) party can begin online. 

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<![CDATA[Jelly Belly Puts Wisconsin Warehouse Up for Sale]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 13:09:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jelly_bellys.jpg

With Easter just weeks away, Jelly Belly Candy Co. said it plans to sell their Wisconsin warehouse and move their operations to Tennessee.

The warehouse property located in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin has been listed for sale, a company spokesperson confirmed with NBC Chicago. The company plans to move their distribution operations to Tennessee, but said a timeline has not yet been set.

“Tours continue per usual and we have a full schedule of summer activities planned,” spokesperson Jana Sanders Perry said in a statement.

The 25 employees of the warehouse and several part-time workers were reportedly informed of the news Monday.

The company, formerly known as Goelitz Confectionary Company, was originally founded in 1869 in Belleville, Illinois. The facility in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin opened for tours in 2001.

The candy company most recently made headlines last August when it eliminated 70 jobs from its North Chicago factory and moved production to Fairfield, California. The facility continues to make candy, however, and is responsible for "contract manufacturing."

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<![CDATA[Target Lays Off 1,700, Eliminates 1,400 Vacant Positions]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 13:32:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Target+Logo.jpg

Target Corp. said Tuesday that it will lay off 1,700 workers and eliminate another 1,400 unfilled positions as part of a restructuring aimed at saving $2 billion over the next two years.

The news put a number on planned layoffs first announced last week as several thousand. The company said the cuts would fall primarily on headquarters locations in Minneapolis. The layoffs would amount to about 12.5 percent of the 13,500 workers there.

"Today is a very difficult day for the Target team, but we believe these are the right decisions for the company," Target said in a statement.

New chief executive Brian Cornell has said the company needs to become more nimble and innovative. His plan calls for spending up to $2.2 billion on capital expenditures in the current fiscal year. About half that would go toward technology as Target seeks to grow online sales in an era when more shoppers than ever are on mobile devices.

Earlier this year Target said it would end its foray into Canada, closing all 133 of its stores there and laying off about 17,000 workers.

The company is eliminating some jobs at a location in Bangalore, India, where Target has about 3,000 employees. But the concentration of layoffs in Minneapolis has spurred concern about the effect on the regional economy and even some fretting about the company's future. Gov. Mark Dayton met with Cornell on Monday and said he was assured Target would keep a strong corporate presence and its headquarters in Minnesota.

Target has said it plans to spend about $1 billion on technology in its current fiscal year. In the past it has spent more money on new stores and renovations, but the company wants to speed up its online sales growth. Target and other retailers have seen their customer traffic decrease as consumers do more of their shopping online instead of at physical stores.

In February Target cut its free-shipping minimum in half, saying users who orders merchandise worth $25 or more online won't have to pay for shipping. The move was intended to help Target keep pace with competitors like Amazon, Google and eBay. Customers can also have their orders shipped to Target stores for free. Earlier this month the company suggested it will look for other ways to get orders delivered to stores and customers faster.

Target said Tuesday that each employee being laid off would get at least 15 weeks of severance plus more based on years of service.

Target had 366,000 employees as of Feb. 1, 2014. That number does not reflect the layoffs in Canada and an updated figure was not immediately available.

Shares of Target lost 83 cents to $77.74 in midday trading. The stock is up 3.5 percent in 2015 and has climbed 28 percent over the last 12 months.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[In the Business of "Helping Business"]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 18:29:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000011290402_1200x675_407048259843.jpg Ryan Cutlip, VP of Helping Business at Restaurant.com, talks about discovering a business niche to help small- to medium-sized restaurants market to customers. As the nation's largest dining deals website, Restaurant.com uses an online platform - along with a mobile app for users on the go - to help restaurants bring in more customers and - help employers reward employees.]]> <![CDATA[Under Armour Debuts Flagship Store in Chicago]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 22:27:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/200*120/under+armour.jpg

Sports apparel maker Under Armour hopes to get Chicago’s blood pumping with a new location in the heart of the Mag Mile.

The Baltimore-based company opened its doors on 600 N. Michigan Ave. on Friday. It replaced Eddie Bauer LLC. The new ‘brand-house’ is Under Armour’s largest location in the world at 30,000 square feet, according to a release from the retailer.

The flagship store features two floors of fitness gear ranging from footwear to apparel and contains Under Armour’s first-ever ‘wearables bar,’ with fitness devices like Garmin and Pebble. The store also has sections devoted to hunting and fishing, another first for the company.

The store’s debut is a bit of a homecoming for Under Armour. The brand has existing partnerships with the Cubs, Northwestern University, and the University of Notre Dame.

Hours for Under Armour on Michigan Ave. are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
 



Photo Credit: NBCChicago]]>
<![CDATA[Imagine A Razor Blade That Will Never Dull]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:35:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bill_Weissman-02_1200x675_409360451822.jpg These are not your grandma's sapphires. Bill Weissman, CEO of Rubicon Technology, talks about the use of sapphire crystals in everyday applications, including LED lighting, camera lens covers, invisible dental braces, and touch capabilities on smartphones and tablets. As sapphire becomes more affordable, the future could include razor blades that never dull.]]>