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You can be too old to become an entrepreneur, says president James E. Challenger of Chicago's Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Based on his surveys of discharged corporate managers, he says, "There are two basic requirements for entrepreneurial success: the person has to be under 50 years of age in order to be mentally and physically able to withstand the rigors of starting a business; and he or she needs previous sales experience, because no business succeeds without sales."

The Thompson treadmill. "There have been considerable efforts to bring more businesses to Illinois, with some well-publicized successes," writes Marianne Ferber in the University of Illinois' 1987 Illinois Economic Outlook. "But . . . many states have been and are making comparable efforts, so that the main result may be that businesses are being offered better terms, rather than any one state getting very much ahead of the others."

Too much head banging. According to a unique 1960-1982 personality study by two University of Illinois at Chicago psychologists, children identified as especially aggressive in third grade proved to have lower IQ scores at age 30 than they had had at age eight.

"If military spending had been under control, Chicago and other cities wouldn't have to be raising taxes" to make up for federal cutbacks, says Alderman Martin Oberman, honorary chairman of the Test Ban Now (advisory) Referendum Committee. In addition to the mayoral sideshow, Chicagoans will get to vote April 7 on whether the U.S. and USSR should stop all nuclear weapons testing.

Where are the narcs when we need them? Not at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to a February 1987 Public Citizen report. Nuclear power plants don't have to report drug or alcohol abuse incidents to the NRC, but even so the agency heard of six times as many such incidents in 1985 as it had in 1980. The same administration that will be sniffing the urine of government paper shufflers has turned responsibility for nuclear druggies over to the industry's own Institute for Nuclear Power Operations, whose records are not public.

"Last period studies are animal houses," says Mario Johnson, a junior at Robeson High School. "The teacher is hardly ever there, and there is too much noise to do any studying." He and other students interviewed in New Expression (February 1987) don't think much of the fuss stirred up by the Chicago Panel on Public Schools' report on "phantom" study halls. Under current conditions, they say they're better off leaving the building.

Why is Stewart-Warner disinvesting? The Coalition to Keep Stewart-Warner Open would like to know. The Neighborhood Works (March 1987) reports that the last major blue-collar employer on the northwest side (2,000 jobs) is investing less and paying out more dividends than comparable companies -- often signs of a firm being deliberately run into the ground. A financial analysis by William Howard of the University of Illinois' Center for Urban Economic Development reveals that S-W's capital expenditures have been less than 2 percent of sales every year, 1981-1985, while two comparable firms have spent between 2.5 and 8 percent. At the same time, in 1982, 1983, and 1984, the company paid out more in dividends than it took in as net profits. Will the firm eventually be closed as "uncompetitive" because of these practices?

"Night [law school] classes seemed . . . easier and more relaxed," reports Student Lawyer's Sandy Goldsmith (February 1987). Not everyone agrees, but Gist Fleshman (DePaul J.D., 1985), who attended both day and night classes, told SL, "Teachers in the day classes would walk out if they called on a few students in a row who weren't prepared. I never saw that at night."

Press releases we didn't finish, from the Illinois Hospital Association: "Illinois Hospitals at Cutting Edge of Cancer Treatment."

"No one is sure just how many people are homeless in DuPage County," writes Valerie J. Phillips in the Chicago Reporter (March 1987), but there are some. The Du Page Emergency Shelter in Lombard housed 226 people during 1985 and 145 in the first half of 1986. Anyway, a place to stay may be only the second priority for marginal Du Pagers. Says shelter director Barbara Brent, "The last thing in this county you want to get rid of is your car."

"More than 50 percent of our country's solar industry was destroyed in this past year" by the end of federal residential tax credits, writes Illinois Solar Energy Association vice president Rick Lewandowski in the ISEA newsletter Heliographs (Winter 1987). The silver lining is that surviving companies "not operating under the pressures of production or installation schedules . . . now have time to look at problem areas where modification or re-design is desirable," so as to be ready for the end of the oil glut.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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