While many small companies try unsuccessfully for years to nab large contracts, Power's human capital management and technology services company won a government assignment one month after it opened its doors in 2003, thanks to a personal contact, Powers said.
After 17 years of fits and starts, LeNardo Nelson Sr. of Chicago is ready to take his triple-sided windshield wiper to market.
A commercial lender at Harris Bank by day, Nelson has long dreamed of being an inventor like his father, who devised a sled with convertible wheels in the mid-1960s. But getting his wipers off the ground has taken far longer than Nelson ever imagined.
While many businesses remain cautious about expanding in a tough economy, entrepreneur Sandy Marsico is bucking the trend. She recently knocked down walls to expand her marketing and interactive design firm.
Elster started Crop To Cup coffee to help support family farmers in Uganda, while Heins' Bean & Body makes health-conscious coffee and tea beverages sold in cans. Both are hoping to jump on the locally produced food bandwagon to get products made by small Chicago-based companies noticed by corporate customers.
With momentum building for clean energy, Chicago entrepreneurs Elizabeth Iwanicki and Giovanni Bonomi say demand for their wind turbines is accelerating.
Once they seal deals with prospective customers in the United States and abroad, their start-up, Tempest Wind Energy Inc., plans to add workers and move to a larger manufacturing facility, they said. “We know we will get the orders. I want to bring this business to Chicago. The whole idea is to get employment here,” Iwanicki said.
AllCell, launched in 2001 with technology developed at Illinois Institute of Technology, offers a patented phase-change material technology that absorbs the heat generated from lithium batteries, making them safer and doubling their lifespan, Al-Hallaj said. The batteries are currently being used to power electric scooters and bikes, but soon will be in electric and plug-in hybrid automobiles and trucks, he said. The company has been selling to the military since 2008 and currently is working with top automakers, he said.
GreatPoint Energy takes coal, which Perlman calls “the dirtiest, cheapest and most abundant fuel,” and turns it into clean natural gas for all sorts of applications. Over time, the clean fuel will reduce global warming while improving health and quality of life in developing countries, Perlman said.
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