$2.5 million of federal stimulus money went to an energy firm in the Chicago area that used the grant to build a new heating system for the headquarters of Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, located in Chicago’s southwest suburbs.
[caption id="attachment_158785" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) with Indie Energy Systems Co., LLC, Aug. 18, 2010"]
The company, Indie Energy Systems Co., LLC, is located in Evanston, IL. According to Crain’s Chicago Business
, it was previously a “stealth” company, relying on loans from ShoreBank and other investors to stay afloat. The $2.5 million stimulus grant brought Indie Energy out of the shadows, and into the world of big government. The money for the new heating system at the union HQ created “13.78” jobs, according to Recovery.gov
, at an average cost of $181,422 per job--though it was supposed to “create and preserve 51 jobs,” according to the official description of the project.
The International Union of Operating Engineers is the biggest contributor
to the re-election campaign of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), giving the Political Action Committee maximum of $10,000 for the 2010 primary and general elections. Interestingly, the union gave
its contribution in March 2009, shortly after the stimulus was passed last February. That suggests a quid-pro-quo could have occurred, with Indie Energy used as the conduit.
[UPDATE: Local 150 makes its political contribution decisions independently of the national organization’s Political Action Committee, to which Local 150 also contributes.]
Yesterday, Schakowsky visited another Indie Energy project, this one located on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University. She touted
the company as “an innovative small business that can help grow our country's evolving clean energy economy.” She neglected to mention its connection to the union heating project, its links to ShoreBank, or its heavy reliance on federal stimulus funds. Nor did she explain how the benefit of $2.5 million in federal funds found its way to her biggest contributor.
Small, high-tech startup businesses like Indie Energy are precisely the kind of enterprises that need to grow and succeed in order to drive innovation and job creation. Yet if they remain dependent on big government largesse, they will fail--and so will our economic recovery.