State treasurer Frerichs makes swing through southern Illinois

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs visited the area this week to highlight programs that allow workers to save for their own retirement and help small nonprofit groups provide services to disadvantaged people.

In Marion, Frerichs was joined by former Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon during a visit to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Illinois. The organization was awarded a $25,000 Charitable Trust grant a couple of years ago to help fund a college and career readiness program. Simon is a member of the Treasurer's Office Charitable Trust Committee, which awards money to help not-for-profit groups with budgets of less than $1 million a year.

Frerichs also visited the Herrin House of Hope, which provides hot meals to people who need one. The organization is finalizing its paperwork on a $20,000 Charitable Trust grant. The award will help the House of Hope cover the cost of meals. The non-profit also operates a food pantry, thrift store and GED program.

"It's a domino effect," Frerichs said of the Charitable Trust program. "I believe when you invest in people, people invest in themselves, and in turn we all benefit."

Another program spotlighted during the visit was Secure Choice, which provides workers with an easy way to save their own money for retirement and is simple and straightforward for employers to facilitate. Frerichs stopped by Larry's House of Cakes, a bakery that has sold donuts, cookies, brownies, pastries and cakes since 1963, with shops in Carbondale and Marion.

The bakery participates in Secure Choice, which enrolls participants in a Roth IRA with a default 5 percent payroll contribution. Participants can change their contribution level and fund mix at any time, or opt-out of the program. The keys: Accounts are owned by individual participants and are portable from job to job.

The treasurer also met with Southern Illinois University administrators, including system President Daniel Mahony and SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin Lane. Frerichs presented them with a pair of unclaimed property forms.

One was a $13,500 life insurance policy from an alum who died in 2015 that named the SIU Board of Trustees as the beneficiary. Another form compiled 40 smaller claims for SIU that totaled nearly $12,000. The university can sign the forms and provide documentation to get the money returned.

The treasurer's office Unclaimed Property program set a record for the year ending June 30, returning $280 million to taxpayers through more than 362,000 claims. An estimated one-in-four adults in Illinois who search find unclaimed property, with an average claim of $1,000.

In addition, Treasurer Frerichs toured the successful Bison Bluff Farm near Cobden, where Clifton Howell has been a bison farmer for a quarter century. The business has grown to more than 500 bison, who are grass fed and roam free on 1,100 acres.

The treasurer capped his visit by marching in the Du Quoin State Fair Twilight Parade.