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January 2012 Blog posts

Separation anxiety, Part 4

I'm of the opinion that something of historical significance happened today, and that years from now the Chicago region, Great Lakes community, and Mississippi River basin will look back Jan. 31, 2012, as a turning point toward something fundamentally new. Today, after close to two years of painstaking research, lots of trial and error, and an incredibly sincere and dedicated effort to educate and solicit input from a very diverse group of stakeholders (of which I was one, see reflections on our first, second and third meetings), the Great Lakes Commission and Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative released Restoring the Natural Divide: Separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins in the Chicago Area Waterway System. It is a bold and visionary statement of what is…

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Eight federal agencies meet to align work in Northwest Indiana

Today at the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Region V office in Chicago, a critically important peg was put in place to support a coordinated reinvestment strategy for Gary and Northwest Indiana’s urban core. Regional administrators and staff from eight different federal departments (HUD, U.S. Dept. of Labor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S. Dept. of Justice, U.S Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Dept. of Transportation) convened to hear about priority plans and initiatives, share where they are already working, and discuss how they can work collaboratively to forward transformative projects in Northwest Indiana. The federal agencies were joined by Mayor of Gary, Ind. Karen…

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Census points to dramatic regional shifts

2010 Census data reveals dramatic shifts in Northwest Indiana and Northeastern Illinois’ population over the last decade. While much of the news coverage about the 2010 Census data has focused on the political ramifications of population changes, this new portrait of the region has a host of policy implications as well, from the need for workforce housing to impacts on traffic congestion. Over the next several weeks, MPC will offer snapshots of these regional shifts and analysis of how they will affect our work. Today’s post assesses how population changes in Northwest Indiana are informing regional redevelopment efforts. 2010 Census will provide critical data, paint 'America's portrait', by Mandy Burrell Booth MPC staff, volunteers explore how region’s shifting…

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Vacant properties blog series: Communities working together to tackle daunting foreclosure challenges

Photo by get directly down via Flickr

Throughout January and February, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is curating a blog series on vacant properties in metropolitan Chicago. In the coming weeks, MPC's blog, The Connector — as well as the web sites of some of our partners — will feature posts from elected and appointed officials, policy advocates, finance experts, and others about the many ways we are all working together to get a handle on this growing regional and national housing and community development challenge. The opinions expressed in these posts do not necessarily reflect MPC's opinion. Follow the series at Since the housing crisis began in 2008, two areas of suburban Chicago have been hit particularly hard by the resulting wave of foreclosures. The…

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Congress for the New Urbanism leads charge to jump-start economic activity with Live/Work/Walk Initiative

Photo by Ben Schulman

Congress for the New Urbanism's CEO & President John Norquist explains CNU's latest initiative, Live/Work/Walk: Removing Obstacles to Reinvestment.

"It all started with the best of intentions." So began John Norquist's - the CEO & President of the Congress for the New Urbanism - presentation last week on CNU's latest initiative, "Live/Work/Walk: Removing Obstacles to Investment." Hosted by design firm a5 in their downtown Chicago office, and co-sponsored by their GreenTown conference, the kick-off event for the initiative attracted a packed crowd to listen to Norquist and Center for Neighborhood Technology President (and CNU Board Member) Scott Bernstein discuss how current federal housing financing restrictions obstruct investment in and development of mixed-use properties and districts. With demographic trends increasingly expressing a desire for such communities, Norquist and Bernstein illustrated how these regulations act…

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The Connector is MPC's blog, written primarily by MPC staff members, with occasional guest posts from volunteers and partners. 


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