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May 2011 Blog posts

Making the most of a clean(ish) river

Having gotten a bad weather forecast from the guy at my local bike shop, I spent a fair amount of time this past Sunday—however long it takes to ride a bike 40 miles during high winds, driving rain, and a foot of standing water in the street in a few places in Evanston—thinking about Cook County's sewers, effluent, and rivers. I tried to wait out the rain over lunch at a place in Winnetka, and though it just kept raining, I overheard a conversation that really summed up the hydro-situation I was watching out the window. A self-admittedly overweight guy was explaining to his friend that he was holding off on dieting until he could kick his habit of biting his nails, and his friend was trying to convince him how counter-productive and illogical that was, as the two problems,…

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Regional housing pilot could scale up ‘Solutions for Sustainable Communities’

Rendering of Oak Park’s recently approved Grove Apartments.

During May, when national colleagues such as the National Housing Conference's Center for Housing Policy, Brookings and Policylink are spotlighting the need for transportation and infrastructure policies that better promote equity and opportunity for lower income households, local leaders quietly stepped up their own efforts to spotlight one of Chicagoland’s many unique best practices. On May 16, seven public housing authorities joined the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, MPC, Workforce Investment Boards, and other key civic partners in urging U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan to “to implement the Chicago Regional Housing Choice Initiative, a regional ‘access to opportunity’ housing…

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What does the future hold for Chicago's retail landscape?

When I first came aboard as president of MPC in the mid-‘90s, the state of retail development in metropolitan Chicago was dramatically different than it is today. Mayor Daley and Chicago leaders – having successfully headed off doomsday predictions made about our city in the '80s – were focused on revitalization of Chicago’s central business district, including new shopping destinations along the new-old State Street. Meanwhile, exurban growth continued to explode and with it, “Big Box” retail. Retail superstores such as Home Depot, Target, and Walmart opened stores across the region, offering consumers the ultimate in one-stop shopping – and transforming suburbs with large lot developments and seas of parking. As communities worked hard to keep…

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Expanding employer-assisted housing through energy efficiency retrofits

Authored with Breann Gala, MPC Research Assistant More than 75 employers in Illinois have enjoyed success by offering employer-assisted housing (EAH) programs for their workers. Most participating employers include down payment/closing cost assistance to help eligible employees purchase a home close to work. EAH advantages for a company or institution include: offering a unique benefit, helping employees and their families become financially stable through pre-purchase budget and credit counseling, and setting program guidelines about where employees can purchase homes to support local community development goals. Now, both existing and new EAH employers will be able to expand their current program to include eligible employees who already own a home but need some help making it more…

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Coca-Cola turns syrup barrels into rain barrels at 5/21 birthday celebration in Niles

Photo courtesy of Coca-Cola Refreshments

Come out to Niles this Saturday, May 21, to receive a free rain barrel – and celebrate Coca-Cola's 125th birthday.

Dave Katz is Senior Vice President, Midwest Region, Coca-Cola Refreshments. On the heels of several rain-drenched weeks in the Chicagoland area, I’m sure many of you Chicagoans were wondering what life would have been like if you had a rain barrel to recycle that rain water to wash your car, or water your lawn and garden projects – saving you up to 40 percent on your water bill! Wait, you weren’t? Tsk, tsk. As most of us have heard by now, water is one of the most precious resources on the planet -- and as a key ingredient in every Coca-Cola beverage, it is essential to our operations. But even more so, water is critical to the well-being of the communities and ecosystems in which we work and live. At Coca-Cola, we are intensely focused on water stewardship and have…

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