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July 2010 Blog posts

Nurturing innovation in metro Chicago

Earlier this week, the Brookings Institution released Export Nation: How U.S. Metros Lead National Export Growth and Boost Competitiveness. The report – the first comprehensive analysis of U.S. goods and services exports produced in America’s 100 largest metropolitan areas – is a wake-up call to nurture export growth, so critical to U.S. economic recovery. Why? Foreign demand for U.S. products is growing faster than domestic demand, in part because the middle class is growing rapidly in Brazil, India and China. A strong correlation exists between export growth and domestic job creation. Export industry workers in the top 100 metro areas earn roughly one to two percent higher wages for every $1 billion dollar increase in their industries’ exports – even…

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Oil, oil, toil and trouble, pipes burst and rivers bubble

www.sciencedaily.com

Oil and water still don't mix.

Several people have asked me whether the Enbridge oil spill along a tributary of Michigan's Kalamazoo River (which leads to Lake Michigan, our region's primary water source) is likely to affect Chicagoland's water supply. Fortunately for us, it appears that the answer is 'probably not.' The spill was contained quickly, and clean-up efforts are under way. Of course, while our water supply is most likely safe, there has been considerable damage along Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River, and that's where our initial focus needs to be. The U.S. EPA is leading the response, posting updates of its efforts, and holding regular update calls for stakeholders. Contact kelley.jeff@epa.gov if you'd like to be on those calls. Many volunteer groups need everything from sheets to vegetable oil…

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Ever wonder how Chicago’s water system works?

This blog post was written by MPC research assistant Alex Gilbert. An educational video from the Field Museum explains exactly that. The video Before the Faucet, After the Flush provides a basic understanding of how we obtain our water, treat it, transport it, clean it, and dispose of it. This piece features both the world’s largest conventional water treatment plant, the James W. Jardine Plant, and the world’s largest wastewater treatment plant, the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant. These two superlatives highlight the massive scale of Chicago’s water infrastructure, an infrastructure the public rarely sees. While most people’s interactions with water do not go beyond the faucet, massive systems are needed to provide water to the 5.5 million people served.…

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The future of urban transit

"Next bus" signs in Berlin, Germany

Considering that approximately 65 percent of Chicago public transit users ride buses, it’s clear that improving the quality of bus service will retain existing and attract new people to public transit. As a regular bus rider myself, I know how much my commute – and, by extension, my daily life – improved with the advent of CTA Bus Tracker. Before the days of bus tracker, I remember bearing the elements (for what seemed like a lifetime!), waiting for a bus to arrive at my stop. Now I not only know whether I’ll catch a bus in time to get to work, but I can wait in a safe, comfortable place and build in a few minutes to pick up the daily paper before my bus arrives. So I welcome the news that the city of Chicago recently received a $35 million federal grant to…

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Today's the last day to enter the "What Makes Your Place Great?" contest

Photo by vathiman via Flickr

Today is the final day to enter the Metropolitan Planning Council-Chicago Architecture Foundation’s “What Makes Your Place Great? Your Secret Corner of Chicagoland” contest. We’ve already received so many great submissions, from northwest Indiana to the north suburbs of Chicago, and we hope to receive even more before the 5 p.m. deadline. Though I can’t legally enter the contest, I’m sharing my favorite place, in hopes of inspiring you to enter the contest today. The Shakespeare Garden, just off Sheridan Road near Haven Street, on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., has been one of my favorite hidden public places since I was a Wildcat undergrad. The garden was designed by renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen – but…

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