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Accelerate Illinois: Your soymilk doesn’t just walk to the grocery store

Illinois Soybean Association.

Soybeans play an important role in Illinois’ economy, but they need a functional transportation system to get to market.

Illinois is the nation’s soybean capital, producing more of this important crop than any other state. In fact, in 2014 Illinois produced a record-breaking yield of 550 million bushels of soybeans—that’s a lot of animal feed and biodiesel! All that production means more than just jobs for farmers; the soybean industry creates jobs in transportation, processing, livestock, research and more—all supporting the Illinois economy. In and of themselves, soybeans contribute $5 billion to the gross state product each year. But in order to have any value, soybeans must have a reliable transportation system to move from the field to end consumers. After harvest, soybeans are transported by truck, mostly to in-state elevators or processing facilities. Approximately 44…

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The intertwining successes of economic and housing mobility

Holsten Chicago

This post has been submitted to New York Times in response to their article “An Atlas of Upward Mobility Shows Paths Out of Poverty." New research from the Equality of Opportunity Project, showing that moving young children to areas with better opportunities improves their economic standing as adults, resounded in metropolitan Chicago—a city and region with a complicated and troubling history of residential segregation. But it’s also home to the nation’s first housing desegregation and mobility program known as Gautreaux. For the past three years, the Chicago metropolitan area has been piloting a two-part initiative that holds great promise for areas defined by concentrated affluence and poverty, such as St. Louis and Baltimore. Regional housing authorities,…

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Learning and partying at one event: The Chicago River Day fest

Metropolitan Planning Council

Kayak rides, fishing lessons and chances to draw a vision for the rivers were a few of the family-friendly activities we offered participants.

Where would you be able to find kayakers, pedestrians, small children, environmentalists, bikers, fishers, food truck enthusiasts and beer lovers together in the same place at the same time? This past Saturday, May 9, that same group gathered to celebrate Chicago River Day on the old railroad bridge connecting Goose Island to North Avenue. Apart from the face painting, the music provided by Windy City Soul Club, the kayak demos, the fishing lessons and Goose Island beer offered at the event, party goers got the chance to express their ideas for improving the Chicago River through surveys, maps and imaginative doodling. Chicago River Day is an initiative of Friends of the Chicago River, and involves a day of volunteering and environmental advocacy at more than 60 locations along the…

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Chicago River Day 2015: Using play to engage

At MPC's party on a bridge on Saturday, May 9, kids drew their visions for the future of Chicago's rivers.

We have all been to community meetings that involve a city official listing off the nearly final plan for a corridor in your neighborhood or revealing the design for your local park. Not only are these meetings often aggravating, since participants feel left out of the process and unable to contribute meaningfully, but the meeting is designed so that people are usually talked at and then expected to get in line to ask questions into a microphone. At the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), we are constantly looking for ways to creatively engage people in the planning, design and development of our city and region. We use text polling to engage people that can’t make it to night or weekend meetings. We use building blocks and financial models in our Corridor Development Initiative…

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Illinois is facing a mounting infrastructure maintenance crisis, and we need more funding to address it

Flickr user Ian Abbott (cc)

In Illinois, our bridges—like this one on Wacker Drive—are in need of a little TLC.

It’s a problem apparent even to investors from abroad: Illinois’ infrastructure is falling apart, and we’re failing to fund its renovation. As a result, our state is struggling to attract new investment and our population is not growing nearly as quickly as those of our peers. The Accelerate Illinois campaign, a coalition of organizations including AARP, Regional Transportation Authority and others, is working to advance increased infrastructure investment in our state. New funding is necessary to bring our infrastructure back to a state of good repair. Funding collected from the state’s motor fuel taxes, for example, is more than a third lower than it was in the early 1990s when adjusted for inflation. Data provided by the Illinois Dept. of Transportation…

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Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
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Helping create competitive, equitable, and sustainable communities

For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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