April Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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April Media Tips


MPC Encouraged by Thoughtful Planning in City’s Wireless Broadband Initiative

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is urging Chicagoans to take an active role in helping guide the city of Chicago ’s effort to expand its wireless broadband network to all neighborhoods. In early May, the City plans to post on its Web site a draft request for proposal (RFP), allowing the public time to comment on the draft before a final RFP is released in late spring, soliciting bids from private companies for the financing, installation and management of the network.

“MPC is encouraged the city is providing the public with the chance to help shape the effort to expand Chicago’s wireless broadband network,” said MPC Vice President of Policy and Planning Scott Goldstein, who serves on the city’s wireless task force. “Chicago’s commitment to expanding wireless broadband delivery recognizes high-speed digital infrastructure is a must for today’s businesses and residents, too. We urge Chicagoans to comment on the city’s draft RFP to create a network that meets everyone’s needs, including those in underserved areas.”

The city’s effort comes two years after MPC issued “From Broad Shoulders to Broadband,” a study that demonstrated many neighborhoods lack high-speed infrastructure (3 megabits and higher). Yet broadband technology is needed to allow businesses of all types and sizes to sustain their operations and maintain Chicago’s competitiveness with cities such as Philadelphia, San Francisco and Milwaukee, all of which are building public wireless networks.

The city’s draft RFP will be available soon at www.cityofchicago.org/wirelessrfp, and the public may send feedback on the draft to wirelessrfp@cityofchicago.org .

MPC contact: Scott Goldstein, Vice President of Policy and Planning, Metropolitan Planning Council, 312.863.6003, sgoldstein@metroplanning.org

Let’s Plan for Public-Private Partnerships Before We Spend ‘Monopoly Money’

If the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) had a mantra, it might be “Plan before you spend.” The maxim certainly applies to a debate bubbling up among state leaders and on editorial pages as to whether or not the State of Illinois should lease its tollway system – and, if so, how it should spend the theoretical windfall after any deal is sealed.

“MPC believes Illinois leaders are right to explore the terrific potential of public-private partnerships to help fund transportation infrastructure improvements,” said MPC Vice President of External Relations Peter Skosey. “However, until the state enacts well-thought-out legislation lifting Illinois’ current ban on public-private partnerships, engaging in talks about specific dollar amounts is like playing with Monopoly money. The focus right now needs to be on lifting the ban on public-private partnerships and creating parameters to guide future implementation.”

Skosey added that the financially strapped state does not have the resources it needs to maintain Illinois’ current transportation network, much less expand it, a situation that threatens to weaken our economic competitiveness if left unaddressed. In conjunction with the passage of a much-needed new state capital investment package – one that is well-planned, well-funded, and balanced – public-private partnerships could help deliver quality multi-modal transportation infrastructure statewide, allowing Illinois to keep business moving forward.

That was the message sent in February 2006 by Business Leaders for Transportation, a coalition of Chicago-area employers advocating for transportation planning and funding, co-led by MPC, Chicago Metropolis 2020, and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Business Leaders released “Making the Case for Public-Private Partnerships in Illinois,” setting the stage for the introduction of legislation allowing the state to enter into public-private partnerships. To read the report, visit www.businessleadersfortransportation.org.

MPC contact: Peter Skosey , Vice President of External Relations, 312.863.6004, pskosey@metroplanning.org
Contact: Thomas H. Morsch, Jr., Senior Vice President, Marsh, Inc., 312.627.6352, thomas.morsch@marsh.com

Two Key Housing Bills Pass Illinois General Assembly, Head to Governor’s Office

There may be little wiggle room in the state’s 2006 budget, but housing advocates, including the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), continue to pursue policy advances to help get quality homes affordable to Illinois’ working families built near jobs and transportation. During the 94 th General Assembly, MPC pushed for passage of the Comprehensive Housing Planning Act (SB 2290) and the Business Location Efficiency Incentive Act (SB 2885 – also known as “Location Matters”). Both bills passed the state Senate and House and are on their way to the governor.

“Throughout Illinois, working families are among those struggling to find homes they can afford in desirable communities,” said Robin Snyderman, MPC housing director. “Business, municipal and community leaders are calling for tools and policies that support affordable and workforce housing so that employees can live near their jobs, and these bills are answers to those calls.”

The Comprehensive Housing Planning Act transforms Illinois' first housing policy, created in 2003 by executive order of Gov. Blagojevich, into a law that will continue momentum to preserve and create more affordable, workforce housing by linking state spending in key areas, such a economic development, transportation, and human services. "Location Matters" is just one example of how the Comprehensive Housing Planning Act will align state spending to promote the availability of quality, affordable homes near jobs, in this case offering incentives for employers to consider and invest in housing options for the local workforce.

For more information on employer investments in workforce housing, visit www.reachillinois.org. For background on these bills and other efforts to expand housing options in Illinois, visit MPC's Web site, www.metroplanning.org/articleDetail.asp?objectID=3220.

MPC contact: MarySue Barrett, President, 312.863.6001, msbarrett@metroplanning.org
Contact: Man Yee Lee, IHDA Communications Manager, 312.836.5234, manyeel@ihda.org
Contact: King Harris, Senior Executive, Chicago Metropolis 2020, 312.332.2020, kharris@hhicap.com


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