MPC's 2012 Annual Luncheon, The Cities That Work, is Wednesday, July 25, in Chicago. The mayors of Chicago, Gary, Ind., and Milwaukee, Wis., have been invited to share their strategies for reviving each city's economy, and explore the potential of coordinating on a mega-regional scale.

MPC's 2012 Annual Luncheon, The Cities That Work, is Wednesday, July 25, in Chicago. The mayors of Chicago, Gary and Milwaukee have been invited to share their strategies for reviving each city's economy, and explore the potential of coordinating on a mega-regional scale.

Where We Stand

Photo courtesy NASA

Mega-regions, crossing municipal and state boundaries, are leading the nations’ economic recovery by “driving innovation in practice, in policy, and in global trade links,” according to Bruce Katz, vice president and director of the Brooking’s Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, Global Cities Initiative.
MPC agrees the nation is driven by a network of regions with complex infrastructure, politics and constituencies that require leadership, vision – and an immense amount of work. The question is, if collaboration is the new competition, how can cities in our own mega-region work together to compete in the global marketplace? Chicago, Gary and Milwaukee each have distinct strengths and challenges, but these Midwestern cities also share mutual assets, such as Lake Michigan, a tri-state workforce, interdependent economic sectors, and a complex transportation network. At MPC’s Annual Luncheon, Mayors Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, and Tom Barrett of Milwaukee have been invited to discuss key priorities that can improve the entire region’s prosperity and resiliency.
MPC also will present two awards at the luncheon: The Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning, accompanied by a $5,000 prize sponsored by PNC Bank, will recognize the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) for the creation and implementation of GO TO 2040. For his outstanding contributions to the Chicago region, Frank Clark, retired CEO of ComEd, will receive the Jean Allard Regional Trailblazer Award, named in honor of MPC’s immediate past president Jean Allard, who passed away in January 2012.
PNC Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2012 MPC Annual Luncheon and sponsor of the 2012 Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning. Allstate Insurance Company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Harris Family Foundation, The Crown Family, and Walgreens are Co-Chair Sponsors of the luncheon, each contributing $25,000. Benefactors of the event are ComEd, McDonald’s Corporation, Northern Trust, the Regional Railroads (BNSF, CSX, and UP), and Wintrust Commercial Bank, each contributing $10,000.

Project Progress Report

Commute Options

Michael Chapman, e-Marketing Manager at Labelmaster, lives in Lincoln Park. Even though that is only a seven mile distance from his office in Chicago's North Park area, it used to take him 45 minutes to get to work in the morning because of signal timing and congestion on Lincoln Avenue. Depending on construction or when the Cubs were playing, getting home in the evening took over an hour. Now with Labelmaster’s palette of commute options, including its bike program, Chapman is able to get to and from work daily while avoiding severe traffic that engulfs the area.
Through MPC’s Commute Options pilot, 15 employers in northeastern Illinois, including Labelmaster, are taking action to improve their employees’ commutes. A year into the pilot, early signs suggest both workers and their employers would benefit from permanent commute options incentives.
Others companies exploring ways to help their employees save time and money, reduce stress, increase productivity, and achieve corporate sustainability goals are:

  • Webb deVlam, a Chicago company making facilities improvements available to workers who bike to work;
  • Newell Rubbermaid, based in Oak Brook, which is working with its 300 employees to ease their commutes by providing shuttles that connect the office to public transit, along with other options; and
  • McDonald’s Corporation*, which has conducted a survey to find out how its employees get to work and how best to alleviate parking problems and transit accessibility on its Oak Brook campus.

A long-term goal is to establish a one-stop source of commuting information and options for Chicago-area residents. Due to the success of the Commute Options pilot in 2011, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has funded MPC to extend it for another year, to continue to increase transit use among area commuters. Together with local government and businesses, MPC looks forward to learning from another year of the Commute Options pilot, helping Chicago-area residents find alternatives to the solo commute by car.
* used with permission from McDonald’s Corporation

  • Read an update on year one of the Commute Options pilot on The Connector, MPC’s blog.
  • Check out how one Commute Options employer Labelmaster is encouraging its employees to trade driving for riding to work – on their bikes
  • Read RTA’s media release on its vote to fund Commute Options for a second year

Principles of Placemaking

Announcing the Space in Between contest

Watch the Video
This week marks the official start of MPC’s fourth annual Placemaking contest. This year’s theme “Space in Between” seeks the most creative and interactive temporary uses of vacant space in metropolitan Chicago, Northwest Indiana, and southeastern Wisconsin.
Why temporary? In recent years, more and more vacant buildings and spaces have popped up in communities across the region. Particularly in neighborhoods that bore the brunt of the recession, achieving the ideal redevelopment may take a while. “The ‘Space in Between’ contest re-focuses our energy, creativity (and nominal funds) on the great potential for meaningful places to exist in the transition between a vacant space’s current state and its ideal, finished state,” said Marisa Novara, MPC Placemaking project manager. “This contest is about the ‘here and now,’ not the ‘maybe someday.’”
Have you worked with your community to infuse life into a vacant place? Between now and Aug. 31, at, submit a photo or video of your place and a short (250 words or less) description of how you creatively transformed a vacant space into a community asset – a place where people come to congregate, celebrate or create.

MPC Headlines

Housing + Community Development

Public Transportation + Infrastructure


Upcoming Events

Annual Luncheon: The Cities That Work
July 25, 2012
Noon to 2 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Chicago
Regency Ballroom
West Tower
151 East Wacker Drive

See MPC's calendar for more events.

News of Interest 

U.S. must fund transportation infrastructure
San Francisco Chronicle, June 22 2012

Northern Illinois straddles drought conditions
Chicago Tribune, June 22 2012

New Illinois law means state retirees have to pay health insurance premiums
Chicago Sun-Times, June 21 2012

U.S. lawmakers voice optimism on transportation bill talks
Chicago Tribune, June 21 2012

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