Summer Auto Happenings in the Hood

Chicago has been bombarded with car events recently and there are more to come.  In just three days’ time, check out Woodstock’s Meet and Car Show.  Skip’s Fiesta is hosting this event at Country Club Road at County Fairgrounds between 8 am and 3pm. Or you can choose (on the same day) this year’s eighth annual Chicagoland All Wheel Show North in Mundelein.  The event doubles as a fundraiser for Mundelein’s Old No. 1, 1925 fire truck restoration fund. The event is held from 10am to 12pm with the award ceremony at 3.45.  participants will be able to check out 25 different types of cars, motorcycles and trucks.

On July 29 at Heritage Park, there is the Classic Car Show and Touch-a-Truck event at W. Dundee Road featuring, cars, trucks and music with NBC The Voice’s very own Keith Semple. Registration here.

And the following day is the Algonquin Founders’ Day Cruise in Algonquin presented by BGV Motorsports and the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce. A fundraiser for the Chamber’s Scholarship Fund, all automobiles are welcome and for everyone else there will be music, vendors, food and a way to support downtown business.  Check out BGVMotorsports.com

This is just a snippet of the car-related stuff going on in Chicago over the summer.

 

Chicago Assisting Female Entrepreneurs

The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) recent opened a branch in the south suburbs, offering assistance to women who want to become entrepreneurs in the region.

Already – for over 30 years – this non-profit (based in Chicago) has been giving women (free) advice, programs, and services in order to bolster the amount of enterprises owned by women. Earlier this year, a small business development center satellite office was opened at Governors State University in University Park, by the organization. This was most welcome given the budgetary cuts which resulted in the closure of the Illinois Small Business Development Center.

Now though — thanks to a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the U.S. Small Business Administration – the WBDC is opened for business!

 

Chicago and Wage Increases

Chicago will now be subject to obligatory minimum wage increases. Following a new law that went into place at the beginning of this month, within the city, a 50 percent increase will result in minimum wage being $11 per hour. This is noteworthy since it is the third such increase that has taken place since December 2014. For tipped workers it has increased to $6.10 per hour – an inflation-rendered increase set up earlier this year.

Minimum wages in Chicago will increase at a rate of $1 per hour (next year and the year after), to get to the highest $13 level per hour in 2020. Thereafter wage increases will be determined by inflation.

Furthermore, Cook County employers will be forced to give their workers sick pay (and a carry over of unused days to the next year), since right now 40% of workers in the area are not eligible for this benefit.

Second Chance Job Fair

Triton College recently put together its Second Chance Job Fair that was attended by 70 employers and 150 applicants.  The aim of this event was to literally, give people a second chance in building a solid future for themselves.  The reason the college hosted the job fair, was, according to Director of Career Services at Triton Rich Williams, because they “saw a real need for this type of job fair. There are a lot of people who are facing some tough barriers in terms of finding employment. At the same time, there are a lot of employers who want to help. We’re linking the two.”

This kind of fair is so important given the current economic climate.  Very few people are able to get a second chance; but this is the perfect opportunity for it.  And it’s great for employees as PeopleReady employment agency rep Diego Irizarry said that they are often looking for “diverse candidates to meet the staffing needs of local businesses.”

This represents a real networking opportunity for the community and the college, filling a gap that is often remained empty.   And Triton College is perfect as it understands how important it is to connect jobs/careers with education.  And some jobs are even designed for such “second chance employees.”

So take a leaf out of Chicago’s book and start training those who need it and for those companies, find those seeking employment who really want to work and keep getting pushed back.

Taste of Chicago

From July 5 to 9, Taste of Chicago (featuring 67 local food vendors) will take place at Grant Park.  While this is 2 less of the 2016 event, there are various new vendors including: Lawrence’s Fish & Shrimp and El Patron.

This year – for the first time – Taste of Chicago is collaborating with Humana (an insurance company).  The main goal of this partnership is to be able to provide vendors with the option of offering healthier foods, as opposed to the traditional heavy-calorific items.

This year there are six new food trucks at the festival also which is somewhat political since many owners of these trucks have taken up issue with the restaurant association and the city authorities feeling that they are being forced out of Chicago.

Advancing Affordable Housing in Chicago

Earlier this month there was significant advancement in the plan to develop affordable housing units in the same building as Chicago’s public libraries with the Mayor’s announcement as to which architects and developers won the bid for the project.  The Irving Park, Little Italy and West Rogers Park facilities will all have access to ground floor libraries which will give community members and tenants services such as: early childhood learning programs, homework assistance, and teen digital tools among others.

The project first began in October of last year. A collaborative effort was developed by the Chicago Housing Authority in conjunction with the Chicago Public Library.  The designs will – according to a statement – “break from the standard, cookie-cutter designs that are common to government buildings.”

In a report put out by the National Low Income Housing Coalition earlier this year Chicago was ranked at Number 37 for affordable housing availability.  Hopefully it’ll go up on the list with these upcoming projects.

Business Expansions in Chicago

There have been various movements with expansions, buyouts, M&As, etc. in the last few weeks in Chicago. Here we take a brief look at three of them: Trustwave, Amita Health and Periscope.

Trustwave – the firm that works in the cybersecurity industry – is about to hire around 100 new people for its Chicago office. In addition, an announcement was made about the upcoming internship program being developed alongside the City Colleges of Chicago. And this is just the start; by the end of 2017 Robert McCullen, company CEO anticipates a further 300 people to join the company headquarters in Chicago once construction is finished and the space is ready for this expansion. With around 400 employees in Chicago currently (and 1,700 globally) this is really a doubling of Chicago staff members.

Amita Health – Chicago’s third largest hospital system – is interested in putting up two medical office buildings (with a joint $55.3 million price tag) right near rival ones. This is at the same time that hospital systems throughout America are seeking to bolster the way they attract additional patients. One of the new facilities will be in Bartlett and the other in Woodridge and they would be the largest of the company’s nine hospitals.

And then there is Periscope – based in Minneapolis – is expanding to Chicago. One of America’s five biggest independent creative networks purchased Anthem Marketing Solutions, the Chicago-headquartered analytics and strategy firm. Anthem has been in the business for two decades already and focuses on both (diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive) analytics and (database marketing and consumer journey) mapping services. This new office in Chicago will become the fifth for Periscope. As company CEO Elizabeth Ross explained the company really is hoping to “help [its] clients spend less on paid media and the best way to do that is to expand analytics and prove you can deliver results through channels and methods that are less reliant on [traditional ad buys].”

The Price of Education

When education becomes so expensive for many of those working hard to make it happen, one has to start to wonder where society is headed.  Right now, Chicago seems to be encountering this.  The city has approached the Chicago Board of Education to borrow $389 million just to keep schools open until the end of the school year, while making the necessary deposits into teachers’ pension funds.

This price tag seems rather large.  Especially when you look at the fact that – to implement it – the Education Board itself will need to borrow against the money it owes in state grants to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) – all $467 million of it.

But then you take a look at the activities of the CPS in the tech sphere.  Being America’s third largest school district in the US (with over 380,000 students) has turned it into one of the most highly reputable, at least when it comes to advanced technology.  One example of this is Newton Bateman that has implemented the Google drill. Teachers and administrators at the school have been enlisted to Googlefy the classroom, promoting Google’s products, ultimately having students make regular use of Google Docs, Gmail, Chromebooks and more.

So while the city’s schools might on the one hand be in financial distress, if they continue classroom Googlification, they potentially could be well on their way to bolstering their image.

Parks and Recreation

A serious renovation has just begun at Humboldt Park. Piet Oudolf – who was behind the very successful upgrade of Millennium Park’s Lurie Garden – was chosen by the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Park Foundation and the Garden Conservancy to lead the Jens Jensen Formal Garden restoration project.  This will involve an overhaul of the decaying infrastructure and a re-invigoration of the design features, paralleling Jensen’s infamous Prairie style. Part of what Oudolf will incorporate is a “durable” design, containing Chicago’s seasons. The Hitchcock Design Group has been commissioned as design coordinator, so that the end result will be the creation of a “community of plants that work well together and look beautiful throughout the seasons.”

For those who want to enjoy the fun parts of Chicago’s parks, the summer is the perfect time to start.  Earlier this month saw the start of Night Out in the Parks, marking Ellis Park’s fifth summer season of performances and interactive shows.  Featuring around 1,200 events, there will be something for each of Chicago’s 77 community areas.  And within the bounds of community spirit, 125 local artists and art organizations will be participating in these shows, most of which are free.

Meanwhile, to mark its 90th birthday, representatives from the Chicago Park District were at Grant Park turning on the Buckingham Fountain.  Participating in the celebratory event were both the Brookfield Zoo and the Shedd Aquarium.  In addition, those who want to memorialize the 90th birthday forever, can purchase a 1,000 pound chunk of marble for a mere $22,000….plus $299 shipping! Get in touch with Stuart Grannen of Architectural Artifacts for more details.