Category Archives: sightseeing

Using Challenges to Jumpstart Careers

Why do people love to push themselves?  Over the years – pretty much since the end of the caveman days – people have traditionally tried to push themselves out of their comfort zones.  Apart from it being a healthy way to gain strength and stay in shape, mentally, stepping out of one’s comfort zone has been a proven tactic of bettering all skills.

According to an article in Business Insider written last year, the benefits of pushing oneself are beneficial to one’s career. Sammi Carmela listed four reasons why:

  1. Confidence booster
  2. Perception by others enhanced
  3. Experience
  4. Broadening of horizons

We sent two members of our staff to the Ultimate Ninjas Chicago a few months ago. Last week we interviewed them both on the impact they felt it had on their careers.  Here is the transcript of the interview our editor conducted with photographer Mozes Victor Konig.

Editor:  Mozes, why did you initially agree to take part in the Ultimate Ninjas Chicago?  Have you ever done anything like this before?
Mozes: Actually my job sometimes requires me to enter into situations that are out of my comfort zone.  But when I’m on a job I feel I do not have a choice.  In my regular day-to-day life, if I can avoid such situations then I will.  As my boys are getting older they increasingly pressure me to do things like this. That’s why I thought it would be a good idea.
Editor:  Do you not feel like it benefited your career?
Mozes: On the contrary!  Because I pushed myself for a leisure activity, it gave me much more confidence for when I am faced with something like this at work.  Usually when photographing in an event – if I get stuck in a tight spot – I feel like I’m having a panic attack.  Just last week I was asked to take shots at Six Flags and I really enjoyed it.  Usually I wouldn’t have a good time at all; I would just get on with it.
Editor: Would you say that getting out of your comfort zone in a fun way has helped you at work?
Mozes: Absolutely.  And I would advise others to do the same.  If you do something for fun and make a decision ahead of time to enjoy it, it can be so much more awesome than just being forced to do it.  Plus, when you enjoy what you’re doing on the job, you’re going to much more successful.  You should have seen some of the shots I took!
Editor: Thank you for your time Mozes.  We look forward to seeing your great work in the future.

The good thing about the Sacramento Ninja Warrior Obstacle Park is that while it comprises 7 obstacles, it enables participants to go at their own time, on their own terms and within their own levels. This is already helpful for confidence bolstering that is such a huge part of career advancement.

Advancements in Local Job Creation

Finger Licking’s menu features a $22.99 lobster meal

Whenever there is new business development in an area, it leads to job creation.  Large metropolitan areas are delighted when this happens and policymakers usually do whatever they can to facilitate the process.   In this article we look at two companies: one large (Ford Motor Company) and one small (The Licking Chicago) to see what their current plans are in the region.

At the far South Side, a renovation of two Ford Plants (costing $1 billion) has  just been completed.  One of the plants was the company’s oldest continuously producing one.  It has now been completely converted to a state-of-the-art facility in order to construct the new Ford Explore.  Featuring a brand-new paint shop, advanced tooling (which will be used for the development of the new SUV line) and contemporary body shop, the remodeling took a mere month to complete.  Although there will be over 650 robots, this does not seem to have affected the massive job creation that has emerged from this project. The sentiment was echoed by Local 551 Union Chairman Alan Millender who said he was “surprised[since with] the new robots, you think would take jobs away, but it actually added jobs in Chicago. My dad worked 51.4 years here he would be amazed what this plant has come from.”

Ford Motor Company President Joe Hinrichs said:

“We’re proud of our commitment to the South Side of Chicago. 95 years of being here. This investment says a lot about the community and our support we get here, our great workforce. The Explorer Aviator is sold out for this year and we think next year as well. So, great signs for this community, including the stamping plant, and a big commitment by Ford.”

On a smaller scale, a popular Miami chain restaurant – Finga Licking – has just opened at 5045 W. Madison.  The owner – popular hip-hop/rap, artist/producer DJ Khaled – is seeking to “make the franchise accessible and bring jobs to communities that need them.”  This sentiment was echoed by Sharod Robinson, regional manager who said:

“We’re about bringing jobs and creation to the urban neighborhoods. We employee over 100 employees and all of them are from within the community.” 

Chicago and Educational News

Englewood is getting a new high school.  The public educational institute will open its doors later this year and will feature modern, high-tech, quality facilities.  This is particularly good news for the neighborhood since over the last few years it has witnessed the closure of many schools.

An opening day was held this past Saturday at the Kennedy King College’s gym which seemed like a graduation ceremony!  Attended by parents of future students, this $85 million STEM school – located at the old Robeson High School at 6835 S. Norman – will initially be available for 9th-12th graders.  According to Janice Jackson, CPS CEO:

“Our design was to ensure this was a neighborhood school. We’re so excited to bring a high-quality option right here in their backyard that the students can go to and be proud of.”

Taking an umbrella look at comprehensive look at how Emanuel Rahm is leaving his Mayorship we find that there is an “all time high graduation rate nearing 80 percent…within the Chicago Public Schools system.”  Also the rate of learning has increased to 96 percent throughout America’s schools districts, even compared to far wealthier ones.  According to Emanuel:

“There was never a problem we pushed down the road or kicked the can on. We confronted every problem: Everything that had gotten worse because we had avoided making tough calls, we confronted head on.”

Rahm’s achievements since taking office include: STAR program; formation of the free, pre-K program for 4 year olds; getting more money for a new school funding formula.

Clean Energy in Chicago

clean energy

Committing to 100 percent clean energy is not only great for the environment but is also a very good business decision. This is probably why “the world’s most influential companies [are] committed to 100 renewable energy.”  Chicago has now followed suit, becoming the nation’s “largest city” to make this commitment. What this means is that the 2.7 million inhabitants will be subject to clean and renewable energy in all buildings by 2035 and by 2040 all 1,850 CTA buses will be electrified.

Thanks to Resolution R2019-157 a transition plan has been codified. Thus by the end of next year a timeline and milestones will be put in place.  Locals have been very involved in this endeavor which, according to Jobs to Move America (Illinois) Campaign Director Kassie Byer is “integral to its future success.”  She said:

“The Chicago Collective who wrote this resolution, proves that not only can Chicago build a climate-safe future for next generations, but that a truly just transition also creates good, family-sustaining jobs.”

Over in Bronzeville positive effects are being felt thanks to ComEd. The Beethoven Elementary School has a pathway that is now lit up thanks to off-grid lights powered by renewable energy!  ComEd installed the 30-feet tall RPUs via mini power plants which do not connect to the electric grid.  Instead they get their energy from battery storage, solar panels and wind turbine and are manufactured by ARIS Renewable Energy.

Business Development and Job Creation

Business Development

Less than two weeks after J. B. Pritzker was inaugurated as Illinois’ 43rd governor, he guided a review to be conducted by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) on the enhanced efficiency of the use of state funds for workforce training.  The DCEO has 90 days for this project.  Pritzker said:

“It is critical that state resources are being used to meet the demands of the 21st Century,”

The idea is to offer new businesses capital, technical support and mentorship.  To date, 1871 – the nonprofit Business Incubator that Pritzker helped establish in 2012 – has already generated approximately 7,000 jobs as well as 400+ digital startups which are now in place in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

And then there is the Illinois solar revolution that is taking place throughout various parts of the state’s open land.  Various communities are getting on board to use solar power in an effort to meet renewable energy goals.  One example of this is Aurora which is seeking to turn half of all energy to renewable within the next decade.  Will County’s Energy and Conservation Specialist, Sam Bluemer has described what is happening as “an energy revolution.”

The initiator for this was the 2017 Future Energy Jobs Act which was established – and has successfully – set up new solar programs and incentives.  One of these is the lottery whereby developers can apply in January for renewable energy credits often needed for viability of the projects and can be used for:

  1. Residential/commercial installations
  2. large, utility-scale solar arrays
  3. small-scale solar projects known as community solar.

Keep posted for more exciting developments in 2019 in Illinois.

Illinois Tax

An “in-between” tax rate is coming to Illinois for 2017 earnings.  There was a tax increase in the state and thus the Illinois Department of Revenue calculated a “blended” rate of 4.35% following an increase of the basic rate (in July) from 3.75 to 4.95%.  According to Terry Horstman – spokesman for the Department of Revenue – this figure is based on the amount of days under the two different figures.  Tax forms will comprise the blended rate facilitating the process for taxpayers.  The rate is for income from January-December 2017. The increase in tax rates is in order to raise over $5.1 billion for the 2018 fiscal year.

There are potentially more tax increases in the pipeline too that will go toward recreation programs.  With a  tax property increase the Chicago Park District believes they will get closer to their proposed $462.3 million budget for park expansion and “special recreation programming” and sites.  This would only cost the average homeowner an additional $6.48 and would generate a staggering $7.6 million in revenue.

When it comes to wind energy firms in the state, the taxing model there has been “touted as one of the best in the country, bringing in $30.4 million in property taxes in 2016, according to economic experts.”  Whereas it’s common for most of the nation to implore a very patchy system, Illinois has a much more “consistent” one which began in 2007 after its legislature found its system of property tax assessments was so problematic and confusing when it came to wind companies.

Benefits of Leaving Landfills

Sometimes it is essential to move a landfill.  But at other times – like in the case that exists in the St. Louis region – it makes a lot more sense to leave well alone and have the landfill monitored efficiently.

This is exactly what the situation is with the West Lake Landfill.  In this case, moving it would be very problematic.  Thankfully though, West Lake is a prime example of where monitoring over the years has been successful.  And, with the work of the dedicated EPA, this is happening.

In fact, the West Lake Landfill is one of America’s “most monitored sites of its type…with $200 million invested to help solve complex problems,” which currently exist there or with the Bridgeton Landfill that sits adjacent to it.

When there is no risk to public health – as has been deemed by both state and federal agencies in the West Lake Landfill situation – leaving alone is the best solution.

The Art Institute of Chicago Wins Interactive Award at SXSW

And the winner was: The Art Institute of Chicago for its digital tool called JourneyMaker in the Visual Media Experience division.

The tool allows families to create their own personalized tour of the Art Institute museum ahead of time, to make their “in-person” visit more rewarding.

The yearly Interactive Innovation Awards entered its 20th year at this year’s SXSW conference, and gave out a total of 13 awards. The awards cover a wide range of categories, including wearable tech, VR & AR, smart cities and new economy.

Visual media experience, the category for which the Chicago Art Institute was recognized, awards projects that “create content and deliver it in a way that moves beyond passive viewership by providing a more immersive and engaging entertainment experience.”

JourneyMaker was launched last year. Users create a personalized tour of the museum choosing one of eight storylines, like Superheroes or Time Travelers. They then select the works found in the museum that they would like to visit that fit within their chosen theme. When you are done, you can even print a hard copy of the guide you just created, and come well-prepared for some great museum fun.

The main goal of the tool is to make what otherwise could be a daunting, confusing experience at the museum into an organized, enjoyable journey which the whole family planned together in advance.

IRS Opening Branches at Your Nearby Seven-Eleven

Seven-11 will now take money from taxpayers for the IRS. Photo by HenryWBee
Seven-11 will now take money from taxpayers for the IRS. Photo by HenryWBee

In order to make it as easy as possible for the approximately 1 in 13 households in America that don’t have bank accounts to pay their taxes, the IRS will allow people to pay them at Seven-Eleven convenience stores.

Seven-Eleven convenience stores are small groceries found in a huge number of neighborhood strip malls has been catering to people without bank accounts or credit cards more every year. The IRS decision to allow payments in 7,000 of these stores throughout the country is a reflection of the need to make it easier for people to pay their tax bills.

“We continue to look for new ways to provide services for our taxpayers … this provides a new way for people who can only pay their taxes in cash without having to travel to an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Anyone that would like to pay their taxes at a Seven-Eleven will have to sign up first by going to IRS.gov payments page. They will receive instructions and an email confirming their information after the IRS verifies it. Then they will receive a payment code and more instructions. Then they will be able to make a payment at a local store.

The IRS urges anyone considering this option for payment to start in advance, because it could take a few days to get confirmation. To avoid penalties or late fees payments need to be made by April 18 this year. There is a $1,000 payment limit per day, and a $3.99 fee for each payment.