Category Archives: Technology

Historic Passenger Flight Out of Chicago Uses 100% Sustainable Fuel

On Wednesday, December 1, 2021, a United Airlines flight with over 100 passengers took off from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Washington D.C. on the first passenger flight with 100% sustainable aviation fuel.

The 737 MAX 8 aircraft used 500 gallons of green fuel in one of its engines and an equal amount of regular jet fuel in the other engine. Airlines are allowed to use a maximum of 50% of green fuel on any flight.

Candy Business Hack Spooks Halloween

Halloween candy
Gummy worms, candy corn, and other Halloween treats were available in stores despite the October hack of Ferrara Candy.

Ferrara Candy, the Chicago-based candy manufacturer, faced a devastating ransomware hack in October.

The attack on October 9, 2021, just weeks before Halloween, did curtail candy production but did not impact the supply of holiday favorites like candy corn, Nerds, gummy worms, and other sweets.

Ferrara, which makes 85% of the candy corn in the United States, has been making candy for more than 110 years. Founded by Italian immigrant Salvatore Ferrara, the company is the leading non-chocolate provider of seasonal treats.  

Overall, the 2021 Halloween season candy sales, following the pandemic slump, increased by nearly 48%, with sales topping $324 million. Unfortunately, the pandemic also yielded a 300% spike in cyber crimes. Industry experts are urging corporations, businesses, and the general public to take extra precautions to protect their online and real-life operations.

ransomware hacker
Cyber crimes have increased since the onset of the pandemic.

Chicago and Microsoft Partner for Digital Training

On October 1, Microsoft announced a new partnership with Chicago to provide free digital skills training courses for at least 300,000 residents.

 “Accelerate Chicago,” is meant to boost the employability of Chicago citizens who either lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or those who have few digital skills at all. It will also offer “cross-training” for those looking to pivot their career paths. Accelerate includes free courses on several Microsoft applications and programs.

Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago, explained that the new program will allow the city to remedy the “socioeconomic fallout” of the COVID-19 pandemic by offering participants “good-paying, sustainable” jobs.

“We have an important opportunity to use this moment to better the lives of those who were struggling long before this pandemic ever struck.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, at a news conference with Microsoft President Brad Smith.

Accelerate has already been launched in New York, Atlanta, Houston, and Louisville, Kentucky.

Chicago Tech Companies

Last month, $205 million was raised in funding by technology companies in Chicago.  This trend began back in August when $199 million raised and September figures was $182 million.  Here we take a look at industries that are making these impacts.

A new initiative in Illinois is being launched for self-driving car technology. A human driver will have to sit in the car in case of emergencies but there will be a robot chauffeur “driving” the car. This new technology is however likely to seriously reduce traffic fatalities.

Another technology firm making an impact in Chicago is Rooam which is due to open before the end of the year.  The company – which recently purchased Tally – gives users the ability to pay for food and drinks at various eateries via an app.

Chicago’s Fintech Industry

Deloitte and the Global FinTech Hubs Federation recently ranked Chicago among the top five global fintech hubs.  FinTEx Chicago has been advocating strongly on its behalf and as such its fintech and financial services companies now comprise 14 percent of the 50 fastest-growing companies in the region.

Fintech – a double-sided industry comprising technology and innovation in an effort to compete with traditional financial methods vis-à-vis the financial services they offer – is a great way to bolster employment.  Given that the financial sector has the capacity to positively affect job growth, Chicago is looking good in that area now as well.  Indeed, according to a recent report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, year-over-year employment in the region’s financial sector encountered a 3.6 percent jump (which is more than double gains in the next highest industry).

When you see this kind of increase in jobs, it is also testament to the level of savviness among citizens.  Startups need more than just one genius at the top.  They require solid, committed workforce which is apparent in Chicago.

One example of this comes from Alain Glanzman and what he did with his startup, WalletFi, when he took it to Chicago’s second Financial Technology Accelerator program. He was told by executives in the financial industry (from banks and credit unions) at the FinTech accelerator that if he targeted financial institutions, the company would more likely be successful.  As such, he changed the direction from it being a mobile app to a real company!

One aspect that makes Chicago’s fintech unique is that it features startups as well as veteran firms.  And they are codependent with established firms relying on fresh out of college engineers.

This is what Chicago is doing.  This is how fintech is revolutionizing the business world there.