Week in Review for July 20, 2019

Push for federal flood recovery assistance. The heavy rains that fell over Illinois and watershed states in the spring and early summer of 2019 caused significant lost business and property damage to residents along major Illinois rivers, ranging from the Ohio River in southern Illinois to the Rock River in northern Illinois. The Mississippi River was in flood for a record number of days this spring and early summer, with extensive damage and impacts that could trigger federal assistance to Illinois.

Individuals and businesses affected by the Flood of 2019 are urged to work with their county emergency management efforts on floodwater recovery. The State is currently conducting a damage assessment to strengthen its application for possible federal flood assistance.
Persons impacted by the Flood of 2019 are urged to participate and maximize the chance Illinois will get needed help in the wake of this natural disaster. Federal floodwater assistance would also constitute a return on Illinois’ disaster-related federal tax dollars.

Please visit www.Illinois.gov/2019Floods for more information.

Lightfoot names five potential sites for new Chicago casino. Mayor Lori Lightfoot identified five sites, all on the city’s South and West sides, as possible locations for a Chicago casino, her office said Wednesday.

A state-hired consultant will study the economic feasibility of the sites and report its findings to the state and city. City officials stressed that the casino won’t necessarily wind up at one of the five spots, which they characterized as test sites, but the choices suggest that Lightfoot seeks to fulfill her campaign promise to direct growth to the city’s struggling areas.

The five are a parcel near the Harborside golf course at 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Freeway; the former Michael Reese Hospital site at 31st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue; a site near Guaranteed Rate Field at Pershing Road and State Street; the former U.S. Steel parcel, known as South Works, between 79th and 91st streets along South Lake Shore Drive; and the lone West Side site, at Roosevelt Road and Kostner Avenue.

For more on this story from the Chicago Tribune, please click here.

Study undertaken to commence push for Chicago casino. The study, to be undertaken by Nevada-based Union Gaming Analytics, will examine the feasibility of erecting a 4,000-gaming-position casino complex somewhere in the city of Chicago. This feasibility study was one of the mandates inserted by the General Assembly in the new Chicago-and-statewide gaming law (SB 690) before work could go forward. Union Gaming was chosen by the Illinois Gaming Board, the State agency selected to oversee the commencement of the study, but the report will be presented to Governor Pritzker and the mayor of Chicago. Chicago will pay for the report. The study’s results are expected to be reported in August 2019.

Tackling student debt, keeping graduates in Illinois. Through highly targeted student assistance programs, Illinois is helping college graduates minimize student debt while at the same time addressing the critical shortage of teachers, nurses and public defenders. Designed to meet specific needs in our state, these programs invest in college graduates who promise to work in Illinois in these areas of need.

College students who plan to enter one of the targeted fields or graduates who are working in one of these fields should take a look at these specialized repayments programs designed to keep them working and thriving in Illinois.

Learn more about these programs at The Caucus Blog.

Logistics firm Hub Group to open second Chicago area headquarters. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based logistics and freight transportation provider and planner is implementing its Illinois-based expansion plans by breaking ground on a second building in its Chicago-suburbs headquarters complex. When completed, the management complex will have space for up to 1,500 employees.

Hub Group, which had 500 employees when it moved to Oak Brook in 2013, now has a headcount of 800. The Chicago area is a leader in 24/7 logistics management and planning, including software development to maximize the security and solutions of goods in transit worldwide. The Hub Group groundbreaking announcement was made on Monday, July 15.

Illinois prison population down 20 percent. The headcount of prisoners in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has dropped by 20% since 2013. During the following six years, the headcount of IDOC prisoners dropped from 49,401 to 39,204. This reduction eased overall burdens on the Department and its personnel, and helped make up for ongoing court pressures to provide more per-prisoner services to an aging inmate population. This was the first time the IDOC headcount had been below 40,000 since 1996.

In the 1970s, Illinois – which had almost as many overall residents back then as it has today – had custody of less than 10,000 state prisoners. Increased incarceration sentences since then are associated with tougher laws against drugs, longer sentences for sex crimes such as sexual abuse and sexual assault, and a pattern of violent crime. Illinois’ reduced-prisoner count has led to needed relief for the State’s correctional officers and career IDOC security personnel.

From Illinois to the Moon. This weekend marks the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Three weeks after their historic mission to the moon, the three astronauts of Apollo 11 were honored with a ticker tape parade through Chicago attended by as many as two million people. They were formally welcomed by Mayor Richard J. Daley with a celebration in a jam-packed Civic Center Plaza.

It was part of a day that began with a similar parade in New York, and ended with a dinner in Los Angeles hosted by President Richard Nixon, at which they were each presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

For two of the Apollo 11 astronauts, it was also a homecoming of sorts.

Please visit The Caucus Blog to learn more about Illinois’ connection to the Apollo program.

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