Dan RyanA recent report from the National Safety Council ranks Illinois as the top state in the nation for road safety. The State of Safety report focuses on eight categories, including: distracted driving impaired driving, seat belt usage, child passengers, older drivers, speeding, teen drivers and vulnerable road users.

Illinois’ top grade on road safety would not have been possible without the work and commitment of Senate President John Cullerton, who has championed traffic safety legislation over the past 30 years.

The Senate President began working to improve road safety early in his career when he sponsored the Child Passenger Protection Act in 1983. This law required children under age 4 to use child safety seats in cars. This legislation was later updated in 2003 to extend protections to children under the age of 8 with the addition of a booster seat requirement. To learn more about child passenger safety laws, click here.

Soon after that, the Senate President sponsored legislation to require front-seat passengers in cars to wear seat belts. At the time, just over 15 percent of passengers used seat belts. Now, that number has climbed to 94 percent. The Senate President expanded this legislation in 2011, when he sponsored a bill to require passengers in the back seat of vehicles to wear seat belts as well.

To combat the rising number of teen deaths and car accidents, in 2007, the Senate President helped implement graduated licenses for teens. Under this legislation, teens progress through a series of tiered driving restrictions as they gain more experience.

While serving as the Senate President, legislation to curb distracted driving was implemented. In the time it takes to look at a text message, a car traveling at 55 miles per hour will cover the length of a football field. Since 2014, driving while using a phone is a ticketable offense. Drivers are still able to use hands-free features on their phones and one-touch dialing.

These important pieces of legislation have saved countless lives and contributed to Illinois’ recognition for having the safest roads in the U.S.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced recently that the city’s industrial property vacancy rate has hit its lowest point in 16 years.

Chicago’s industrial property vacancy rate dropping to just 6.6 percent suggests that the local advanced industrial economy is back on the upswing after decades of job loss due to offshoring and automation. The rate of occupancy in industrial buildings is just one indicator of Chicago’s economic health. Mayor Emanuel announced a few other favorable statistics this week, framing Chicago as a desirable location for corporate headquarters and tech-savvy businesses.

Thanks to a strong trend of corporate relocations to Chicago—2017 marked Chicago’s fourth straight year as Site Selection Magazine’s top metro for corporate investment—the downtown commercial real estate market continues to boom. Average downtown office value grew by 20% over the past year, which is the second-largest increase in the world.

Chicago also continues to attract and retain technology talent. “Silicon Prairie,” as it is sometimes called, is a growing site for innovation, rivaling tech incubators in New York and the Bay Area. I Like Illinois has already reported that investments in Chicago’s tech scene pay out at higher rates than investments in any other technology hub in the United States. To this point, Emanuel also mentioned that Chicago was named the sixth best city in the world for technological innovators in a survey of industry insiders.

These numbers tell a powerful story about Chicago. With desirable real estate and a strong technology sector, the city is developing an economy that will support a large and diverse workforce for many years to come.

As summer begins, there is no better time to enjoy Illinois’ parks and the many activities that are available in warmer months. With its well-maintained infrastructure, shady trees and miles of trails, Illini State Park is a classic Illinois summer destination. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ website, “Illini State Park is the type of park you think of when you think of big picnics and family gatherings.”

Located along the Illinois River in Marseilles, Illini State Park is an ideal Northwestern Illinois location for enjoying the spring and summer weather. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps renovated portions of the nearby Marstawa Country Club, adding them to the park. This means that there is significant, solid infrastructure in place for outdoor activities including camping, picnics and youth events.

Other recreational spaces include a baseball diamond and numerous horseshoe pits. During the warmer months, a concession stand serving food, drinks and ice cream opens in the park.

Illini State Park is home to hickory, ash, walnut, elm, cottonwood, oak and maple trees. During spring and summer, visitors can spot blooming wildflowers, white-tailed deer, squirrels, opossums, beavers, raccoon, groundhogs, waterfowl and songbirds.

The river has an ample supply of crappie, bass, bluegill, catfish, carp and many other species. A boat ramp is available, but boaters should be aware that the park is close to the Marseilles Lock and Dam and that barge traffic can be heavy.

There is something for everyone at Illini State Park. The opportunities for good times grow as summer comes to Illinois. Plan your trip to Illini State Park today!

UPS airplaneUPS announced plans to move air shipping operations to Rockford from Des Moines. This change is expected to bring more than 200 new jobs to Rockford. The jobs will include both full- and part-time positions, such as package handlers.

Along with adding jobs in Illinois, UPS will move 13 flights each week to the Rockford airport from Des Moines starting in July. The decision to make the move is in part due to the availability of a larger sorting facility in Rockford but also because Rockford is closer to major markets.

Over the past few years, the Chicago-Rockford International Airport has invested in a new terminal and equipment.

"Recent investment in the airport has served as a catalyst for other development that's in the works, that's already happened, and I'm really excited about it," Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney told WREX.

Craft beerChicago has a long history with beer. The first brewery opened in Chicago in the same year or shortly after the city was incorporated. Today, Chicago is home to more than 150 breweries. Increasingly, breweries from around the nation are distributing their product within Chicago.

The latest to join the craft brew scene in Chicago is Blue Point Brewing, based in Patchogue, New York. Blue Point beers are now available in bars and retailers and will soon be available at the United Center and Wrigley Field. Other recent arrivals include Toppling Goliath from Decorah, Iowa, Odell Brewing from Fort Collins, Colorado and Short’s Brewing from Bellaire, Michigan.

Out-of-town breweries, such as California-based Lagunitas and Milwaukee-based Like Minds Brewing have opened breweries and taprooms of their own in Chicago, making the Second City a second home.

The chief economist of the Brewers Association told Crain’s Chicago Business that due to the large size of Chicago’s beer market, newcomers do not need to seize an extensive share of the market in order to be successful. Craft beer drinkers tend to switch brands more frequently than previous generations, making variety an important component among retailers. Overall, craft beer comprises 13 percent of the U.S. market.

Craft beer buyers tend to favor local products in their purchasing decisions, so in order for an out-of-town beer to be successful, it must be distinct. With local favorites in Chicago such as Half Acre Beer Company and Revolution Brewing, and new breweries like On Tour Brewing Company opening frequently, out-of-town beers have extensive competition.

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