A recent report by the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) shows that the renewable energy sector is thriving in Illinois. This is good news for both the environment, which benefits from lower carbon emissions, and the economy, which benefits from the continued growth of the green energy sector.

In recent years, Illinois policymakers have taken steps to encourage research, development and growth of renewable energy. The first step toward this goal is to ensure that Illinois’ workforce has the skills to build and maintain a renewable energy infrastructure.

The Future Energy Jobs Act went into effect in June of 2017. This new law helps position Illinois as a leader in zero-carbon electricity by dedicating hundreds of millions of dollars to renewable power development including funding for wind power, large-scale solar power, and rooftop and community solar programs. The Act also provides job training for the thousands of new jobs expected in the fields of energy efficiency, energy innovation and renewable power.

Due to this large-scale investment in renewable energy, green power is on track to deliver an increasingly large share of electrical power. According to estimates by the ELPC, solar energy is expected to contribute an increasingly large share of power to the grid. By 2030, experts predict that Illinois’ stock of solar panels will have grown by 4,000 percent.

The solar energy industry in Illinois shows a particularly promising growth trend. Reports indicate that over 6,000 people are employed by the more than 350 companies that make up the state’s solar industry. As solar power continues to grow across the state, even more economic activity is sure to follow.

Efforts to encourage broader use of efficient and renewable energy technologies are already underway. Local governments can now establish a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing Program, which is a tool to encourage homeowners and businesses to invest in energy efficiency.

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computer A report by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition and LinkedIn names Illinois as the country’s second largest producer of computer science graduates, with one out of every 10 degrees in the country going to a graduate from an Illinois school. The report also showed that Illinois rose from a rank of 43rd in STEM field graduates in 2012 to a rank of 9th in 2016.

Illinois is also conferring more STEM degrees on graduates than the national average. In 2016, Illinois schools conferred 40,000 STEM field degrees on students, or about 32 percent of all graduates. The national average for the percentage of STEM degrees as a portion of all graduates is about 28 percent.

The study also showed a lower turnover in Chicago for software engineers, with employees staying on at their companies longer than in other regions. It also showed Chicago retains more of its computer science workers than some other cities, keeping about half of them.

For more information, read the full report here.

Walgreenswalgreens300 is expanding its technology office in Chicago, which will bring 300 new employees to the central loop district through new hires and relocations from the company’s headquarters in Deerfield.

The Walgreens retail pharmacy and technology team will be located in the Sullivan Center. The 300 new jobs will support the company’s largest line of business, the technology side that handles pharmaceutical sales.

Walgreens opened its technology office in 2010 and currently serves as its digital hub. The technology team is responsible for the computer systems that operate stores across the United States.

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Jesse Whiteteendriving kicked off National Teen Driver Safety Week on Oct. 15, 2017 by announcing that teen driving deaths have decreased by 51 percent in less than 10 years.

The graduated driver’s license program in Illinois was strengthened when the Teen Driver Safety Task Force was established in 2008 with the goal of decreasing the number of teen deaths in Illinois.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, graduated licenses reduce teens’ driving risks by allowing teens to practice driving with supervision before getting their full- license and limiting in-car distractions. In Illinois, the new graduated licensing laws restricted hours of night driving for teenagers and the number of passengers that drivers under 20 can have in their car. Today, all states have some foundations of the GDL program.

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Rochelle Ilinois In the small town of Rochelle, about 80 miles west of Chicago at the intersection of Interstates 88 and 39, business is booming. The Greater Rochelle Economic Development Corporation has attracted companies like Nippon Sharyo, Boise Cascade, Tyson Foods, and Hormel.

This rural community consists of about 9,000 people, and its economy is bolstered by frozen French fries, bacon, ethanol, fabricated steel, hydroponic tomatoes, and the production of passenger cars for METRA. Each year, about 16,000 freight cars pass through Rochelle, picking up and delivering grain and other goods. Rochelle will soon gain another local gross domestic product from a boutique whiskey that is distilled in a former downtown theater.

Rochelle is also home to a 1,200 acre intermodal rail park operated by Union Pacific. This park is used as a shipping point to send goods to the Pacific Rim.

The growth doesn’t stop there. The future for Rochelle as an industrial star in Illinois and the Midwest looks bright. Rochelle is working to bring a $1.6 billion auto assembly plant from Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp., which could employ 4,000 people, to the town. Bidders from more than a dozen states are looking at the same prize, but Rochelle is already prepared. The town has 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans set aside for the new plant.

Rochelle is proving the common melody played by political and business elites wrong. Illinois is not a diminishing state, but instead outshining surrounding states in certain areas thanks to cities like Rochelle.

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