piggy3Today, March 1 is National Pig Day, which is cause to celebrate in Illinois because we are one of the nation’s top four pork producers. Pig Day is mostly celebrated in the Midwest since it is the home of the holiday. Pigs are an important part of diets and economies all over the world, our country and more specifically, our state.

Only North Carolina, Iowa and Minnesota outranked Illinois’ 1.9 billion pounds of pork production in 2011.

The pork industry contributes more than $1.8 billion to the state’s economy and generates more than $170 million in state taxes. On top of that, market hogs consume about 155 million bushels of corn each year, the equivalent of more than 911,000 acres. Market hogs also consume about 32 million bushels of soybeans.

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The famous Chicago architect Daniel Burnham is credited with the quote: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood.” As Illinois’ construction industry continues to add jobs and create inspiring places to live, work and enjoy, it is clear that developers are heeding Burnham’s advice.

Nearly 10 years after the start of the Great Recession, real estate development is once again thriving in Chicago. Around the city, there are encouraging signs of investment as cranes continue to rise at worksites, creating jobs and bringing residents into brand-new housing developments.

Reports from the Chicago Department of Buildings suggest that 2017 was a record year for development in the city, with over 40,000 construction permits issued, a five-year high. Over the course of the year, 62 construction cranes towered above the city, up from 12 during the toughest stretch of the recession.

In Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper, there are 47 ongoing construction projects that will rise 100 feet or higher once completed. As recently as 10 years ago, such widespread and grand development would have been unthinkable.

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In honor of President Lincoln’s birthday, here are 16 facts that you probably didn’t know about our 16th president: Abraham Lincoln

1. Hours before he was assassinated, Lincoln signed legislation creating the U.S. Secret Service. 

2. Lincoln was a wrestler, and a talented one at that. He lost only one match, out of an estimated 300, and he is enshrined in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

3. Lincoln read the Bible every day, but he never belonged to an organized church.

4. He supported women’s suffrage in 1836 – more than 80 years before the passage of the 19th Amendment.

5. When Lincoln was nine years old, his mother died after drinking tainted milk from southern Indiana that contained poisonous white snakeroot.

6. Lincoln was scheduled to take part in a duel, but it was called off at the last second.

7. He was the first president to use a telegraph, have a beard, and to be born outside of the 13 original colonies.

8. John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln were photographed together at Lincoln’s second inauguration.

9. In 1864, someone shot at Lincoln and pierced his hat.

10. John Wilkes Booth’s brother, Edwin Booth, saved the life of Lincoln’s son Robert. The young Lincoln fell off a train platform in New Jersey and Booth’s brother pulled him from the tracks.

11. In his US Senate race against Douglas, Lincoln won the popular vote but lost the election.

12. Ulysses S. Grant was supposed to accompany Lincoln to the show at Ford’s Theater, but he cancelled at the last minute.

13. Lincoln served as a judge on the Illinois Circuit Court.

14. A year after Lincoln died, a drunken assailant killed Lincoln’s dog, Fido.

15. Lincoln loved cats. He even let his cat eat at the White House dinner table.

16. He hated to be called Abe. Instead he preferred people call him Lincoln.

Illinois is leading the Midwest in investments in parks, recreation and education according to the most recent report on national rankings from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

Illinois far outranked fellow Midwestern states in spending on parks and recreation. Illinois ranks third in the nation in overall spending on parks and recreation and fifth on a per capita basis. None of the other Midwestern states broke the top 20 in this category, with Iowa coming in next in the Midwest at 21st on a per capita basis. Indiana and Kentucky rank 50th and 48th respectively. Parks and recreation opportunities in the state enable residents to lead a more healthful and active lifestyle and can spur economic development through tourism.  

ClassroomThe most recent data shows that Illinois is spending above the national average on elementary and secondary education and is leading the Midwest in this category as well. Illinois ranks fifth in the nation for the amount spent on elementary and secondary education. This spending includes both money from the state and property tax revenues. Illinois is followed by Ohio and Michigan, ranked 8th and 10th respectively. By investing in our youth, Illinois is investing in our future.

The Commission publishes several reports each year, including special topic reports that have or could have an impact on the economic well‐being of Illinois. All reports are available on the Commission’s website.

To read the full report, click here.

muskie drawingAncient folklore describes the muskie as a beast among fish, an eel-like creature that slithers along the ocean floor with an aggressive nature that urges fisherman to use caution with this fish. The muskie or muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) has an elongated head and body that makes it an excellent ambush predator.

It hides among seaweed and waits for prey, and its sharp teeth are pefect for pointing holes in anything unfortunate enough to cross its path. An adult muskie is an apex predator; only humans pose a significant threat. Its weight ranges from 30 to 60 pounds or even up to 110 pounds, according to a 1908 fisherman’s myth. It can be found in northern freshwater waterways such as the Great Lakes.

It’s commonly found in large rivers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and northern Canada. On July 5, Jim Hack, a financial advisor in Barrington, reeled in a whopping 54-inch muskie from a lake in Lake County, Illinois. He brought it to the Salmon Stop in Waukegan, where it was certified. It weighed 35 pounds, 10 ounces with a length of 54 inches and girth of 22.5 inches. This fish has now gone on record to be the largest muskie caught in Illinois in 2006 but still short of a 2002 muskie caught by Matt Carmean that weighed in at 38 pounds, 8 ounces with a length of 50 ¾ inches. Carmean was fishing for walleye below the Lake Shelbyville Dam.

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