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Did you know actress and singer Jennifer Hudson was born on Sept. 12, 1981? Born and raised in Chicago, as a young girl she sang in her church choir, which started her love for singing and performing. Later, in 1999, she graduated from Dunbar Vocational Career Academy in Bronzeville.

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Eliza Von Zerneck is a freelance illustrator and designer from Peoria. Her favorite medium to work in is acrylic paint. When her residency at the Prairie Center of the Arts was put on pause because of COVID-19, she found new ways to create art in her own home. Lately, she has been using scraps from my mom’s fabric trunk to make patchwork illustrations and soft sculpture pieces.

How long have you been an artist or when did you start?

I’ve been a fan of art much longer than I’ve been an artist. I scribbled with crayons and markers during school just like everyone else, and I loved being praised for my drawings by my teachers, but the real seeds were planted in the evenings when my parents would read me picture books. I couldn’t fathom how someone could create those intricate illustrations, but I loved looking at them while my mom read the words out loud.

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Michelle Smith is a Springfield, Illinois artist. Smith recently won a The Ralph Lauren Design for good Polo shirt. Her design on the iconic polo can be viewed and purchased here: https://rlauren.co/2ZW0pse

What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you? As Illinois is all I really know, it has always been, and always will be home. I am very proud to be able to say, not only do I live and work in Illinois but I am born, raised, educated and STILL in Illinois!

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Danville_IL_grain_mill.jpgAdvisorSmith, an information resource for small business owners, has named Danville the most affordable small city out of 507 markets that the company studied. 

The firm used information collected from real estate website Zillow and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to estimate the weighted average housing price in each city.

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peoria-1584436_1280.jpgAs many people adjust to working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent poll suggests about one-third of Americans are considering moving to less populated areas of the country—five Illinois cities have been highlighted as top destinations for those looking to relocate.

Business Insider ranked cities based on factors like economics, education and cost of living to come up with a list of the top 30 places to settle after the threat of the pandemic has subsided. Their research indicates five Illinois cities—Danville, Peoria, Champaign, Bloomington and Springfield—may become hubs for these post-pandemic transplants.

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