A park pond in chicago Illinois’ extensive business leadership perseveres with top rankings highlighted by CNBC’s 2023 Top States for Business publication. Business and educational opportunities continue to increase as Illinois surpasses the rankings of their neighbors and its own previous ranks. Based on 10 categories of competitiveness, Illinois is reported at top 10 in the nation for four categories and top 20 in six categories. Overall, Illinois is named the 17th best state for business, which is ahead by two places in their 2022 ranking and up from 30th in 2019.

Highlights of Illinois’ rankings:
• #2 in the nation for infrastructure
• #2 in the nation for education
• #6 in the nation for access to capital
• #9 in the nation for cost of living

Through the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois initiative, Illinois stimulates economic movement across the state with the completion of more than 5,300 miles of highway and nearly 500 bridges, as well as over 750 accessibility and safety improvements. Additionally, the initiative invests into Illinois’ educational foundation by passing Smart Start Illinois and increasing funding through the MAP Grant and AIM High.

Improved infrastructure, state-wide access to affordable education, and economic growth, combine to create higher quality of life for Illinoisans. Among its positive rankings in infrastructure and education, Illinois is a part of the top 20 states for life, health, and inclusion, which includes healthcare, worker protection, and voting rights.

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The Lynching of Samuel J. Bush Historical Marker at Macon Courthouse in Decatur, IL.Between 1891 and1914, there were at least 22 racially motivated lynchings in Illinois. On June 3, 2023, exactly 130 years after his murder, the first Illinois State Historical Society marker recognizing the untold stories of racial terror lynchings was placed in the city of Decatur in memory of Samuel J. Bush.

Bush was accused of assaulting two white women on June 3, 1893. He was then charged and held in the Macon County Courthouse. Before he had a chance to defend himself in a court of law, a mob of 1,500 white people from Mt. Zion stormed the courthouse, and abducted him. The mob then dragged a naked Mr. Bush to the intersection of Water & Wood Street, and proceeded to hang him from a utility pole. There, according to newspaper accounts, he knelt and prayed for, “Jesus to come and take his soul and forgive the men who were murdering him.”

None of his perpetrators faced legal consequences for his murder.

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Over a year later, the family and friends of Jelani Day are still grappling for answers as they grieve the loss of their loved one. Despite living with the pain of receiving the horrifying, life-changing news of Day’s passing, the family started the Jelani Day Foundation in August 2022 intended to be an advocate for minorities who are missing and to help families through the traumatic experience in honor of the life and legacy of Jelani Day.

The 25-year-old was found dead in Peru, Illinois in September of 2021. He was reported missing the week before, and was last seen in Bloomington, where he was a graduate student at Illinois State University.

The people who run the “Justice for Jelani Day” Facebook page announced the creation of the Jelani Day Foundation Scholarship for seniors attending Danville High School, Day’s alma mater. The announcement stated, “Jelani had dreams of giving back to his community and being a service to others, and even in his absence that dream will not be unfulfilled”.

This month, JDF was pleased to celebrate the launch of the Jelani Day Foundation Scholarship and honored to award their very first recipient.

Nevaeh Jones, of Danville High School, was honored with a $500 scholarship based on her community involvement, life experiences, academic achievement, and her scholarship essay.
The Foundation is looking forward to keeping Day’s legacy alive through more scholarship opportunities in the future. To support his legacy and families of color while searching for a loved one, folks can donate to JDF. Additionally, JDF will host the Annual All White Gala to celebrate one year since the foundation’s inception. You can follow Justice for Jelani Day on Facebook for more information.

CPL picIn the heart of the Windy City lies the Chicago Public Library, which consists of 81 locations, including a central library, two regional libraries and branches distributed throughout the city's 77 community areas.

The American Library Association reports that the library holds 5,721,334 volumes, making it the ninth largest public library in the United States by volumes held and the second largest public library system in the Midwest.

This year, the library is celebrating 150 years of service to the great city of Chicago. Since 1873, it’s moved to several locations varying from the City Hall to traveling buses and carts which provided multiple selections of books to be delivered.

In recent years, CPL has reached major milestones, becoming the largest public library system in the United States to eliminate late fees for borrowed items in 2019. CPL also forgave all existing fines and allowed more than 100,000 formerly blocked accounts to start anew. There are still due dates for borrowed items, and patrons are still required to return items or replace them to continue their borrowing privileges.

In addition to no overdue fines, the library’s property tax levy was raised by a fraction to increase library access on Sundays. All CPL branches now operate seven days a week and visitation has increased by 35%, according to library officials.

View a visual timeline of the library on CPL’S website.

As January comes to an end, let’s celebrate those who were born in Illinois in the month of January! Many birthdays of note from people born in Illinois occurred in January. From actors and actresses to the famous, historic, or otherwise distinguished figures who can track their birthplaces back to Illinois in January are as follows:

- Betty White: American actress and comedian, born on Jan. 17, 1922 in Oak Park

- Michelle Obama: Former First Lady of the United States (2009-2017), lawyer, and writer born on Jan. 17, 1964 in Chicago

- John Belushi: Comedian best known for his role on Saturday Night Live, actor and musician born on Jan. 24, 1949 in Chicago

- Michael Peña: American actor known for his roles in Ant-Man and Crash, born on Jan. 12, 1976 in Chicago

- Carl Rogers: Psychologist whom is one of the founders of humanistic psychology and pioneered the field of clinical psychological research, born on Jan. 8, 1902 in Oak Park