Monthly Archives: April 2016
Chicago is one of the premier destinations in the U.S. for trade shows, but the proposed demolition of a local convention center in favor of a new art museum could change that moving forward.
According to the Chicago Tribune, McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center seems to be Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s sacrificial lamb in a last-ditch effort to keep the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago.
Many Chicagoans view the Lakeside Center as an eyesore, but the building plays an important role in the local economy due to the massive trade shows that it hosts. Most notably, the building is home to the International Manufacturing Technology Show, which draws more than 100,000 visitors from all over the world every two years.
The Lakeside Center is also used for several major medical conferences in the area, including events for the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
“It could certainly cause a major challenge,” said Steve Drew, assistant executive director of RSNA.
About 50% of the largest 200 shows in the U.S. take place in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Orlando. Chicago’s economy is greatly influenced by these trade shows, and the proposed demolition would force the city to find new ways of generating fast revenue.
Much of this revenue should come from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which would replace the Lakeside Center if Mayor Emanuel’s plans are approved. The museum is the brainchild of “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas, who is expected to commit nearly $743 million of his own money to the project.
As Arch Newspaper reported, the Lucas Museum is currently involved in a legal battle with Friends of the Parks, a public space advocacy group that is concerned with how the museum would affect the city’s parks. This snafu has caused Lucas to reconsider the Chicago location, which prompted Mayor Emanuel to expedite the Lakeside Center demolition.
Blare Kamin, a Chicago Tribune architecture critic, recently backed the mayor’s decision to demolish the Lakeside Center, referring to it as the “shoreline’s Berlin Wall.”
There is still much left to be determined, but it seems as if the brash nature of the building’s aesthetics, paired with Mayor Emanuel’s infatuation with the Lucas Museum, could spell the end of the Lakeside Center.
Saturday’s snow storm came with high winds that blew off parts of the roof of an apartment building in the 7200 block of South Evans Street. Debris scattered across the neighborhood as some tenants watched from outside, while others were stuck in the building.
One witness told Chicago’s CBS 2 what he saw” “The chimney came crashing down. Then a second gust of wind hit the front part of the tarp and it brought all of the bricks down on top of the building.”
Tenants will not be allowed back into the building until it is deemed safe by a city inspector.
CBS 2 Meteorologist Mary Kay Kleist reported that the area registered tropical storm force winds at 56 mph. The Skydeck at Willis Tower was also closed as a safety precaution.
Uprooted trees, roof shingles, and fallen branches littered the streets, and fences were seen collapsed in suburban yards.
More expensive than fixing water damage, wind damage repair can cost a homeowner as much as $5,757. Homeowners across the city and surrounding suburbs will have some repairs to face, but fortunately for the residents of Chicago, the storm passed fairly quickly before causing any injuries or fatalities.
Chicago and the surrounding suburbs were not the only areas to be terrorized by the sudden storm on Saturday.
Washington D.C. experienced gusts at 58 mph, nearly matching the winds of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which were incredibly destructive at 61. Iron fences were mangled, cars were crushed, and 100-foot oak trees were brought down in the D.C. area.
Despite the damage to property, there have been no reports of injuries caused by the storm.
The entire country has been trending towards clean energy solutions for the past decade, but some are more committed to the movement than others. While Illinois has fallen behind in solar and wind energy, it’s still providing tons of jobs in other sections of this industry.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago-based Clean Energy Trust recently completed its first Clean Jobs Midwest report, which analyzed the growth of clean energy jobs in 12 Midwest states. Illinois was the top performer among all other states in this report, boasting 114,000 clean energy jobs with a 9% job growth rate in the past year.
Additionally, it seems as though the clean energy movement in Illinois is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Clean energy jobs in Illinois are expected to grow another 5.3% this year, exceeding the 4.4% average projected growth rate for the other 11 states.
Despite this impressive progress, it’s worth noting that Illinois has fallen behind in solar and wind energy jobs. In fact, the state lost 10.8% of its wind jobs and 3.4% of its solar jobs between 2014 and 2015.
However, its strong showing in this report is largely tied to job growth in energy-efficiency sectors such as heating and air conditioning, which many people do not associate with clean energy.
“People understand the idea of someone screwing a wrench on solar panels on someone’s roof or putting up a wind turbine,” said Ian Adams, director of public affairs at Clean Energy Trust. “A significant part of this economic activity is happening in (energy efficiency), where people at first glance might not realize there are clean energy activities going on.”
These overlooked clean energy jobs include tasks such as spray foam insulation installation, which can reduce heating costs up to 50%. In turn, these projects allow homeowners to use less energy on a daily basis.
As for the lack of progress in the solar sector, Adams attributes this issue to complicated state policy. The Illinois Power Agency currently collects all state funding that should go towards clean energy, but a regulatory problem has funneled most of this money into unrelated projects.
Illinois has suffered a significant setback in solar energy as a result of this funding snafu, though the rest of the Midwest isn’t faring much better. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, California leads the nation in solar electric capacity, and there is not one Midwest state in the top 10.
Peter Littlewood, director of Argonne National Laboratory, believes that the Midwest will see more solar energy job growth in the near future. The federal government plans to spend $20 billion on clean energy research and development in the next five years, and much of this funding will end up in the great state of Illinois.
“The Midwest is well-poised to take big chunks of that, because of the concentration we have of a very interesting mix of international labs and universities that play a big role,” Littlewood said.
Though Illinois may not be a national leader in solar or wind energy, it’s certainly doing its part to provide clean energy jobs in other essential ways.
With the press of the button, smartphone users across the country are able to order anything their hearts desire, whether it be makeup or takeout dinner. And while it’s certainly not a brand new convention, grocery delivery services are once again becoming a promising way to remedy the tedious chore of grocery shopping.
Over the past few decades, stalwart brands like Peapod and FreshDirect have been consistently providing grocery delivery services to the masses. Now, upstarts like Instacart and Google Express are joining the mix, bringing fresh technological advances.
Technically speaking, the direct-to-consumer model has been around for over a century. In the late 1990s, when the dot-com was in its heyday, companies like Webvan and Kozmo promised timely grocery deliveries, collapsing only years later in 2001.
But times have changed. Today, a large majority of all shopping is done online. In fact, global e-commerce sales generate more than $900,000 every 30 seconds through desktop sales and approximately $269,683 via mobile phones and tablets. And with e-commerce websites like Amazon and Vitacost seeing a sharp increase in the purchase and delivery of non-perishable food items, it reflects a reinvigorated consumer demand for delivered groceries.
But finding the correct process to successfully delivery groceries is the most difficult part of all.
“Grocery is very different than general merchandise. The products have a shelf life; there is a very high cost to picking orders in the store. You also have a mix of frozen goods, refrigerated goods, dry goods, and then how do you get it to people in an appropriate amount of time and a window that is good for them,” said Steven Kramer, chief executive officer of WorkJam in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
One invaluable answer to this equation is the rise of mobile broadband access, which works directly with stores to offer curbside pickups for goods.
And while the need is indeed rising, some grocers are instead looking to enhance in-store experience.
“Ninety-five percent (of shopping) is still happening in the store. There’s a race right now to remain relevant because the number of options available to consumers have increased significantly,” said Kramer.