This electronic newsletter is an opportunity for you to learn more about what we’ve accomplished in Illinois government, and how you can get involved. Whether it’s volunteering in a Serve Illinois volunteer project, receiving state services, or learning about new laws and programs, I want to ensure that you know what’s happening in your government.
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Drop in Unemployment
On March 1, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (DES) announced that Illinois added 3,800 jobs in January, causing the unemployment rate to drop to just 9.4 percent. Since January 2010, Illinois has added more than 122,000 private sector jobs after 23 months of consecutive declines. The -0.3 percent unemployment rate drop marks the largest employment increase since September 1992.
State Tax Refunds
On March 1, the Illinois Department of Revenue (DOR) announced that electronic filing system participation has increased by more than 10.5 percent over last year. By e-filing and using direct deposit for refunds, processing costs are reduced while ensuring better service for taxpayers and quicker processing for refund payments. Taxpayers can file by using Webfile, tax professionals, and tax preparation packages. Electronic filing is fast, easy, and environmentally friendly. Taxes are due in Illinois on April 17.
Top-Ranked Business Climate
On March 1, Governor Quinn announced that Illinois and Chicago have been named among the top 10 locations for new and expanded corporate facilities. This year, Illinois ranked seventh, a step up from last year's eighth place rank while Chicago was ranked second for Metropolitan areas. Since 2011, 216 corporate facilities have relocated or expanded in Illinois. Since taking office, Governor Quinn has been working aggressively towards job creation and expanding trade world-wide.
On March 5, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that Illinois campers can now make reservations online for the upcoming camping season. Campsites, cabins, group campsites, and shelters are available throughout Illinois in one of its 67 scenic State Parks and other DNR sites. The reservations, made through Reserve America reservation system, require a $5 non-refundable deposit on single and group campsites. For more information on camping fees, visit www.dnr.state.il.us. To reserve your camping spot, visit www.reserveamerica.com.
Economic Interest in Canada
On March 5, Governor Quinn visited Canada to discuss economic development to promote Illinois’ trade and business opportunities, tourism, and life science industries. This visit marked the first trade-oriented visit by any Illinois governor to Canada in over a decade as Governor Quinn continues to strengthen relationships with Illinois’ key trading partners. Governor Quinn opened the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association trade show in which 10 Illinois exhibitors took part. Canada is Illinois’ leading export destination and received more than $19.17 billion of Illinois exports in 2011. For more information, visit www.illinoisbiz.biz.
Wind Manufacturing Job Creation
On March 6, Governor Quinn announced an agreement between Rock Island Clean Line LCC and Flora, Illinois-based Southwire Company. The companies will manufacture wind turbines and transmissions while creating 1,450 union construction jobs over a three year construction period. This agreement marks another achievement as Governor Quinn works to continue his commitment to renewable energy and job creation.
Rockford Airport Expansion
On March 8, Governor Quinn continued his efforts to support economic growth in the aviation industry. The Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) will receive $1 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding to help expand parking capabilities. RFD is currently one of the United States’ top cargo airports. In 2011 alone, passenger traffic increased over 15% and is expected to continue increasing throughout 2012. RFD is also the largest parcel-sorting facility in the United Parcel System (UPS) and the only facility of its kind to handle coast-to-coast cargo.
On March 10 through 18, Illinois celebrated AmeriCorps Week. Governor Quinn proclaimed the week in honor of all Illinois residents who serve others through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. AmeriCorps is devoted to “Getting Things Done” and this year’s AmeriCorps Week theme is “AmeriCorps Works.” AmeriCorps participants took part in performing service projects, spreading the word about AmeriCorps, thanking community supporters and partners, and recruiting more individuals into service. To get involved, visit www.serve.illinois.gov.
Illinois Energy Now Trade Ally Program
On March 9, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) State Energy Office announced the Illinois Energy Now Trade Ally Program to further energy efficiency efforts in Illinois. The new Trade Ally program will help forge partnerships between trade allies and their public sector clients to provide more energy efficient building solutions that will result in increased energy savings in schools, municipality buildings and government facilities. Trade allies are general contractors, lighting contractors, HVAC contractors, engineers, architects, energy service companies, and energy-saving product wholesalers, distributors, and retailers trained in the Illinois Energy Now program. By working together, Illinois will deliver more energy efficient building solutions to public sector clients such as schools, municipal buildings, and government facilities.
Federal Approval of Illinois Coastal Management Program
On March 9, Governor Quinn was joined by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at a signing ceremony celebrating approval of the Illinois Coastal Management Program (ICMP). The ICMP made Illinois one of 34 states and U.S. territories providing management of coastal resources for sustainable development and protection of more than 95,000 miles of ocean and Great Lakes shorelines. Under ICMP, Illinois will focus efforts on developing sustainable solutions. The Illinois coast extends along 63 miles of the Lake Michigan shore and is one of the most densely populated coastal areas in the Great Lakes Region. Federal Approval of the ICMP makes Illinois eligible to receive approximately $2 million in annual federal funding to assist with the program implementation. For more information, visit www.dnr.state.il.us.
Steve Harvey Comes to Chicago
On March 12, Governor Quinn announced the new NBC production, “Steve Harvey,” will be filmed in downtown Chicago. The daily show is expected to create 100 jobs. NBCUniversal estimates that the show should bring approximately 35,000 audience members and visitors to Chicago each year. “Steve Harvey” debuts this fall on NBC and will cover a variety of topics. NBCUniversal estimates that production will bring millions of dollars to Chicago-area merchants and businesses.
Capital Funding for City Colleges of Chicago
On March 13, Governor Quinn was joined by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Cheryl Hyman in announcing $31.6 million from Illinois Jobs Now! The capital construction program will fund the creation of a new Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL) Center at Olive-Harvey College. The facility will be the first comprehensive TDL education center in the state. The facility will prepare students for work in transportation logistics, automotive technology, avionics, and applied engineering. This marks another success for Governor Pat Quinn as he continues to push for an increase in high-tech jobs in Illinois.
On April 23 through 27, Illinois will be celebrating Playground Safety Week. As summer approaches, childcare providers, parents, and guardians are asked to adhere to the SAFE method which consists of providing proper Supervision, Age appropriate equipment, materials to soften Falls to the surface, and Equipment maintenance. Playgrounds allow Illinois’ youngest generation to enjoy the outdoors while being able to exercise and stay healthy. Governor Quinn and the State of Illinois are committed to ensuring that no child in Illinois plays on unsafe playgrounds.
5th Annual Film Short Competition
On March 1, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced the 2012 Shortcuts competition. Participants may use any format to tell a narrative story, documentary, or free from visual expression of ideas in fifteen minutes or less. Submissions will be accepted through August 31, 2012. For more information, visit www.illinoisfilm.biz.