An electric aircraft with six propellors on top.Continuing its commitment to technological innovation, the city of Chicago plans to offer its first air taxi route between O’Hare International Airport and Vertiport Chicago in 2025. The announcement from Archer Aviation Inc. and United Airlines calls the method of transportation a “safe, sustainable, low noise and cost-competitive alternative to ground transportation.”

Vertiport Chicago, which is North America’s largest vertical aircraft takeoff and landing facility, is located near the Chicago Loop and was selected for its convenient and accessible location. From there, passengers will be able to travel via aircraft to and from O’Hare in about 10 minutes — saving a significant amount of time that is often spent stuck in the city’s rush hour traffic.

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datacenterData centers are grand physical locations with hundreds of computers, machines and other hardware that store the data we use every day. Data centers have been expanding around the world as we become more dependent on cloud and data storage. 

As a result of a 2019 data center investment program, Illinois has served as one of the best data center markets in the nation and now ranks fifth in the world for data centers. These centers have rejuvenated the Chicago-area cloud system and attracted more than $4.2 billion in new investments to the state.

The 2019 program was a tax incentive plan designed to jump-start data center development in Illinois. The centers would receive exemptions from state and local sales taxes on data center equipment for 10 years if they invested a minimum of $250 million in the facility and created at least 20 high-paying full-time jobs. A study by Mangum Economics shows that the program drew 13 data center projects to the state, creating more than 8,000 jobs.

With the success of this program, Illinois is now the fifth best place in the world for data centers, cementing our place as one of the forerunners in cloud storage and the technology of the future.

vending machineA new vending machine found in Springfield’s Phoenix Center is a little different from the food and drink machines you are used to. This vending machine is the first of its kind in Illinois and provides harm reduction materials like needles, fentanyl strips and narcan at no cost.

The machine is the newest service available as part of the Springfield Harm Reduction Initiative. The Phoenix Center, which has provided harm reduction services in the Springfield area for 12 years, hopes to decrease the number of HIV and hepatitis cases by providing safe materials for those struggling with drug addiction. Anyone can utilize this machine at any time to help keep themselves safe or someone they know who is struggling.

The vending machine also provides free feminine hygiene products, food and other supplies to those who need them.

The Phoenix Center hopes to expand similar harm reduction programs into the rural counties of Illinois as well, citing the importance of safe, clean supplies in reducing disease and fatal overdoses.

Employees have a discussion while sitting at a table with papers.A new report ranks Illinois the number one state for workforce development in the East North Central region for 2022.

The ranking, announced by Site Selection magazine, highlights Illinois’ continued job and economic growth, innovative workforce programs and employment services. The state’s ranking improved from number two in 2021.

Combining information from CNBC, U.S. News and other organizations, the ranking recognizes “states that performed well in a set of measures that gauge workforce-related aspects of states’ overall employment climate.”

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Rivian 20The Illinois’ Manufacturers Association has begun its fourth annual Makers Madness Contest, a state-wide tournament where the public can vote for their favorite product made in Illinois.

The contest consists of a bracket styled tournament, which begins with a public nomination period that ends Feb. 19. Once nominations are complete, voters will be able to select their 16 favorite products, which will go head-to-head until a winner is decided.

Last year’s winner was Normal Illinois’ very own all-electric truck, the Rivian R1T. The truck received the majority of over 200,000 votes last year, winning the title of “Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.” Rivian Automotive is based in Normal, and have produced over 14,000 electric vehicles since they opened their doors.

Nominations are accepted through Feb. 19. The winner will be announced on March 29.

People can nominate a product here

2023 Schedule:
Nominations Accepted: February 2 – 19
Nomination Voting: February 21 – March 5
First Round (Top 16): March 7 – 12
Second Round (Top 8): March 14 – 19
Final Round (Top 4): March 21 – 26
Winner Announced: March 29