DuquoinCorn dogs, cotton candy, ferris wheels and carnival games. Nothing brings out fond memories like the smell of fried food and shouts of joy at local state fairs. The Du Quoin State Fair recently had its 100th annual fair, with attendance levels reaching an all-time high in the fair’s history. This marks a historic occasion for the fair, having its centennial anniversary coincide with record attendance. Over 170,000 people attended the Du Quoin State Fair this year, which was a 13.5% increase from attendance in 2021. Attendance in 2021 was 150,186 people. 2022 is the third year in a row that the fair has seen a steady increase in attendance numbers. The Du Quoin State Fair is growing in notoriety, which is a welcome benefit to the residents and businesses of the city. The Du Quoin State Fair this year generated over $320,000 in profit.

In addition to games and food, the fair also had a number of live music shows. Du Quoin was host to seven concert performances, which drew in over 11,500 people. One such artist was Cole Swindell, a country artists, who had over 3,500 tickets sold for his performance. Swindell’s performance was the fourth largest attended show in the Du Quoin State Fair’s history since 2012. It was lucky Swindell’s performance was so popular, as the fair had an unfortunate last-minute cancellation from country artist Randy House this year, making the grandstand stage to sit empty for the first times in years.

Despite that hiccup, this year’s Du Quoin State Fair was still a raging success filled with plenty of fun times for families and individuals. If anyone wants to add to the growing number of attendees to this famous and enjoyable State Fair, the 2023 Du Quoin State Fair will run Aug. 25 – Sept. 4.

Manufacturing-Matters-Illinois-led-the-nation-in-new-manufacturing-job-growthIllinois created more new manufacturing jobs in July than any other state, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The news came on the heels of the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s announcement last month that the statewide unemployment rate continues to drop, ending July with slightly lower unemployment than in June. Non-farm industries added more than 31,000 Illinois jobs in July, including 6,300 in manufacturing – more than any other state during the same time period.

Manufacturing is the state’s largest industry by contribution to state GDP, but also to local economies’ growth. For example, manufacturing occupations in Rock Island County, which borders the Mississippi River on Illinois’ western border, generate almost $5 billion in total annual economic output for the county through three major manufacturing subsectors: farm machinery and equipment manufacturing, fluid milk manufacturing, and meat processing.

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A study conducted by the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina found the Illinois manufacturing industry brings in over $580 billion a year and supplies 30% of jobs in Illinois. The Quad Cities feel the impact of the manufacturing industry the most with it producing $6 billion in revenue. Manufacturing jobs make up 19% of the economy in Rock Island and Henry County, and makes up 28% of the economy in Mercer County.

The manufacturing industry is the largest industry in Illinois in terms of Gross Domestic Product, as it supplies over 1.7 million jobs statewide and produces $150 billion in labor income each year. Statewide, the manufacturing industry supports 30% of jobs in Illinois. Regionally, the manufacturing industry supplies 13,050 jobs in Rock Island County, and 16,484 jobs in the Illinois Quad Cities and surrounding areas. 

“An important takeaway from this study is the sheer size of manufacturing’s economic presence in Illinois,” said research economist Joseph C. Von Nessen. “Every job created by a manufacturer spurs additional hiring and spending across multiple industries in the state.” 

james webb space telescopeA Northwestern University professor will soon get a chance to monitor a part of the sky for a project studying ‘adolescent galaxies’ using the James Webb Space Telescope.

Allison Strom, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University, will use the telescope – which originally launched on Dec. 25, 2021 – to harvest data for 40 hours before her team will begin analyzing the results.

They’re using the telescope’s pioneering abilities to study the chemistry of galaxies so distant, they haven’t been explored yet. Strom and her team are hopeful that the data will demystify the process of galaxy formation, especially in the context of the early universe.

While the Northwestern team eagerly awaits use of the Webb, another Illinois astronomer’s project is fully underway. Jacob Bean, professor of astronomy at the University of Chicago, is co-leading a team of more than 100 scientists whose project just finished using the new probe to collect exoplanet data. His team will review the data for information about the composition, temperature and potential habitability of exoplanets, which may provide new insights into solar systems beyond our own.

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Bird's eye view of the Interstate 74 bridge over the Mississippi River. Each year, state transportation projects are celebrated and recognized through America's Transportation Awards – and an Illinois bridge came home as a winner. The awards recognize America's best transportation projects – those that prioritize safety, maximize accessibility, utilize resources effectively and incorporate innovative elements such as green space, bike paths, technology and access to public transit.

Last month, judges for the 2022 Midwest Region awards announced that the Interstate 74 Corridor Project, which connects Iowa to Illinois via a multi-use bridge over the Mississippi River, won top honors in the Quality of Life and Community Development category.

For this project, the Illinois and Iowa Departments of Transportation teamed up to take on the task of upgrading the 86-year-old bridge, which was in need of repair. The project was completed and fully opened to traffic on Dec. 2, 2021, and now carries nearly half of all traffic in the Quad Cities region. It was the biggest construction project in the cities' history, with a budget of $981 million.

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