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April 8, 2016

Farm distilleries represent a fraction of the marketplace. At most, 200 farm distilleries dot the country-side, says Bill Owens, founder and president of the American Distilling Institute, a trade organization for craft distillers, including Whiskey Acres of Dekalb. Yet the number stood at zero a decade ago. “It’s not a big industry, but for farmers who are tired of selling their grain to the elevator and getting pennies, farm distilling is a real opportunity,” Owens says. The explosive growth of the industry is creating new grain markets for farmers ready to connect with local distillers and brewers.

Funding for Education
Considering higher education funding as an investment that lowers state welfare and prison costs, generates tax revenues and leads to economic growth in the future – and not as mere consumption spending – could reframe the debate around funding for higher education, according to an article by Walter W. McMahon, a University of Illinois expert in the economics of education. McMahon concluded that public education in Illinois contributes to investment returns of 9.5 percent for K-12; 15.3 percent for community college; and 13.4 percent for university, respectively, for every dollar that’s spent – returns that are well above the 7.2 percent the money would have earned if invested in an index fund that tracked returns of the S&P 500, McMahon noted.

Federal Dollars to Address Blighted Housing
The Illinois Housing Development Authority has an additional $10.5 million to invest in communities across Illinois to clear blight, restore property prices and stabilize neighborhoods. Municipalities partner with a local non-profit to identity abandoned properties causing blight for demolition. Once a property has been demolished, municipalities are reimbursed at a maximum of $35,000 per unit. Eligible expenses include acquisition, closing costs, demolition, and lot treatment.

April 21, 2016 - Summary: Task Force on Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates - webinar

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