Can you imagine a thriving medical-tech center in the far South Side Roseland neighborhood or wind turbines in Lake Michigan generating electricity?
Don't look now, but two overlooked new state laws could push these seemingly wildly optimistic ideas into reality.
Call me optimistic, but I believe government programs can seed the kinds of innovative jobs that everyone so desperately wants, and in neighborhoods that most desperately need them.
Two new state laws got me excited because they aim to do just that, and remained buried in news obscurity until now.
Here are the dreams:
** A medical district in the Roseland neighborhood, patterned after the three medical districts that already operate near UIC and in Springfield and East St. Louis. A new state law that Gov. Quinn signed on Aug. 5 creates a commission to come up with a plan to attract high-tech businesses, medical research facilities and academic institutions to the area.
The district's boundaries are West 110th Street to the north; South Stewart Avenue to the west; South Michigan Avenue to the east, and 112th Street, east and west, to the south.
** Wind-power turbines operating in Lake Michigan. A law that Quinn signed Aug. 7 creates the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Energy Advisory Council within the state Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to review the potential for offshore wind energy projects in the waters of Lake Michigan.
I know through my daily technology reporting (see http://www.suntimes.com/business/6579271-420/feds-award-4.5-million-to-community-lenders and suntimes.com/technology/guy/4717741-452/invenergy-ge-plan-innovative-solar-farm-in-illinois.html) that community and non-profit groups in Chicago's needy neighborhoods who would love to see more businesses jump into these programs. Local non-profits lenders include IFF, the Chicago Community Loan Fund and the Illinois Service Federal Savings and Loan Association .