News for March, 2011
Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villagairosa was in D.C. Wednesday, along with the heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO—two groups that don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on most things—to promote an innovative local-federal financing plan that would allow communities to build new transit infrastructure much faster than usual—say, 10 years instead of 30. In a recent essay about rising gas prices and what we need to do to protect ourselves, our economy and the planet, CNT’s president Scott Bernstein pointed to Mayor Villagairosa’s plan as a long-term strategy we need to pursue.
In that same essay, he laid out several short-term strategies that are ready to go right now to avoid pain at the pump this summer and into the future. Read the full article here.
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
In three short weeks, 87 companies have enrolled in the Transit Ridership Improvement Program (TRIP), which gives Cook County employers up to $1,700 for enrolling their employees in a pre-tax transit benefit program. So far, the program has extended pre-tax benefits to an estimated 800 commuters, who can save between 30 percent and 40 percent on their commuting costs by purchasing transit fares before taxes.
Companies large and small are eligible. CNT has enrolled firms with as few as 1 employee to as many as 1,800. 56 companies are entirely new to pre-tax transit benefits, while 31 are taking advantage of the incentive by enrolling more employees. There’s still time to sign up for this incentive program, but no time is better than right now. Read more »
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
CHICAGO (March 30, 2011)— In three short weeks, 87 companies have enrolled in the Transit Ridership Improvement Program (TRIP), which gives Cook County employers up to $1,700 for enrolling their employees in a pre-tax transit benefit program. So far, the program has extended pre-tax benefits to an estimated 800 commuters, who can save between 30 percent and 40 percent on their commuting costs by purchasing transit fares before taxes.
Companies large and small are eligible. The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), which is administering the program in coordination with the Cook County Department of Environmental Control and the Regional Transportation Authority, has enrolled firms with as few as one employee to as many as 1,800. Fifty-six companies are entirely new to pre-tax transit benefits, while 31 are taking advantage of the incentive by enrolling more employees.
There’s still time to sign up for this incentive program, but no time is better than right now.
Employers can offer a pre-tax benefit program at any time, but only through TRIP can they receive incentive money for doing so. Funds for the incentives are limited and will be disbursed on a first come, first serve basis.
And, as CNT Vice President of Policy Jacky Grimshaw puts it: “We’ve just experienced the fastest ever two-week increase in gas prices at a time when households are struggling to make ends meet. Families are pinching pennies wherever they can, and signing up for pre-tax transit benefits is a winner for commuters, it’s a winner for employers, and it’s a winner for the environment.”
“Pre-tax transit programs are a major benefit to employers and employees alike,” said Jerry Roper, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. “Transit is one of our competitive edges here in Chicago because it allows us to move one million people to and from work efficiently. Tax-free transit encourages increased ridership, and today more than ever, transit is important to keeping our economy moving.”
To learn more about this incentive program, visit www.lesstaxingcommute.com or contact Emily Robinson at 773.269.4043 or email@example.com.
Founded in 1978, CNT is a Chicago-based think-and-do tank that works nationally to advance urban sustainability by researching, inventing and testing strategies that use resources more efficiently and equitably. Its programs focus on climate, energy, natural resources, transportation, and community development. CNT is one of eight nonprofits selected from around the world to be recognized by a 2009 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Visit www.cnt.org for more information.
Monday, March 28th, 2011
Many of the towns comprising Chicago’s south suburbs have suffered years of economic hardship and diminishing revenues necessary to attract and retain businesses and adequately serve residents. However, these communities possess abundant rail assets and a resilient industrial base that can be leveraged to attract new industrial businesses, remediate environmentally contaminated properties, and improve connections between housing and jobs. Read more »
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Chicago is once again near the top of the list of U.S. cities with the most Energy Star® certified buildings, taking 4th place with 232 Energy Star buildings. The number of Energy Star buildings in Chicago increased by 73 percent, from 134 to 232, between 2009 and 2010 and Chicago’s ranking has improved each year since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began publishing this list, up from 5th place in 2009 and 6th place in 2008.
“It is encouraging that the number of energy efficient buildings in Chicago continues to increase and we expect this trend continues and hope that Chicago is soon at the top of the list” says Anne Evens, Executive Director of CNT Energy. Read more »
Monday, March 21st, 2011
How can we protect households and communities from the impact of higher gas prices? What can local officials do avoid the brunt of high gas prices and reduce the cost of living this year?
In today’s Planetizen, CNT’s President Scott Bernstein says that the most effective solution is to reduce the demand by creating “location-efficient” communities. In 2008, when gas prices hovered around $4, our research showed that households in “location-efficient” communities were less vulnerable to the gas spike. Residents of the most location efficient communities—cities and suburbs served by transit—were able to hold down their costs partly by increasing their use of public transit, and in fact those places saw the greatest increases in transit ridership. Communities with poor transit access had the lowest increases (or even declines) in transit use over that period. Read more »
Thursday, March 17th, 2011
CNT and the North Side Community Federal Credit Union recently sponsored a two-day “train the trainer” program for financial counselors to reduce their clients’ household expenses and environmental impact. As part of CNT’s Equity Express program, the workshop illustrated that economic and environmental sustainability go hand in hand. Read more »
Thursday, March 17th, 2011
CHICAGO (March 17, 2011)—The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and the North Side Community Federal Credit Union recently sponsored a two-day “train the trainer” program for financial counselors to reduce their clients’ household expenses and environmental impact. The program, Equity Express, illustrates that economic and environmental sustainability go hand in hand.
“Despite the popular belief that living ‘green’ is only possible for upper-income households, CNT has consistently found in its research and programs that sustainable practices significantly decrease household expenditures on utility bills, transportation costs, and telecommunications services, to name a few,” said Steve Perkins, senior vice president at CNT. “Households can use sustainable practices to help them save towards goals like homeownership and higher education, while also reducing their environmental impacts. Equity Express shows them how.”
The 13 representatives from nine financial education and homeowner counseling organizations that attended the training can now use Equity Express to show their clients—often low- and moderate-income individuals—how making smart decisions about money has positive impacts for them and the earth. Previous Equity Express Workshop participants in the San Francisco Bay Area have decreased expenses from $20 to $200 per month.
“Our mission at the North Side Community Federal Credit Union is to provide affordable, alternative financial products and services to the community,” said Kristen Cox, Marketing and Community Relations Manager at the North Side Community Federal Credit Union. “We believe Equity Express will add depth to our financial literacy curriculum by providing a participatory and supportive, ongoing six-week class environment in which members learn from each other what best behavioral strategies really work.
Participants were enthusiastic about the training, many finding ways to reduce their own expenses, as well as finding material for their clients. Most reported that they planned on incorporating the curriculum and offering workshops within the next six months.
“It was really life transforming in a lot of respects. I’ve started paying attention to setting financial goals and waste,” said Patricia Abrams, Executive Director at The Renaissance Collaborative, who attended the workshop. “It will help us educate our clients to see a direct link between what they’re doing, how they’re being or not being, and how that impacts what’s possible.”
In attendance were representatives from: Claretian Associates, Chicago Commons, Enlace Chicago, Humboldt Park Social Services, Instituto Del Progreso Latino, Jane Addams Resource Corporation, Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, North Side Community Federal Credit Union, and the Renaissance Collaborative.
Founded in 1978, CNT is a Chicago-based think-and-do tank that works nationally to advance urban sustainability by researching, inventing and testing strategies that use resources more efficiently and equitably. Its programs focus on climate, energy, natural resources, transportation, and community development. Visit www.cnt.org for more information.
North Side Community FCU is a 36-year old, member-owned, cooperative, certified community development credit union and HUD-certified housing counseling agency located in Uptown. The credit union serves 3,200 members, partners with 50 Select Employee Group and community groups, holds more than $10.5 million in assets and has a low-income service designation from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). www.northsidecommunityfcu.org
Thursday, March 17th, 2011
Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has selected CNT’s Kathy Tholin and Jacky Grimshaw to participate on two transition teams that will help shape his administration’s policies around sustainability, energy, and transportation.
CNT Chief Executive Officer Kathy Tholin will bring her 30+ years of experience promoting sustainable policies to the Energy, Environment, and Public Space Committee. Jacky Grimshaw, CNT’s Vice President for Policy, will put her experience in public policy advocacy, transportation research and community economic development to use on Emmanuel’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Jacky is also a board member of the Chicago Transit Authority. Read more »