New Non-Stop Travel from Chicago to Chengdu, China

Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently announced the launch of a non-stop direct flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Chengdu, China. This is the first non-stop direct flight from an interior US city to an interior Chinese city. The inclusion of this direct flight indicates the strong business relationship between Chicago and China, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Mayor Lightfoot indicated that the inclusion of this flight may bring at least $35 Million in revenue as an overall impact within the Chicago region. The new flight service is being offered by Hainan Airlines. Hainan Airlines is a well-known Chinese airline. It is currently the fourth largest Chinese commercial airlines and has been flying extensive routes throughout the world. They are currently operating 500 international and domestic routes to over 90 destinations. Other US cities that are serviced by Hainan Airlines include San Jose and Boston. Hainan Airlines has been offering a non-stop flight from Chicago to Beijing since 2014. The new service from Chicago to Chengdu will be offered twice a week. Flights will be offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The non-stop flight time heading eastbound is estimated to be 16 hours, and is westbound is estimated at nearly 15 hours.

The Mayor applauded the new flight service and indicated that it is a natural service offering as more international travelers are frequenting the Chicago-area. In addition, Mayor Lightfoot indicated that an increase in travelers and new flight routes will be complemented by the current and upcoming upgrades to O’Hare Airport’s infrastructure and facilities, says Gaurav Mohindra.

The upgrades are part of an $8.5 billion modernization plan being spearheaded by the City of Chicago to upgrade existing facilities, provide new passenger gates, and expand the terminal. Chicago is one of the busiest airports in the US and one of the most connected in the world. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is also one of the busiest hubs for transporting cargo to and from China, says Gaurav Mohindra. Currently, 25 percent of all cargo transported from China moved through O’Hare International Airport.

As the US and China business relations grow, having additional transit routes is important. China and the US are the largest economies in the world. Last year, the US imported over $530 Billion in Chinese goods and exported $120 Billion in goods to China. Having sufficient infrastructure to support this relationship is key to growing the relationship over the years.

O’Hare International Airport

The Chicago Department of Aviation recently announced that they are continuing an ongoing program to use grazing animals to help control the wild vegetation that is growing near O’Hare International Airport. The grazing will take place on nearly 12 acres of land adjacent to the airport. There will be 30 animals, including goats, sheep, and a donkey. The grazing program, called the Sustainable Vegetation Initiative, has been going on for six years as part of an effort to provide sustainable environmentally friendly initiatives throughout the airport, says Gaurav Mohindra. This initiative is the first of its kind in any US airport.

Previous seasons of the initiative have included grazing animals such as herds of sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, burros, and donkeys. The initiative has helped maintain green space near runways and on adjacent parcels of land surrounding O’Hare International Airport. The grazing herd provides a safe eco-friendly solution around the airport.

Seeing goats and sheep around O’Hare may raise some eyebrows, but herds of grazing animals have become an innovative solution to maintain healthy ecological environments in an environmentally friendly manner, says Gaurav Mohindra. A variety of animals have been leveraged in grazing hers. Animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, and goats can be included in such grazing herds.

The type of animal used for grazing can depend depending on the environment and vegetation of the area. Also, the size and weight of the animal is key to protect the soil compaction of the ground. Typically, Horses clip grasses off the ground. But, they are heavier animals which may result in more soil compaction. Cattle, which are even heavier than horses, consume large amounts of vegetation including grass, but they can’t clip the vegetation as low as horses. Sheep and goats are effective at clipping vegetation on steeper grounds.

There are numerous benefits in leveraging grazing herds in urban areas, particularly around airports. The herds will reduce the natural vegetation that can creep into runways. This vegetation, if left untreated, may pose an impact to planes on takeoff and landings. In addition, grazing herds do not cause pollution that traditional mowers and equipment causes. Using the grazing herds also provides motivation for other urban environments to adopt similar sustainability measures.

In 2013 the Sustainable Vegetation Management initiative was launched at O’Hare International Airport. It quickly became a beacon for other airports to aspire towards. The sustainability practices include providing green space on rooftops, environmentally friends utensils for eating and drinking, the grazing program, amongst others. As O’Hare continues with its several billion-dollar large facilities overhauls, hopefully, more ecologically friends initiatives are introduced, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Traverse City – A Quick Trip from Chicago

Ready for summer vacation?  Traverse City, Michigan is a short 5-hour drive from Chicago – and is the perfect place for a quick getaway from the city.

The fact that Traverse City is an easy drive, and one can avoid a flight, is a big consideration for families, says Gaurav Mohindra.  Traverse City offers great beaches and dunes.  Sleeping Bear Dunes provides a fun activity for families and provides scenic landscapes overlooking Glen Lake.  In the summertime, Traverse City provides vast dining and entertainment options.  One of the more popular options is the National Cherry Festival.  Northern Michigan is home to many cherry orchards – and the fruit is celebrated throughout the region.

Chicago

Traverse City is close to Lake Michigan and provides miles and miles of beaches.  The lake is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the beaches or go sailing.  There are many fishing operators and tour guides in the area too.  In addition, there are numerous hiking and bike trails to take advantage of during the summer seasons, says Gaurav Mohindra.

Traverse City is also home to numerous craft breweries that are getting international attention.  There are numerous brewery tours which showcase local beers, which are often made with local ingredients.

Kayaking is also a big attraction in the area.  The Crystal River is a popular kayaking destination – and provides a scenic backdrop through parts of a national forest for kayakers to meander through.

Traverse City is considered the unofficial capital of northern Michigan.  The city has the largest population, and a vast array of restaurants, hotels, and cultural events.  As for the restaurants, there are a wide variety.  According to TripAdvisor, some of the most popular restaurants in Traverse City are Trattoria Stella, The Boathouse, Red Ginger, PepeNero, Mission Table, Slate, and Cook’s house.  When dining at certain restaurants one will find that chefs often take advantage of the excellent local ingredients available from the area. 

In light of Traverse City’s proximity to Lake Michigan, there are numerous old lighthouses situated along the shoreline.  These charming lighthouses are fun to check out.  Another popular hangout is the Village at Grand Traverse Commons.  The Commons are an old converted hospital that now includes shops, restaurants, and event space.  It truly blends old-world charm with modern vitality, says Gaurav Mohindra.

As you can see Traverse City is a short trip from Chicago and a great place for a visit – especially in Summer.

Illinois Passes Bill to Legalize Marijuana

On Tuesday, June 25, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that will legalize marijuana in the state. The passage of this bill was a key campaign message promoted by Pritzker throughout his campaign, says Gaurav Mohindra.

The new law will permit adults, aged 21 or older, to possess and consume marijuana within the state. The law also regulates how the marijuana will be sold and ensure that vendors are licensed by the state. Pritzker strongly advocated for the legalization of marijuana as an opportunity to empower communities negatively affected by criminal convictions related to the drug possession and sale.

The new law will be effective as of January 1, 2020. With the passage of the bill, Illinois becomes the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Other states with legal recreational marijuana are Alaska, California, Colorado, Main, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont. When signing the bill into law, Prizker made it a point to emphasize that Illinois was the only state to legalize recreational marijuana through the legislature rather than voter referendum.

The new law provides the automatic expungement of arrests for marijuana possession under 30 grams, says Gaurav Mohindra. Pritzker indicated that he will pardon convictions for possession up to 30 grams. However, people can seek expungement of cases involving up to 500 grams.

Legalize Marijuana

The new law stipulates that 25% of the revenue from marijuana taxes will go to marijuana business ownership in minority communities. Many of these communities were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, says Gaurav Mohindra. The new law will also direct 20% of marijuana tax revenue towards substance abuse treatment and prevention and mental health care. And additional funds will be allocated towards Illinois’ bills, law enforcement and public education on marijuana related health issues.

The bill was introduced into the Illinois state General Assembly and was overwhelmingly passed. It will allow Illinois residents to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana flower, 500 milligrams of THC in a marijuana-infused product such as edibles and 5 grams of marijuana concentrate. Non-Illinois visitors may possess up to half those amounts.

Only state-licensed businesses will be allowed to grow, process or sell the product. An important part of the plan calls for special consideration in licensing for social equity applicants. Social equity applicants include business owners and workers from disadvantaged minority areas, or those who were arrested for or convicted of misdemeanor marijuana crimes that are due to be expunged under the plan.