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Illinois Department of Employment Security, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The unemployment rate in many northern Illinois counties fell from last year. 

Rockford’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent last month -- down from 7.4 percent in November 2015. That’s according to preliminary figures released last week by the Illinois employment security department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Amazon.com

Online retailer Amazon.com said Tuesday it plans to open two new fulfillment centers, employing more than 1,000 people full-time between them, in Aurora, Ill. 

Officials say one of the new facilities will focus on smaller items, such as books and small electronics, and the other will handle large items like big-screen TVs. 

Great Lakes Basin Transportation / greatlakesbasin.net

What’s the Great Lakes Basin Railroad and why should I care?

The GLBR is a proposed railway that, if you live in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, or northwest Indiana, you’ve either never heard of or have spent a lot of time learning about over the last year.

Under the current route proposal, the Great Lakes Basin Railroad would enter Kankakee County, Illinois, just below the Will County line, traveling west-southwest to enter Grundy County a couple of miles above its southern boundary.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Over the past year, through three iterations of route proposals, many landowners were outraged when they learned their homes and farms were in the path of a railroad that would divert freight traffic around the Chicago area. They took that anger to a series of sometimes raucous public hearings.

But it’s easy to lose sight of the individuals in a crowd. This isn’t just a gang of rabble-rousers; these are real people. So we met with opponents of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad on their own turf: turf that the rail company would like to sink its tracks into.

Milken Institute

The Rockford area moved up substantially in a nationwide ranking of the cities released Wednesday.

The 2016 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index rated the Rockford area 125th among 200 large metropolitan areas. Last year the city was rated 176th. The index cited growth in short-term jobs, as well as in high-tech jobs, like those at aircraft component maker Woodward, Inc. The institute also looks at capital investment and other factors.

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