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John Carlisle, Economic Development

View John's paper (co-authored with Jane Wilberding) "Biennial State Industry Employment Forecasts: Chemical Manufacturing and Administrative and Support Services". The paper was produced for the required economic development specialization course, UPP 530.

What is your academic and work background? What did you do before enrolling in the MUPP program at UIC?

I have a bachelor’s degree in English-Professional Writing from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. I worked as an editor and online community manager for a trade publisher that covered various specific niche industries such as self-storage and garage door sales. Though these industries may not seem related to planning, they are influenced by planning and development issues such as real estate market trends, development finance, land use law, and zoning. These exposures whet my appetite for planning, along with a desire to revive struggling communities.

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What attracted you to planning and made you decide you wanted to be a planner?

I realized in young adulthood that where I’m “from” (I grew up in Ohio, moved to Arizona, and now live in Chicagoland) is a big part of who I am. My identity is strongly tied to place, and I think a lot of people are wired the same way. Planners are in the business of creating good places, so if you succeed in planning and implementation, you succeed at making people’s lives better.

In addition, from social and environmental sustainability standpoints, I think regions can benefit from more walkable, less auto-dependent patterns of development. Society needs planners to advocate for this concept.

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Why did you want to study planning at UIC?

Both the city of Chicago and its suburbs are a fascinating backdrop for studying planning and policy. When you consider the history (railroads, the Great Fire, Daniel Burnham, skyscrapers, Riverside and Frederick Law Olmsted) and the present or near future (brownfield reuse and revitalization, tax-increment financing, bus rapid transit, bike sharing), few places can offer as many nearby learning opportunities.

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What are some of the highlights of your time as a student--classes, projects, internships, volunteer involvement?

Working in a team to develop a creative revitalization plan for the industrial corridor in the near Southwest Side and the Pilsen neighborhood.

Developing a “complete streets” plan for a stretch of Clark Street in Lincoln Park to accommodate bus riders, pedestrians, disabled users and bicyclists better.

Interning with the Village of Glen Ellyn and being part of the effort to enhance a commercial corridor through tax-increment financing while still preserving affordable housing.

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Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself working with a consulting group that takes on a wide range of topical projects and serves both the public and private sectors. The long-range goal is to start my own consulting firm, taking on major cities and their leaders as clients.

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