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📦 Happy Wednesday! Today is National Package Protection Day. So set those booby traps and spend the whole day peeking out your window.

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🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Chicago members Cass Heckman and Dwain Thomas!

Today's newsletter is 918 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Pritzker's green pitch to EPA

Governor looks at new invention

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker examines an instrumental human tissue model for researching skin during a tour of a biotech facility in Chicago in October. Photo: Vincent D. Johnson for the Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois officials have crafted a billion-dollar pitch asking the Environmental Protection Agency to help with the state's transition to clean energy.

Why it matters: The state is looking to make climate-based infrastructure improvements as rising temperatures put it at risk of issues including extreme flooding in the coming years, as a new National Climate Assessment found.

The big picture: Pritzker is seeking federal funding to help modernize Illinois' energy sector while addressing environmental justice concerns from marginalized communities.

  • It's part of the governor's quest to make Illinois a leader in clean energy innovation, including through EV manufacturing.

Of note: According to Chicago-based commercial real estate firm JLL, Chicago is the nation's No. 2 market in EV manufacturing, trailing Atlanta.

Driving the news: The governor's public-private partnership Innovate Illinois — which Pritzker has used to secure all sorts of federal dollars in the energy sector, biotech industry and even quantum technology — is requesting federal grant money to aid in the state's effort to clean up industrial corridors and nearby neighborhoods.

  • The state would also set up a first-of-its-kind clean energy innovation hub, which would use data to help determine areas with higher pollution.
  • Innovate Illinois is collaborating with the Chicago-based National Community Investment Fund (NCIF) on the proposal, called "Rust Belts to Green Belts."
  • The EPA is expected to award grants in March.

What they're saying: "As long as I am governor, Illinois will continue to be at the forefront in the fight against climate change," Pritzker said in a statement.

What we're watching: Utility companies are looking to raise consumer prices in an effort to modernize their facilities to adapt to new clean energy technologies and to mitigate climate disasters.

  • "The standard we had in place for how to build a grid or structure of any kind needs to be re-evaluated, because it's not going to withstand the current conditions," West Monroe's Danny Freeman, who leads the consultant's energy and utility practice in the Midwest, tells Axios.

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2. ❄️ Chart of the day: Our winter forecast

Winter 2023-24 temperature outlook
Captions for both: Data: NOAA; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Now that our surprise cold front is over, you can take solace in weather predictions calling for a relatively warm winter, per a new NOAA seasonal outlook.

  • Forecasters predict we'll also get less snow.

The big picture: The combination of a strong El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean and record high global ocean temperatures are likely to shape the upcoming winter season in potentially unexpected ways, Axios Generate's Andrew Freedman writes.

Zoom out: Data suggest a higher-than-average likelihood of unusually mild temperatures across much of the Lower 48 states, particularly along the northern tier and into the Northeast, as well as in northern Alaska, per NOAA.

Winter 2023-24 precipitation outlook

The bottom line: We'll believe it when we don't see it.

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3. Meet Chicago's DNC host committee

Illustration of the Democratic party donkey logo, with the American flag-themed design changing to a Chicago flag.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Democratic National Convention is just nine months away and the Chicago host committee is staffing up.

What's happening: The committee announced this morning new senior staff members with experience across Chicago's Democratic political scene, including:

  • Maurice (Mo) Green, who's the new senior director of civic and community engagement. Green was most recently the political director for SEIU Local 73, and before that he worked in Pritzker's administration.
  • Natalie Edelstein is the new communications director. Edelstein joined Pritzker's communication staff for his 2022 reelection campaign.

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4. Tips and hot links

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

⛺️ Construction on the Brighton Park migrant base camp could start as early as today. (BlockClub)

💰 A new tool on Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas' website breaks down where your property tax money is going and which government bodies are taking more or less this year. Just enter your PIN or address, then click "Where your money goes."

🥅 The Blackhawks have terminated 19-year vet Corey Perry's contract, citing "unacceptable" conduct. (Sun-Times)

🛒 Specialty grocery stores Foxtrot and Dom's Kitchen announced they are merging. (Sun-Times)

Stay booked and busy

📅 Upcoming events around the city.

Winter Glow: Matinee at Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Dec. 2:

  • Featuring singers from all around the city harmonizing at the renowned Chicago Symphony Center, this concert will feature an enchanting mix of original songs, classical works, winter hits and music from around the world. $30.

Hosting an event? Email [email protected].

5. New recipe for the Banchet Awards

People on a stage

The latest batch of Jean Banchet Awards nominees gathered for a relaunch party Tuesday night. Photo: Monica Eng.

Jean Banchet Awards organizers served up fresh plans for the local culinary awards program last night.

Why it matters: Started in 2002, the Banchet Awards ceremony has, at times, lacked focus — feeling like part-medical fundraiser, part-awards show and part-loud gala.

What's happening: After a year's hiatus, organizers are relaunching the program with a narrowed mission of celebrating and supporting local culinary talent.

What's happening: No longer organized by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the awards are partnering with Chicago Chefs Cook to raise money for a leadership development program run by Hyde Park restaurant Virtue.

What they're saying: "It was important to us that funds raised from the Banchet awards go back to the culinary arena and to chefs advancing our community in profound ways," Chicago Chefs Cook co-founder Sarah Stegner tells Axios.

  • The formal Banchet ceremony, followed by a culinary after-party, will take place Jan. 28 at Venue Six10.

Nominees include: Kyōten, Jeong, Galit and Daisies for Restaurant of the Year.

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6. 📺 Final Four commercial favorites

Bracket: Axios Visuals
Bracket: Axios Visuals

The heat is still on this tournament after voters pared 16 iconic Chicago television ads down to a cool quartet.

Biggest win (and most surprising): Empire Carpet wiped the floor with Andriana Furs with a whopping 86%!

Yes, but: Purists have pointed out that Empire should be disqualified because it went national.

Biggest upset: Dennis Farina's beer cop toppled Eagle Man and his low rates, while Celozzi-Ettleson beat odds on favorite Moo & Oink.

Vote on the next round here! We'll keep it open until 4pm.

Edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Rob Reinalda and Keely Bastow.

Our picks:

🍷 📚Monica is excited about signing books with the likes of Sara Paretsky and other cool local authors Saturday as part of Words + Wine at 57th St Wines in Hyde Park.

🎟️ Justin is getting amped up for our big Power Players party next week. He even dry-cleaned his suit! Tickets still available.

Carrie is on vacation.

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