Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle highlights local economic boost efforts at Chicago conference

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle highlighted local efforts that are being used to boost the economy at this year's Basic Income Guarantee Conference.

The event is being held in Chicago. 

This year marks the 21st annual BIG Conference, which brings together grassroots activists, nonprofits and elected officials to collaborate on ways to combat poverty.

Chicago, Evanston and other communities across the state have implemented guarantee income programs and other direct cash initiatives since the onset of the COVID pandemic.


Preckwinkle says these ideas reach back decades, citing that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. first called for such programs back in 1967.

"He noted that among its myriad benefits included a host of positive psychological changes that would inevitably result from widespread economic security," said Preckwinkle. "Dr. King understood the transcendent power of a guaranteed income, not only to uplift a person's financial state but to uplift spirits and plans for the future."

The Cook County Guaranteed Income Pilot issued its first payments at the end of last year.

The more than 3,000 participants are given monthly payments of $500. 

The $42 million pilot is the largest publicly-funded guaranteed income program in American history,