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Chicago’s suburb of Naperville to host India Independence Day parade this year

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US-India-Business

Naperville: The Chicago suburb of Naperville is to officially host the India Independence Day parade this year, making it the first city in Midwest America to do so.

The parade is organized in many American cities by private organizations like the Federation of Indian Associations. The parade will be held on August 16.

Naperville’s Indian Community Outreach Organization(ICO) and the Alliances of Midwest Indian Association have jointly organized the parade and related celebrations which include hoisting the Indian flag at the Naperville Municipal Center. The organizers said that they anticipated a large turnout, rivaling the Independence Day parade in Chicago’s ‘little India’ Devon Avenue, traditionally the biggest such event in the area.

The India Day Parade will showcase India’s rich and diverse culture, with several floats organized by Indian cultural, business and political organizations. Spectators will be treated to a rich variety of Indian cuisine, ethnic arts, apparel and jewelry.

At an event to announce the parade, senior city officials were unabashedly enthusiastic. Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and Mayor Emeritus George Pradel lauded the contributions of the suburb’s Indian American community. There was even a proposal for Pradel to be the ‘parade marshal’ attired in a traditional Indian attire.

“Indian Americans are now a significant part of Naperville’s population in both numbers and impact,” said ICO chairman Krishna Bansal. The community, which saw a dramatic grown since the nineties, now comprises ten percent of the suburb’s total population. Moreover, with the recent influx of information technology workers and other professionals from India, over 70 percent are first generation immigrants.

Local observers see the parade as a symbol of the rapid growth of the Indian American community in the Chicago suburbs. Indian-Americans are the largest Asian ethnic group in Illinois, according to data from the last census. Demographers and Indian community leaders say they expect that the figures will increase even more as highly educated Indians continue to fill jobs in the computer industry and change the face of the suburbs.

Earlier, Indian immigrants chose to first settle near Chicago’s Devon Avenue, and later moved to the suburbs as they prospered. In a demographic shift, recent Indian immigrants move directly to suburbs like Naperville, which has a highly regarded school system.

Naperville, ranked as one of the most desirable American cities to raise a family, is home to more than 10,000 Indian-Americans, making it the suburb with the largest population of the community in the area outside Chicago.

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2019 Chicago Auto Show: Huge Demand of Trucks and SUVs, Sedans Take Back Seat

“We’re not abandoning the car market completely,” Majuros assured. “We’re right-sizing our portfolio".

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Sedans, Chicago
Sedans Take Backseat to SUV's, Trucks at 2019 Chicago Auto Show. VOA

It’s billed as North America’s largest and longest-running auto show, now in its 111th year. The 2019 Chicago Auto Show offers a lineup of nearly 1,000 vehicles occupying nearly 1 million-square-feet of space at the McCormick Place Convention Center.

A special preview for members of the media at the annual show is a chance for manufacturers to show off their latest and greatest products about to enter the market.

What is notable about this year’s event is what some manufacturers aren’t showing off — new sedans.

Sedans, Chicago
Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations of the Americas for Ford Motor Company, speaks during the media preview of the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place, Feb. 7, 2019, in Chicago. VOA

Customers want trucks, SUVs

“Over 10 years, there has been a consistent movement of customers in the United States and around the world, but even more so in the United States, moving away from sedans and more traditional passenger sedans into more utility vehicles,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Motor Co.’s Global Operations.

“Nearly 7 out of 10 vehicles sold today are trucks or SUVs in the U.S. market. They like the ride high, the seating height, the utility of the vehicle. And now, we can give them the fuel efficiency that they used to get out of sedans. So, that’s where customers are going.”

All reasons Ford is going the extra mile and planning to invest $1 billion to upgrade its Chicago manufacturing facility, which produces the popular Explorer Sport Utility Vehicle, or SUV — also used as a law enforcement vehicle — and the new Lincoln Mariner luxury SUV.

But while Ford is offering new options for consumers, it is also discontinuing models of the Focus, Fiesta and Fusion cars, ending production later this year.

“We’ve been planning our business to incorporate the expectation that some of those cars will go away,” Hinrichs said. “Then bring in new products to enter the market to supplement some of that volume that was lost so that we can keep our plants full.”

The new family car

“We have the debate a lot about is the compact SUV the new family sedan, and in many instances, you can say yes,” said Steve Majuros, marketing director for cars and crossovers for the General Motors Chevrolet brand. He introduced two new trucks in Chevy’s popular Silverado lineup to media at the auto show.

The prominence, and choices, of SUVs, crossovers and trucks in GM’s current lineup promoted at the auto show stands in contrast to its perennial attraction in recent years, the Chevrolet Volt. Even though it is the top-selling electric plug-in vehicle of all time, sagging sales have led GM to cease production in March.

“Volt was a great product for us,” said Majuros. “(It) had a great run — two generations. But what has happened is as the ability to produce pure electric and the kind of cost configuration and range of what people are looking for, Volt had its time, but was a great stepping stone for us to lead us to the future, which was pure electrification.”

Sedans, Chicago
A long row of unsold 2019 Cruze sedans sits at a Chevrolet dealership in Littleton, Colo., Feb. 3, 2019. VOA

Joining the Volt on the chopping block is the Cruze, a compact car manufactured at GM’s Lordstown Assembly plant in Ohio. Chevrolet does plan to keep making the Malibu midsize sedan and the Bolt all-electric vehicle, among a few other options.

ALSO READ: Researchers Develop Wearable Device to Measure Wearer’s Physiological Response to Environment

“We’re not abandoning the car market completely,” Majuros assured. “We’re right-sizing our portfolio. We’re reacting to what the consumers are looking for.”

What they are looking for are trucks and SUVs, which made up about 70 percent of the 17 million vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2018, a trend expected to continue this year. (VOA)