CHICAGO HEIGHTS | A day after Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation establishing a Peotone airport, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., said Friday she plans to use her post to promote the concept, saying she will have meetings in the near future with new U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and various Will County officials.
Kelly, who spoke to the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp. during a gathering at Prairie State College, said she wants to be sure that Foxx — who was confirmed as transportation secretary earlier this month — understands the significance of a proposed airport built near Peotone.
Meanwhile, she said her meetings with Will County officials will aim to overcome their hesitancy to support a Peotone airport, since they have said in the past Will County should run the new airport.
Instead, the bill signed Thursday by Quinn puts control of the proposed facility under the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“I want to meet with Will County,” Kelly said, adding she sees a new airport benefiting a large region stretching from the South Chicago neighborhood through the south suburbs to the area around Kankakee.
“I’m claiming it as the ‘2nd Congressional District Airport’ because it really impacts the entire area,” she said, and, if built, it will have the potential to, “bolster (the Chicago area’s) place in the nation’s aviation for the next 50 years.”
The congresswoman whose district stretches from 53rd Street in Chicago to the Kankakee/Iroquois County border said she’d also like to meet with Indiana officials to see if she could overcome the opposition to a Peotone airport from people who’d rather promote the concept of an expanded Gary/Chicago International Airport.
Kelly was in a congratulatory mood, saying many people deserve praise for keeping the Peotone airport concept alive for the past two decades. “I’m applauding everyone,” she said, adding she thinks her predecessor deserves special praise.
“I’m including Jesse Jackson Jr. in my thoughts,” she said.
Kelly said she wants to create a development district that would oversee future construction in the area surrounding the airport site.
“I want our local companies, our unions, our residents, our minorities to get the benefits,” she said.
Also speaking was Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez, who on Friday touted the various uses of tax increment financing districts, sales tax incentives and property tax breaks to attract more businesses to his city.
He told the gathering of business and government officials they need to cooperate, regardless of boundaries.
“It’s very clear that economic development programs will benefit us all, whether we’re in Harvey, Sauk Village or Dolton,” Gonzalez said. “They’re creating jobs for all of us. We’re all in this together.”