TINLEY PARK | Newly elected U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., said Monday she sees the proposed airport near Peotone and Illiana Expressway as projects to create economic benefits -- and she wants those benefits stay in the area.
Kelly, speaking to a gathering of the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce, said she will workto make sure jobs created by the projects are given to area residents and local government officials have a say in their operations.
The Illinois General Assembly last month approved a measure giving the Illinois Department of Transportation the authority to negotiate deals toward eventual airport construction.
Kelly said she has been told that will be followed up with a bill calling for local control of any new airport, when the state Legislature reconvenes in November for its fall veto session.
“I know it’s located in Will County. But I look at it as a Second Congressional District airport,” she said.
Kelly said she envisions any board to run the airport consisting of people from south suburban Cook, Will and Kankakee counties who would reflect the views of the mayors and village presidents of area communities.
With regards to the proposed airport and construction of an Illiana Expressway, she said there will be many contracts paying significant dollars for their development. She is concerned that outside interests could wind up getting the bulk of that money.
“I want to ensure that local companies are lined up to do these jobs,” Kelly said.
Although the congresswoman who has only been in office for two months since being elected to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr., said she thinks the General Assembly’s action last month towards airport development was a significant gesture.
“There have been 30 years of debate on this,” she said. “This is a giant step forward.”
Kelly also cited her office's efforts to negotiate a deal with Chicago for the revamping of the Port of Chicago that also would bring thousands of jobs to the city’s Southeast Side and surrounding suburbs.
All of these transportation-related projects could have the effect of making the south suburbs a significant place when it comes to the shipping of goods across the country.
“We could be an important center for the global economy,” she said.