In a time of limited budgets at the federal, state and local levels, never has the need for collaboration and partnerships been greater.
A prime example of these partnerships is the Millennium Reserve, initiated by Governor Pat Quinn about one year ago and again highlighted at a public event on March 1.
The Millennium Reserve is a 140,000-acre project that creates the largest open space area in the country. It includes the southeast side of Chicago and much of south suburban Cook County. This area is rich in open space and natural areas, forest preserves, wetlands, biking and hiking trails.
These high quality areas are tremendous assets for the more than 400,000 residents of the Millennium Reserve area, but also can become a tourist attraction creating jobs and economic development for our region.
Additional projects announced by the governor include green infrastructure planning in the Calumet River Corridor, including the Midlothian Creek Project, with assistance from South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association. In addition, funding for new trails, including the Cal-Sag and the Thorn Creek Trails, has been announced. They will be under construction this year.
We cannot forget, though, the rich industrial heritage of the southern suburbs and Chicago’s south side. While much of the old steel and manufacturing has left the area, a new, modern technology-based manufacturing era is alive and well in the area. Advanced technology will make our industries more efficient and competitive and bring thousands of new jobs to the Millennium Reserve region.
It is this balance of jobs, economic development, and access to open space and natural areas that will make the region attractive to local residents and visitors from outside the area.
As mentioned earlier, these efforts can only succeed with partnerships. No single organization or government can do this alone. The South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association is honored to be one of the partners in this effort.
Reggie Greenwood, SSMMA’s deputy executive director of economic development, has worked tirelessly with our partner organizations.
We look forward to continuing this important work with our partners including Chicago, the governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Cook County Forest Preserve District, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, other critical partners are the Calumet Stormwater Initiative, Chicago Community Trust and the Donnelley Foundation, the Field Museum,Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Metropolitan Planning Council, and private firms such as CSX Transportation and Funk Linko.
Working together, we will achieve the high goals we aim to achieve and leave a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren.