For some, the last 12 months might well be considered a year of recovery. For others, including myself, it was more a year of treading water.
This is not, however, a time for cynics but a time for optimists.
Among strides taken that will reap dividends on both sides of the state line in 2014:
- Third airport legislation: Yes, folks, Springfield may have actually broken the logjam with public private partnership legislation and a state agency to take the lead. And this, like many projects to follow, can benefit the bistate area.
- Illiana Expressway action: Illinois and Indiana approvals will bring the project to a near-term decision on private involvement and public commitment.
- Brownfield Redevelopment Intermodal Promotion Act: Establishing a multi-municipal planning council in south Cook County to collectively move on complementary development adjacent to the Canadian National intermodal operations in Harvey/Markham/Homewood. And the groundbreaking in Homewood of CN's North American training center.
- Chicago kick-starting the Illinois International Port: Revamping its organization, securing private investment and providing for the existing, heretofore underused, freight (rail, ship, truck) linkages.
- I-57/I-294 interchange: Not a plan but a project.
- U.S. 30/CN grade separation: The Lynwood-based project is a home run for both sides of the border, and complements the Joe Orr/Main Street extension project.
- Illinois pension reform: Long overdue, still to be court-tested, action in Springfield.
- Calumet (Ill. 394/Ill. 1) corridor study: A far-reaching, 11-town, two-county initiative to plan realistic, implementable development along the expressway linking I-80/I-94 to the Illiana Expressway and proposed Southeast (commuter rail) service corridors.
The initiative's timeliness complements not only these projects and programs, but also the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp.'s agenda for 2014:
- Moving on to the next phase of Opportunities for Investment in Chicago’s Southland: a 23-municipality event showcasing investment opportunities to 150 developers, policymakers and investors.
- Continuing staff and information support for green infrastructure planning, mapping and implementation activities in Robbins, Riverdale, Calumet Park, Calumet City, Dolton, Blue Island and Burnham subregion.
- Coordinating investments by Cook County, Illinois and U.S EPA in workforce training.
- Taking the Southland Development Loan Fund and Land Bank programs from plan to program stage for transit-oriented development.
- Implementing a new GIS-based site development atlas.
- Pursuing plan recommendations for I-57/I-249 community development.
- Joint municipal marketing at the 2014 International Conference of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas with Park Forest in the lead.
Let's resolve to work together as a region to carve out win-win scenarios that promise mutual success and benefit.