As we approach the holiday season and the end of the year, I find myself oscillating between reflecting the year that has been, and the year that is to come. The municipalities in the Chicago Southland accomplished many things that advanced their economic and community development. Some of the highlights for me this year include:
• The Tinley Park Convention Center finished its expansion, creating more than 70,000 square feet of function space, thus creating an ideal location for Midwestern meetings, events, trade shows and conferences.
• Matteson completed its community center this past year with a state-of-the-art fitness center, competition pool and a variety of first-class playing fields and courts.
• Toyota Park in Bridgeview, the home of the Chicago Fire and world class concerts is now the home of the U.S. Adult Soccer Association. Its move from Indianapolis to Toyota Park hopefully will continue to bring more soccer events to the Chicago Southland.
• The Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau sales team attended 18 trade shows this year representing the Chicago Southland region. The leads and bookings they generated provided a significant economic impact in the Chicago Southland.
• Funding to close the gap on the Burnham Greenway finally was secured. When completed, residents will be able to ride on a path from Crown Point, through the Chicago Southland to the beaches of Lake Michigan.
As 2011 wraps up, we enthusiastically look toward 2012. There are fantastic things just waiting around the corner in the Chicago Southland region:
• The Chicago Southland CVB will host its first Social Media Summit on Feb. 23 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago-Alsip. This event is geared toward businesses looking to take the next step in social media.
• We are looking forward to seeing Oak Lawn, Tinley Park and Frankfort complete their 9/11 memorials with steel beams from the World Trade Center. The Oak Lawn 9/11 First Responder Memorial in particular is coming along very quickly with tremendous detailed work being done on the spires.
• The Matteson Hotel & Conference Center is going through significant renovations and will reopen in the first quarter of 2012. The Chicago Southland CVB sales team is looking forward to bringing conferences and conventions back to Matteson in the new space.
• As a member of the GSU President's Advisory Board, I am proud to see Governors State University begin the transition to becoming a four-year university. The dual-degree program has been a remarkable success and the future is bright for the continuing evolution of GSU.
We look forward to all the new opportunities 2012 will bring us. From all of us at the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau, we wish you happy holidays and a happy new year.
Jim Garrett is president and CEO of the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.