LANSING | Cook County has to be more aggressive in marketing itself to businesses to stem the flow of jobs from Illinois, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and others said Monday afternoon in the historical Ford Hangar at Lansing Municipal Airport.
Kristi DeLaurentiis, Lansing director of planning and development, had asked about providing incentives for businesses to stay on the Illinois side of the border with Indiana.
DeLaurentiis said there are tax differential hurdles to go along with Northwest Indiana officials recruiting Illinois businesses on a daily basis. She asked how municipal governments can partner with county government to make staying in Illinois more attractive.
"We've got to figure out how to market Cook County and our region in Illinois," Preckwinkle said. "Frankly, historically Indiana has been much more aggressive in their economic incentives. We have to step up our game."
Herman Brewer, bureau chief for the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, said towns bordering other counties face similar problems.
Preckwinkle talked about the foreclosures in the county and the Cook County Land Bank Authority, whose goal is to take foreclosed or abandoned properties and put them to use for government or private enterprise. She said $1.5 million of a $6 million grant from the state attorney general's office will be used in the south suburbs.
"We're going to use the money for land acquisition, to pay for demolition, to erase back taxes," Preckwinkle said. "That kind of work is costly and complicated and it's a challenge to keep it well-funded."
Preckwinkle and members of her staff were speaking to south suburban government and business leaders at an economic development forum organized by county Commissioner Stanley Moore, who replaced William Beavers in April. Beavers was found guilty of tax evasion in February.
"I'm going to make sure that I keep my promise (to Lansing Village President Norm Abbott) that I'm going to bring Cook County out here to Lansing to make sure that we get done what (Abbott) needs to get done," Moore said.
Abbott said it was the first time he could remember a Cook County president taking the time to come down and speak in the village.
Preckwinkle said she was happy to have a "sub-regional entity" like the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association to work with.
"(The SSMMA) have been a real Godsend for us in county government," she said. "In addition to Chicago, there are 132 other municipalities in Cook County. It's very hard to connect with 130, 132 other mayors, city managers, leaders."