MPC supports efforts to foster economic development in Chicago's Southland - Metropolitan Planning Council

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MPC supports efforts to foster economic development in Chicago's Southland

An update on the activities of the Economic Development Roundtable, and a link to a database of organizations promoting sensible growth and economic development in the south suburbs.

The Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau, Chicago Southland Alliance, enterpriz Cook County and Metro Southwest Alliance are among several groups working to bring economic growth to Chicago’s south and southwest suburbs. They have joined forces with governmental bodies to attract and retain businesses and further market the region; while simultaneously addressing issues that affect quality of life for local residents.

To encourage and foster collaboration and advance regional cooperation, Kristi DeLaurentiis, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC)’s south suburban coordinator, and others have been meeting with the Economic Development Roundtable (EDR), an ad hoc group representing 10 or more area organizations and agencies.  The EDR was established to advance regional co-operation among business, government and economic development groups in Chicago’s south and southwest suburbs to prevent further loss of commercial and industrial properties and the shift of property tax burdens to homeowners in areas devoid of economic development. EDR also advocates for reform to the education system and reinvestment in infrastructure improvements and land use planning in local communities. Together, EDR members have pledged to work cooperatively, share information, pursue consensus building opportunities, advance complementary marketing initiatives and identify partnering opportunities on specific short-term projects; initiatives designed to improve the area’s overall competitiveness.

MPC has advocated for the development of a consensus agenda that could be used to advance the south/southwest suburban region. It also led the initiative to develop a comprehensive database of entities at work in the Chicago Southland area to better address regional issues.

The database of organizations was originally created by the Campaign for Sensible Growth, a coalition of 177 business, government and civic organizations advocating sensible growth.  Working with the Campaign and other EDR members, the database was expanded to include planning, government and economic development organizations, including municipal offices, at work in the south and southwestern suburbs: hundreds of organizations/offices, their contact information and their leading efforts. It was developed to serve as a resource and directory not only for those at work in the south/southwest suburban region but for others throughout the metropolitan area.

A recent Alliance Day event was organized by the Chicago Southland Alliance and supported by all of the EDR members.  This second annual conference brought together exhibitors, real estate brokers, municipal representatives, developers and other professionals in an effort to showcase local communities and attract companies and investment to the south suburbs. Its success was evidenced by the 500+ participants that drew from the entire Chicagoland region and from standing-room-only panel discussions that highlighted many business opportunities the Southland offers (see for example "Developers take a look at what South Suburbs have to offer," from the June 27, 2002 Star). The Metro Southwest Alliance and the Chicago Southland Alliance, two organizations that had been existing as separate units at work on similar issues, took the event as an opportunity to announce their merger into one entity, which was met with pledges of support from many sources. Embodying regional cooperation and coordination, the two Alliances consolidated to meet economic development and quality of life needs; the merger will incorporate the strengths of both associations to better meet the future challenges in the Chicago Southland. 

For more information on MPC’s work in the south suburbs or the Economic Development Roundtable, contact Kristi DeLaurentiis at 815/325-1220.

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