Special Series, Part 3: Make or Break - Year One of the Regional Planning Board - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Special Series, Part 3: Make or Break - Year One of the Regional Planning Board

The third in the series: Members of the Illinois Regional Planning Board and Indiana Regional Development Authority make first joint appearance.

For years, neighboring communities have had to compete with each other to attract the most tax dollars, often at the expense of local quality of life, economic development, school excellence, personal and social health, and basic needs like water and sewage. While some competition among municipalities is healthy, it's become increasingly clear that any local victories are fleeting; we're racing our neighbors to the bottom as long as we allow our region to fragment and decay. Thankfully, Chicagoland has an historic opportunity to unite and regain our competitive edge through the development of a strong Regional Planning Board. The state legislature has given the board just one year to develop a plan for success. This series, "Make or Break – Year One of the Regional Planning Board," analyzes the issues the board must tackle in the months ahead.

Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast?

Members of the new Illinois Regional Planning Board and Indiana Regional Development Authority made an historic joint appearance at the Business Leaders for Transportation member meeting in early December. Buffalo Grove Mayor Elliott Hartstein, executive committee member of Illinois’ new planning authority, and Tim Sanders, executive director of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, spoke about the opportunities and challenges ahead for the two new organizations, including the potential for them to work together.

The meeting was an especially timely opportunity for the two members of the Illinois Regional Planning Board in attendance to learn more about the Indiana authority and get feedback from Business Leaders members on ideas for the new Illinois Board; Mayor Hartstein attended the Regional Planning Board’s first planning retreat just hours after the meeting. Though the theme of the morning was the importance of strong leadership and bold visions, it was also a chance to compare the structure and powers of the two organizations. Below is a side by side comparison of the two boards. The table illustrates that Indiana’s authority has been granted significantly more power and funding than the Illinois Regional Planning Board. The Illinois Regional Planning Board’s work over the next few months will determine if the board will submit legislative proposals for similarly strong powers.


Looking beyond the details of organizational structure and power, the joint appearance of Mayor Hartstein and Mr. Sanders underscores the reality that, now more than ever, economic development and the network of resources to support thriving communities doesn’t stop at the county lines — and doesn’t stop at the state lines. Businesses and residents in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake and Will counties, and Northwest Indiana and Southeast Wisconsin all win from excellent — and lose from poor — planning and management of development in our tri-state region.

Click here to view the full "Make or Break - Year One of the Regional Planning Board" series.

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