Mayors Barrett of Milwaukee, Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Emanuel of Chicago scheduled to discuss mega-regional priorities at MPC Annual Luncheon - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Mayors Barrett of Milwaukee, Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Emanuel of Chicago scheduled to discuss mega-regional priorities at MPC Annual Luncheon

Metropolitan Planning Council recognizes Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s GO TO 2040 with Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning, and retired ComEd CEO Frank Clark with Jean Allard Regional Trailblazer Award 

CHICAGO— The mayors of Chicago, Milwaukee, Wis., and Gary, Ind. were the main event scheduled today at the Metropolitan Planning Council’s (MPC) 2012 Annual Luncheon, “The Cities That Work,” in Chicago.

Responding to questions posed by MPC President MarySue Barrett, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson articulated their visions for a competitive, sustainable tri-state region. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was unable to attend due to a late-running Chicago City Council meeting. Mayor Barrett and Mayor Freeman-Wilson identified specific actions needed to support the region’s existing and emerging industry clusters, protect Lake Michigan, preserve the region’s position as the nation’s transportation hub, and strengthen the workforce. Ms. Barrett also asked the mayors to identify how key partners – including federal and state agencies, and business and civic leaders – can foster meaningful coordination between the three cities and their regions. 

"We have allowed outsiders to define us as the Rust Belt, and all of the negative connotations that come along with that," said Mayor Barrett. "I think it is time that we as a region promote America's Fresh Coast."

"We recognize that Chicago is the anchor, but we also know Gary has a lot to offer, from our lakefront, to industry, to the Gary-Chicago International Airport," said Mayor Freeman-Wilson. "If all three cities commit to work together, there's a real competitive advantage there."

"As Mayor of Chicago, I am committed to embracing opportunities for regional collaboration, and I will continue to work with fellow mayors from the Midwest to foster economic opportunity and job growth throughout the region," said Mayor Emanuel, in a statement.

“To hear the pundits tell it, we live in a zero sum world: You win, they lose, and vice versa,” said Ms. Barrett. “But in this global economy, Chicago, Gary, Milwaukee and their suburbs comprise one mega-region. To remain relevant and competitive, our tri-state region needs leaders from all three metros working together to support the assets we share, address the threats we face, and pursue the opportunities we can all benefit from – while continuing to celebrate the unique character of the places we call home.” 

MPC’s Annual Luncheon followed on the heels of a July 17 conference at Marquette University in Milwaukee that brought Chicago- and Milwaukee-area civic and business leaders together to discuss shared economic priorities. An independent, competitive analysis of the tri-state region released in March 2012 – the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Territorial Review of the Chicago Tri-State Metropolitan Area – also helped set the stage for the event. To create and execute a plan to implement key recommendations from that analysis, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is creating the Tri-State Alliance for Regional Development.  

Prior to the luncheon, MPC asked civic and business leaders from across the mega-region to reflect on its potential and to identify opportunities for the mayors to coordinate more closely on critical tri-state priorities. Their ideas are featured in The Cities That Work blog series on MPC’s blog, The Connector,  

MPC Awards

MPC also presented two awards at the luncheon: the 2012 Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning and the Jean Allard Regional Trailblazer Award. 

MPC has presented the Burnham Award – named in honor of Daniel H. Burnham, creator of the 1909 Plan of Chicago – since 1988, to encourage sensible growth by honoring innovative and visionary planning efforts in the Chicago metropolitan region. The 2012 Burnham Award recognized the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) for the creation and implementation of GO TO 2040, northeastern Illinois’ first long-term comprehensive plan since Burnham’s 1909 plan. 

Joseph A. Gregoire, regional president, Illinois banking, PNC – the lead sponsor of MPC’s luncheon – and a member of MPC’s Board of Governors, presented the award, which included a cash prize of $5,000 underwritten by PNC. 

“In today’s challenging economic and fiscal times, many communities have difficulty allocating adequate resources to plan for their futures. Yet forward-looking planning is necessary for our region’s continued economic well-being,” said Gregoire. “GO TO 2040 is keeping northeastern Illinois on the cutting edge of prosperity and sustainability, through coordinated growth strategies that address transportation, housing, economic development, open space, and the environment.” 

Since GO TO 2040 was adopted in October 2010, CMAP has actively partnered with communities and multiple stakeholders to implement plans and projects that achieve both local goals and regional priorities. In 2012, for the second year, CMAP is making staff resources and grants available for community-based projects through the GO TO 2040 Local Technical Assistance program. Grant applications are due Aug. 1, 2012. Learn more at 

Mayor Gerald Bennett of Palos Hills, Ill., and Randy Blankenhorn, executive director, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, accepted the award on behalf of CMAP staff and volunteers. 

“CMAP is proud of GO TO 2040, but more importantly, we are committed to ongoing implementation of the plan’s priorities,” said Blankenhorn. “Our goal is to assist communities to strengthen their own futures while contributing to a sustainable, equitable and prosperous metropolitan Chicago.” 

To learn more about the Burnham Award, including a complete list of past winners, visit 

At the luncheon, MPC honored Frank Clark, former chairman and CEO of ComEd, with the Jean Allard Regional Trailblazer Award. Named for MPC’s immediate past president, Jean Allard, who served the organization from 1990 to 1995, MPC established the award to recognize others who blazed trails similar to Allard. Since then, the award has been given to individuals who exemplify her independence, leadership and commitment to regional collaboration. Allard was one of the first civic leaders in Chicago to realize that being truly metropolitan meant reaching out to all parts of the region. Sadly, Allard passed away in January of this year. 

“Like Jean, Frank is a groundbreaker and a champion for metropolitan Chicago,” said award presenter King Harris, chair, MPC Board of Governors, and chairman, Harris Holdings, Inc. “He knew well what was at stake in 2004, when he served on a politically charged task force exploring the merger of northeastern Illinois’ land use and transportation planning agencies. Thanks to him and other members of that task force, today we have the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which is steering our region’s ship toward growth and prosperity.” 

Ranked by Fortune magazine in 2002 as one of the 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in America, Clark retired from ComEd in 2011, after 46 years. Clark’s sharp business acumen is matched by his strong civic commitment. He serves on the boards of trustees of nearly a dozen Chicago-area institutions, including as chairman of the executive committee of The Chicago Community Trust and a co-founder of the Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy on Chicago’s West Side. 

"Jean Allard was a trailblazer in every sense of the word, and someone I personally knew. Her metropolitan perspective and deep understanding of what is needed to create and sustain a truly great region will be difficult to replace,” said Clark. “I am highly honored to receive an award that bears her name." 


PNC was the Presenting Sponsor of the MPC 2012 Annual Luncheon. 

Allstate Insurance Company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, The Crown Family, The Harris Family Foundation, and Walgreens were Co-Chair Sponsors of the luncheon. Benefactors of the event were Cole Taylor Bank, ComEd, An Exelon Company, McDonald’s Corporation, Northern Trust, John S. Gates, Jr., BNSF Railway, CSX, Union Pacific, and Wintrust Commercial Bank. 

About PNC

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. ( is one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services organizations providing retail and business banking; residential mortgage banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management; asset management and global fund services. Follow @PNCNewson Twitter for breaking news, updates and announcements from PNC.

About Metropolitan Planning Council

Since 1934, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has been dedicated to shaping a more sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region. As an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, MPC serves communities and residents by developing, promoting and implementing solutions for sound regional growth. Stay up to date on MPC’s news and projects at, on Facebook, and on Twitter at @Metroplanners. 

The hashtag for today’s luncheon was #citiesthatwork. 


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