Driving Toward Growth and Prosperity in the South Suburbs

Pro Bono Partners

The Private Bank
RW Ventures

Driving Toward Growth and Prosperity in the South Suburbs

Cook County's South Suburbs have long been a critical part of Chicago's regional economic strength, home to important industrial assets and residential communities for workers across the region. These suburbs, whose economic base relies heavily on manufacturing, have struggled against the headwinds of industrial decline in the United States, along with the impact of the Great Recession. The result has been overall declining employment and increasing disconnection from the region's economic trajectory.

Recognizing that the health of the regional economy depends on the vitality of each of its parts, last year Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle initiated the South Suburban Economic Growth Initiative (SSEGI) with the goal of reviving prosperity in the South Suburbs. The initiative is a collaboration between the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, Civic Consulting Alliance, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Mass Economics, and RW Ventures, with financial support from the Chicago Community Trust and MacArthur Foundation.

This month, the collaboration completed Phase I of its work, in which it identified opportunities for economic growth. In this phase, the team conducted a market analysis and interviewed over 70 stakeholders in the South Suburbs to develop a baseline understanding of the economic dynamics. This research highlighted core strengths in existing economic clusters such as transportation, logistics and distribution, as well as opportunities for innovation in emerging regional industries, workforce development, and housing and amenities.

These Phase I efforts will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive set of long-term initiatives to revitalize the South Suburbs, helping the South Suburbs to regain its strength as a critical economic hub and as communities of choice for the region's residents.

Read the Phase I Report Executive Summary here. For more information on this project please contact Antonio Benecchi.

Building upon the initial work, Cook County plans to engage a broad set of stakeholders and partners in developing a comprehensive set of initiatives that will build from current activities to restore the South Suburbs as key communities of choice and hubs of economic activity. The goal is to drive prosperity in the South Suburbs and the region, which deserve no less.

Toni Preckwinkle

Cook County Board President