Politicians representing the Chicago Metropolitan area are demanding that Springfield lawmakers spend more on improving infrastructure, transportation and to help close the job and income disparity gap in seven regions in and around Chicago.
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning announced the ‘On To 2050 Plan’ after three years of analysis, research and input from residents. The plan, unveiled Wednesday at Millennium Park to about 1,000 community leaders, politicians and transportation officials, calls for inclusive growth in all areas, bolstered resilience within communities for change and the prioritization of investments for maximum impact.
“We are adjusting to the new normal. There is less money coming from the federal government,” said Dan Cronin, DuPage County Board chairman.
“This is the ‘I will’ region,” said Clarence Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities and the keynote speaker for Wednesday’s kickoff. “Kids are looking at Chicago as a place to live.”
In an effort to address the issues and challenges facing the Chicago region, CMAP looks to collaborate to find solutions. The CMAP report found that minorities in the seven-county Chicago area are having more difficulties getting jobs and rising out of poverty than areas in other major cities like New York and Los Angeles.
“One of the greatest strengths of this regions is its diversity,” said Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board of Commissioners president. “We are competing against London and Tokyo, it is about these regions working together.”
After speaking in a panel, Preckwinkle said in an interview she identified gender and race as the two defining issues impacting job disparity. Preckwinkle, who is for running for reelection next month and for mayor in next year’s election, said she has focused her political career on employment and diversity efforts.
“Communities that are struggling are black and brown communities,” Preckwinkle said.
In his remarks to a packed audience, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said if local governments cannot strike a deal with the Legislature to support roads, bridges and rail transport, local governments will work with CMAP to create their own plan.
“We have waited for 10 years trying to figure out how to build a transportation system,” Emanuel said.