Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a new economic plan for the Chicago region earlier today:
What’s clear from the 60-page report is that the city is aiming to shake up the status quo. Too many agencies have been making uncoordinated efforts to boost economic development, the report finds, and greater collaboration is needed. Job training programs have not been well-aligned with employers’ needs and should be tailored to specific job demand. And new funding models are needed for infrastructure and transportation projects, given the economic times.
“A global city like Chicago needs a clear set of goals, a clear framework for analysis and clear strategies for economic growth and the creation of jobs,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement…
It is one of two major regional planning endeavors that has been under way for months. Next week, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce will unveil the results of a study conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of how the region can better compete in the global economy.
Read the executive summary of the plan here.
A few quick thoughts on the plan:
1. I’m not particularly surprised by any of the 10 primary suggestions. What seems most pertinent here is that the plan is regional and wants to leverage the assets of the whole region for this one plan.
2. It seems to me that the trick will be uniting all of the local governments and taxing bodies in order to work on this plan. Some of the recent battles in Chicagoland indicate that this will not be easy: the battle over the expansion of O’Hare Airport and the battle over the purchase of the Elgin, Joliet, & Eastern railroad tracks by Canadian National. Perhaps this most recent economic crisis presents an opportunity – after all, Emanuel is well-known for saying, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste” – where even the wealthier suburbs will want to tackle these issues together. Balancing all of these interests will be difficult as will having the right kinds of structures to enact change across communities.
3. This reminds me that while Mayor Emanuel may be considered liberal by some, he is pro-business in a similar way to President Clinton and other more moderate Democrats. This plan comes out of the World Business Chicago group that Emanuel has tapped to help lead Chicago forward. Emanuel’s vision may have more governmental involvement than some would like but matters like infrastructure are already government’s concerns and if managed well (which includes preparing for the future rather than simply trying to keep up today), can help everyone else succeed. If this plan is a success and the Chicago region continues to be or even builds upon its standing as a world-class city, Emanuel will be remembered fondly by many on both sides of the political aisle.
4. I would be curious to know how many plans like this have been developed in the past, how many were successfully followed, and how many were successes.
5. There are a number of groups who do regional planning in the Chicago area, such as the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning which has its own Go to 2040 Plan, and I wonder how they will respond to this plan.