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News from President Toni Preckwinkle

Seven County Chairs and City Representative Meet to Discuss Regional Economic Development

For the first time in decades leaders from the region’s public and private economic development sectors gathered to discuss how they can work together to promote a stronger regional economy.

County board chief executives from Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Will counties and the City of Chicago’s deputy mayor met last week at a summit hosted by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank.

Cook County Board President Preckwinkle’s opening remarks laid the groundwork for leaders to find areas of common ground, explore ways to promote regional growth and create a workforce for today’s jobs.

“I want to recognize the work that each of the seven counties, the City of Chicago, CMAP and others, are doing to foster economic growth and increase productivity,” Preckwinkle said. “There are many opportunities to work together and we see regions that collaborate perform better economically. My goal for today is to determine whether there are areas where we can be more productive by working together rather than separately, or worse, competitively.”Cook County Board President Preckwinkle’s opening remarks laid the groundwork for leaders to find areas of common ground, explore ways to promote regional growth and create a workforce for today’s jobs.

During the meeting representatives met their counterparts from other counties and discussed areas of common interest. The meeting began with a presentation by William Testa of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank to discuss the state of our regional economy.  Next, Robert  Weissbourd of RW Ventures shared examples of successful regional collaborations from around the country.  Following that, the group heard experts discuss freight and logistics, exports and food processing and packaging, all of which illustrated opportunities for collaboration and offered a starting point for conversations.

Randy Blankenhorn, Executive Director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and Theresa Mintle, the President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce also attended the meeting.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of a collaborative approach to regional economic development,” DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said. “We can accomplish more by working together to attract and retain businesses instead of working against each other. I truly believe that the suburbs are Chicago’s greatest asset and that Chicago is our biggest asset.”

The group plans to meet again in six months. A planning committee with representatives from each county will be formed to review the numerous suggestions and next steps.

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