Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle Announces Launch of Southland Development Authority

November 13, 2019

New initiative to grow economy in south suburbs and promote large-scale investments

THORNTON – Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was joined today by business, philanthropic and community leaders for the launch of the Southland Development Authority (SDA), a new vehicle designed to grow the south suburban economy and promote large-scale investments needed to propel the Southland forward.

Under President Preckwinkle’s leadership, the SDA was formed to serve as a next generation economic development initiative. The creation of the SDA is also the result of tireless work by the South Suburban Economic Growth Initiative, a cross-section of community, business and government leaders committed to the future of Chicago’s south suburbs.

"The SDA represents a powerful and dynamic institution that will drive economic growth and attract new investment across more than 40 municipalities,” President Preckwinkle said. "We have worked closely with the business and philanthropic communities, residents and elected officials to develop this innovative approach for an important but often overlooked part of the Chicago region.”

Similar to other Development Authorities around the country, the SDA is designed to be financially self-supporting within a few years. Cook County, the MacArthur Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust and the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust have each provided initial start-up funding.

The Southland represents an underutilized market with enormous assets and development investment opportunities. The SDA will lead partnerships with developers, investors and stakeholders to jumpstart economic growth for the entire region.

President Preckwinkle has made the economic growth of the south suburbs a top priority during her administration. As part of President Preckwinkle’s commitment to the Southland, Cook County’s Bureau of Economic Development will also invest more than $50 million in public and private investments next year alone. This money will support affordable housing, critical social services, infrastructure, disaster recovery projects and job training. It will also assist organizations including the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association and the South Suburban Small Business Development Center.

“These investments are important, but government resources alone are not enough,” Preckwinkle said. “It will take much more than that—which is why we are here today. We all share a vision to re-establish the south suburbs as an economic powerhouse.”

The SDA is modeled after several new organizations that have emerged across the country over the past few years and will be the first of its kind in Illinois. This new approach to economic development will provide new sources of capital and financial tools needed to support effective management and implementation of new property investments in the region.

"We needed to do something different," stated Carter Sterling, President of Sterling Lumber and one of the founding co-chairs of the leadership group that created the Southland Development Authority. "Old methods of dealing with economic growth in the south suburbs are not working anymore."

"As an elected official, I have seen first-hand the enormous challenges facing businesses and residents of the Chicago Southland," said Vernard Alsberry, Jr., Mayor of the Village of Hazel Crest. "We need an approach that allows us to end historical fragmentation and local competition then move forward, together, through coordinated, well-managed investments."

For more information regarding the Southland Development Authority and Cook County’s Bureau of Economic Development please visit: https://www.cookcountyil.gov/bureau-of-economic-development.