Investments in Chicago Heights on Tour
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, along with Chicago Heights Mayor David A. Gonzalez, local elected officials and top leadership from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Authority (HUD), on Friday, March 22nd, toured nearly $11 million of federal and county-funded strategic investments in roadway construction, city housing rehabilitation, and other development projects, including job anchoring industrial locations within Chicago Heights. The tour started at Chicago Heights City Hall, went to some of the roadway improvements both on 17th Street and on Joe Orr Road, visited the new NSP housing, and ended by visiting job anchoring industrial locations. Leverage is important as we look comprehensively at neighborhood development. Affordable housing is a starting place for improving the well-being of individuals and families in distressed communities, especially those who have been ravaged by the recession. However, affordable housing must be combined with other comprehensive investment and strategies to create the kinds of neighborhoods which attract jobs and allow families to thrive. One of President Preckwinkle’s first objectives when taking office was to strengthen and expand the capacity of the County to engage in meaningful economic development. This was accomplished through the consolidation of several disparate departments into a new Bureau of Economic Development (BED), focused on sustainable community investment, business growth and attraction, affordable housing and regional planning. Today, the structure is in place and continues moving forward. The Bureau oversees and coordinates the activities of the following five departments: Planning and Development, Capital Planning and Policy, Real Estate Management, Building and Zoning and Zoning Board of Appeals. In July 2012, President Preckwinkle appointed the Council of Economic Advisors to provide strategic advice on regional economic strengths and trends. The tour highlights a strategic partnership with Chicago Heights.