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Region's Mayors Work Together On Jobs

Mayors of Chicago, Milwaukee and Gary told the Metropolitan Planning Council they'll work together on protecting Lake Michigan, growing industry, transportation and more.

When the cities of Chicago and Milwaukee make, or fail to make, decisions on regional planning, the suburbs between them are affected. 

Chicago Mayor Rahn Emanuel and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, along with Gary, IN, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson were scheduled to all speak about region-level planning at a Metropolitan Planning Council luncheon Wednesday, though Emanuel didn't make it due to a city council meeting running overtime, the MPC said. 

The Milwaukee and Gary mayors, according to the MPC, named several areas where the three Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana cities could cooperate:

  • support the region’s existing and emerging industry clusters
  • protect Lake Michigan
  • preserve the region’s position as the nation’s transportation hub

"We have allowed outsiders to define us as the Rust Belt, and all of the negative connotations that come along with that," said Mayor Barrett of Milwaukee. "I think it is time that we as a region promote America's Fresh Coast."

Gary's mayor echoed that.

"We recognize that Chicago is the anchor, but we also know Gary has a lot to offer, from our lakefront, to industry, to the Gary-Chicago International Airport," said Mayor Freeman-Wilson. "If all three cities commit to work together, there's a real competitive advantage there."

Mayor Emanuel sent a statement saying, "I am committed to embracing opportunities for regional collaboration, and I will continue to work with fellow mayors from the Midwest to foster economic opportunity and job growth throughout the region."

In this global economy, Milwaukee's Mayor Barrett said,  "Chicago, Gary, Milwaukee and their suburbs comprise one mega-region. To remain relevant and competitive, our tri-state region needs leaders from all three metros working together to support the assets we share, address the threats we face, and pursue the opportunities we can all benefit from – while continuing to celebrate the unique character of the places we call home.” 

MPC held a similar conference July 17 in Milwaukee at Marquette University.

Two studies recently found the region has lagged in economic development because development efforts were so fragmented, according to the Chicago Tribune. The number of governmental agencies, duplication of services and poor transportation have also been .

MPC said an independent, competitive analysis of the tri-state region released in March helped set the stage for the event. Also, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is creating the Tri-State Alliance for Regional Development.  

Prior to the luncheon, MPC asked civic and business leaders from across the mega-region to identify opportunities for the mayors to coordinate more closely on critical tri-state priorities. Their ideas are featured in The Cities That Work blog series on MPC’s blog, The Connector.

Jeff Warg July 29, 2012 at 03:47 PM
This is about a few cities economic well being, not convenience. One in six people have left Racine since 1970, the city is dying. I am flexible in my approach. One year ago, I proposed a downtown Racine Freeway spur off of I-94 via the mostly vacant Canadian Pacific railroad corridor to the Racine Common Council. No one asked me even one question about it. That route would be within blocks of SC Johnson, Modine and the now empty Southside Industrial Park. Racine is backward and isolated, that must change. There isn't one four lane highway between the city of Racine and Milwaukee, while we have two four lane highways between Racine and Kenosha. 794 would address that problem by giving us quick, direct access to downtown Milwaukee. 794 it seems, will be extended south to Ryan Road in the future. Extending it into Racine would be wise. North-south access has to be improved along the lakeshore. Racine is 16 miles from Cudahy, yet it takes almost 30 minutes to get there. Waukegan is 27 miles away and is nearly a one hour trip. Regional planners since the 1960's have said there needs to be another n-s arterial east of I-94, they are right. @Bryan, Racine County had a plan on the books around 1987 when the marina was built that proposed a freeway loop be built on KR and also 4 Mile Rd that would go to Hwy 31. The only part of the plan implemented was widening Hwy 31.
Heather Asiyanbi July 29, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Part of the issue is poor transportation but why is the conversation only focused on roads? Why aren't we talking about improving/implementing more mass/commuter transit that has been proven to cost less in the long term because of longer life spans and fewer maintenance issues?
John K. Magee July 30, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Talkin' about 794 along Union Pacific's frieght line, I meant between Oak Road, & 90th Street, west of Case High School area. that is Union Pacific rail line. NOT along Lakeshore line, that is for KRM's line. so took a look at that land!, you knows that 794 would be plan to build along eastside of Union Pacific's rail line, the buildings along Airline Road from Hwy 20, to dead end, must relocate those buildings to build a roadway. PLUS relocate power lines too. Spring Street (Hwy C) that is also along eastside of Union Pacific's freight line is Roma Lodge property. that might half to relocate that area, to build 794 roadway. What I like to get that point is; why not forget about 794, take KRM rail line to whatever wanna go. Chicago, Milwaukee, Waukegan, Bayview, Evanston, and just relax. no worry about driving around, spending monoy for gas, parking lot fee, and no worry about Tollway fee. that is my point!
John K. Magee July 30, 2012 at 05:23 AM
You knows that everyones been talkin' about roads, but they don't want transits. buses, trains, and light rails. people don't want the same routes everydays of their life. they want to get differance ways to get there. that why their drive they own ways. Legislations saying that NO ONE ever want Mass Transit, because of they want differance way to get there. but it will cost money for gas, but it's up to them. so let build more Freeways, State Roads, City Roads, and Parking Lots. Legislation's Committee Mister Robin Vos said that NO one ever ride Mass Transins. it's waste of money for empty bus, and train. I'm still taken Metra's train from Kenosha to Waukegan, Glencoe, Evanston, Ravenwood. then I take an CTA to what ever I go in Chicago.
James Meyer July 30, 2012 at 04:23 PM
So if we just build us some roads jobs will come? Gosh if it is that simple...

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