CNT Unveils Place-Based Vision for Economic Prosperity

Prospering in Place-smWith gas prices already setting records, Congress threatening to cut mass transit funding, and the Chicago region arguably losing its competitive edge, CNT has released a call to action that presents a new vision for building economic prosperity in the Chicago region with an analysis that identifies place-based transportation and community development investments that would reinvigorate economic growth.

Prospering in Place builds on the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s visionary GO TO 2040 plan, translating that blueprint into a detailed framework that prioritizes specific places and projects that connect people to jobs.

The report documents how past development patterns have harmed the regional economy. Of Chicago’s 25 top industries, for example, the region is outperforming the nation in only five. Hallmarks of the regional economy—manufacturing, freight, logistics, finance/insurance/real estate, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals—lag behind national performance.

The report shows how to turn that situation around by exploiting the region’s unique assets and advantages: a robust freight rail network, the second largest passenger rail system in the country, vacant land near rail for development, and demographic demand for a vibrant urban lifestyle.

Places matter. But we’ve disregarded the region’s historic, compact, transit-served neighborhoods in favor of urban sprawl, cars, and cheap gas. The cost of this shift was less apparent in good times, but stagnant incomes, high unemployment, and historic fuel prices have exposed its failings.

The analysis prioritizes economic development opportunities based on three strategies: transit-oriented development (TOD), cargo-oriented development (COD), and job centers that need better transit and recommends how to implement these priority strategies.

Moving forward, we need to live closer to where we work, take transit more often than not, and strengthen walkable neighborhoods that meet needs locally. This report shows where and how to begin.

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