Economic Development


No issue is of greater importance to the vitality and future of the Chicago region than the issue of economic development.  The region has historically been very successful in attracting substantial investment, but over the past several years the national recession has severely impacted the local economy.  Very badly hurt were the industries that, in large part, made Chicago--steel, auto production, and construction.

The projects listed in the following sections will help the effort to shift from an economy based on heavy industry to an information and "High Tech" industrial environment. In addition, we must strive to retain and improve our existing industrial base.


The ICG commuter railroad is currently the "High Tech" railroad in Illinois. It has computerized fare collection, energy  efficient electric propulsion, modern self propelled rail cars, and elevated passenger platforms.  The railroad provides the highest level of service in the northeastern Illinois region, with frequent service on a timely basis.
The land uses that have developed in the corridor include an impressive number of universities.  The University of Chicago, Governors State University, Chicago State University, Roosevelt University, and a number of downtown campuses of other Chicago colleges have direct access to the railroad.  The Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois at Chicago are also near the railroad.

The ICG line also serves a number of office research and industrial areas.  Michigan Avenue, the loop, and Illinois Center anchor the northern terminus of the railroad,  The Olympia Fields Office Research Park and the Governors Gateway Industrial Park form the southern terminus of the commuter rail service.

The line also serves the majority of the Chicago area cultural institutions, including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute, the Chicago Museum of Natural History, Soldiers Field, and McCormick Place. The beaches of Lake Michigan and the lake front park system are also visible to the train rider.  In addition, the line also serves a variety of residential areas, providing housing for all income levels. 

The ICG Commuter Line is the "HIGH TECH" Corridor in Northeastern Illinois.  Efforts should be made by government and business to capitalize on this vital corridor, with future "HIGH TECH" development encouraged at existing and new stations along the railroad. The ICG can serve as a "vertical elevator" for these developments.

How do you develop a high tech corridor? You write a paper and announce to the world that you have one.  We have a high tech corridor formed by the Illinois Central Gulf and Metra Rail system, and we need market the high tech corridor.


The economic hardships presently impacting Chicago and the south suburbs are largely beyond the control of local government and local business.  The region was and is the "broad shoulders" of the midwest, with an economy based in part on steel production, automotive and heavy equipment manufacturing, and construction. The area is slowly making the transference from heavy industry into an economy relying more heavily on computers, "High Tech", and services.   

Governors State University could and should be a major factor in facilitating this change.  The University lies at the end of the Illinois Central Gulf Commuter Line -- a "High Tech" Corridor.  The university has ample land with good sewer and water service.  The Comprehensive Plan of the Village of University Park calls for the development of an Office Research Park at the north end of the campus.
Universities in the past have been involved in the development of office research parks. Faculty and students can contribute to the research efforts of laboratories in the office park.   Researchers can, in turn, teach classes, developing a mutually profitable symbiotic relationship.
The potential job development would be of substantial benefit to the south suburbs. A mandate of the university is to serve minorities  and the economically disadvantaged.  A quality, nationally recognized office research park on the campus would help to achieve those goals.    
The University property is adjacent to the huge Governors Gateway Industrial Park, Interstate 57, and the ICG Metra Station.  The entire area should be marketed under one name.  It is proposed that the 9 square mile area encompassing the University and industrial park be named the UNIVERSITY TECHNOLOGY PARK.  It would become the world's largest university technology park (At least I think it would be the largest, since I think that we just invented the concept).   

The University Technology Park would be located in the center in the High Tech Corridor defined by Governor Thompson. This corridor is anchored at each end by the University of Illinois at Champaign and Chicago. The University Technology Park could become a major factor in revitalizing the economy of the southern suburbs, Joliet, and Kankakee.


Joliet Junior College is located immediately northeast of one of the most heavily travelled intersections in mid America-the intersection of Interstate 80 and Interstate 55.  JUCO also serves a region with a great need for modern employment facilities. JUCO has an excellent record in training quality workers, but to date that ability and the location of the college has not produced significant economic development at the road intersection.

The lack of economic development at the intersection is largely a function of access to the land adjacent to the freeways-there simply is no convenient access from the interstates to the land immediately around the crossroads. The intersection is one of the few in the Chicago area that has not generated office development.
It is suggested that this situation could be corrected by building an intersection at I-80 and Houbolt Road and constructing a frontage road from Houbolt to the frontage road on the east of I-55. This would provide convenient access from the two interstates to both JUCO and prime development property.

The land presently has excellent sewer and water availability and is immediately adjacent to the Joliet Junior College. The college and the office/manufacturing facilities that would develop would have a symbiotic relationship,  JUCO would train workers; managers of the new firms would provide their expertise and experience to the college.

Implementation of the necessary road improvements and park development will require concerted effort on the part of both government, private land owners, developers, financial institutions, economic development groups, and the Joliet Junior College.  It is suggested here that interested parties begin discussion and research into the feasibility of this concept.

The skilled labor force required for new development certainly exists in central Will County.  Joliet Junior College can certainly assist in any new required training efforts.  The park location provides  excellent access to the Chicago regional markets and to the midwest United States. Labor rates are lower in Will County than in other collar counties. 

With the increasing sophistication of information transference, it no longer makes economic sense to transport people great distances to and from jobs. Transporting workers to the loop will gradually give way to hiring workers in suburban areas to work close to their homes.  Companies will then simply transmit data to and from the downtown areas of Chicago and other economic centers.

Offices and manufacturing facilities to be located in the park could be of many different types, but it would seem logical to emphasize electronic manufacturing, data processing, and computer support facilities. The types of industries that would evolve should match the specialties of the college.  Of course the programs offered by the college would evolve to serve the needs of employment centers in the park.     

Bringing this proposed Joliet Junior College Office/Manufacturing Park into reality will require years of investigation and effort. But the park is a viable concept that would improve the entire region.  It should be pursued with vigor. The park could become a major employer in Will County assist the region in gaining a fair share of office and "High Tech" development.


This proposal is very similar to the Joliet proposal.  Interstate 57 crosses the Kankakee River at the south end of the City of Kankakee.  The area is very attractive. The pristine and natural Kankakee River forms the northern and eastern boundary of the area. The Kankakee Community College and the Shapiro Development are located immediately west of the proposed park.  The Kankakee Airport is two miles south of the area.

The construction of a new interchange at River Road and I-57 provide the opportunity to develop a quality officer park bounded by the River, I-57, River Road, and the Kankakee Community College.  The land is presently owned by the Kankakee Park District.  A true Office Research Park could be developed, with actual parks surrounding the office development.

The River frontage would of course be preserved for pedestrian and boating access.  A Marina should be developed.  The Community College could provide the training necessary for developing a skilled labor pool.   


McCormick Place is an excellent facility for a wide variety of trade shows, special events, and entertainment.  It thus provides a substantial number of jobs, both directly at the facility itself, and indirectly, through money spent by convention visitors.
The building has one of the loveliest panoramas in the city. It overlooks Burnham Harbor, Meigs Field, Lake Michigan, and the Planetarium.  However, instead of capitalizing on this view, the lake side of the building is devoted to a truck loading dock. The casual visitor never sees the lake and never observes the spectacular view of sailboats, airplanes, and bicyclists maneuvering along the stunning park and harbor. The situation is comparable to a picture window with the shades always drawn.
The need for additional restaurant facilities at McCormick Place is also apparent.  The fast food and dining locations in the building are limited--certainly not what a world class city should offer to the large number of visitors who spend substantial portions of their time in the city's convention center. Most waterfront cities have dining facilities on the water.   
This situation could be corrected by the establishment of a "RESTAURANT ROW" to be constructed on the lake and downtown side of McCormick Place. Restaurant Row should be located just below the existing facility, just above the truck loading docks, or projected out from McCormick Place on the same grade as the main convention center floor.
Development of Restaurant Row would be a public/ private endeavor keeping tax expenditures to a minimum.  If correctly planned and properly marketed, Restaurant Row should provide a substantial profit to both entrepreneurs and to the city.  Likewise, the facility would certainly make conventions more pleasant. The facility would be similar to the successful "festival marketplace" developments that have occurred in numerous cities.
Restaurant Row should also attract substantial number of diners from residents of the region.  There are very few places in the city where one can dine overlooking the lake. Restaurant Row would become a festival marketplace for people who wished to view the boats and airplanes in the harbor and lake.
Restaurant Row is a viable concept that would enhance McCormick Place, improve its attractiveness for future conventions, and provide additional revenue to the city and to the businessmen who would invest in the facilities.  It would provide a place for Chicagoans to dine overlooking the lake.  Restaurant Row should be developed.   
Chicago is justly proud of its lake front, which for the most part is free of land development.  The lake front is dedicated to park and beach for the most part, with only the north portion of the city's lake front developed with apartments. The lake front belongs to all people, city and suburban.
It is suggested here that the lake front, though beautiful, could be improved if two or three areas were permitted to be developed with restaurants, hotels, and apartments.  If the development was carefully conceived, it could bring in the city substantial economic development while actually improving the lake front for all Chicagoans.

This idea is, of course, in direct conflict with the lake front preservation ethic, It will be severely criticized by many. However, please consider the following with an open mind. If developers were permitted to build three peninsulas of no more than one half mile wide from north to south, and perhaps a two mile extension into the lake, new quality communities would result.  The existing public beaches and parks would be preserved, and the entire perimeter of the new development would also come into the public domain as parks and beaches.  A portion of the perimeter of the new development would also become new harbors for boats. Thus, with little public expenditure, Chicago would receive additional lake frontage, beaches, harbors, housing and substantial new development dollars.

The locations for such new developments are subject to many factors beyond the scope of this paper.  They include environmental considerations, depth of the Lake bottom, proximity of other development, transit accessibility, etc. Logical locations might include Lake Shore Drive at McCormick Place, at 55th Street, and Lake Shore Drive at Fullerton.
Locations south of the loop would appear to be especially interesting because of the existence of the ICG Commuter Railroad.  Developments could be built to provide access to the railroad, perhaps incorporated into air rights development over the tracks.
Many groups interested in lake front preservation will be opposed to this concept.  But most of the world's great cities on harbors and oceans have some development in close proximity to the water. If the developments were well designed, they could benefit all Chicagoans.


Navy Pier should be developed as soon as possible into a commercial festival market place.  Many other cities have developed quality festival market places in old harbor side facilities.  The revenue, jobs, and ambience generated make these type of developments very attractive.

The harbor side developments in Baltimore and Norfolk transformed the harbor areas of those communities into the focal points of their regions.  Navy Pier could achieve the same results.  Part of the lack of movement on converting the pier into  commercial uses hinges on the magnitude of the development.  The huge costs of a total redevelopment make it too difficult to begin.  It is suggested here that the facility could be developed incrementally, simply by letting each entrepreneur develop his facility, one piece at a time. 

This approach can lead to poorly planned, disheveled development. However, if development were properly planned and managed, it could bring the facility into use in the near future in a quality manner.  


Intersections of interstate highways have become significant generators of economic development in urban areas.  The freeways provide access to large numbers of people. Offices and commercial areas cluster around the intersections.
Most development occurs when a full interchange is established and where an interstate highway intersects a major highway.  Less development is generated where the interstate has only a one way interchange with an intersecting road. Virtually no development is generated by the intersection of two freeways, unless another interchange with a local road is nearby.
Since interstate interchanges are important economic development generators, it is imperative that opportunities for new  interchanges be carefully considered and evaluated. The current Interstate interchange location is not forever cast in stone. New interchanges can and should be added if, after careful evaluation, it can be shown that important economic development will be generated.

A number of opportunities for new interchanges exist in the southern suburbs. The development of some of the following interchanges could lead to major office and research development in the southern suburbs similar to the development occurring in the western and northwestern portions of the region.  The following is a brief description and analysis of the potential of some of these possibilities.

I-57 WITH I-294

For reasons that will forever escape logical land planning consideration, no interchange was constructed at the intersection of I-294 and I-57.  All traffic wishing to interconnect on these two highways must travel east to I-80 and then double back.  The resultant travel adds time, cost, energy usage, and air pollution.

A new interchange would correct these problems. However, no economic development for the area would result unless access was provided at, or near, the intersection for local traffic. Although difficult, local access could be obtained at several points. This could result in substantial economic development in an area which could use the activity.

There are no interchanges on I-57 between Route 30 and Monee Road. Traffic at the Route 30 interchange has become increasingly heavy. New interchanges should be built at Sauk Trail/Laraway Road and University Park Way/ Steunkel Road.   
Sauk Trail is attractive because of the proximity of a large population base and because the Sauk Trail/Laraway Road has become a substantial east west road. This intersection should be constructed.
University Park Way/Steunkel Road is an excellent choice for a new interchange.  It is located at the north end of the growing Governors Gateway Industrial Park,  It would become the major entrance to Governors State University, the Metra Electric University Park Commuter Rail Station, and Exchange Avenue, which has become a significant east west traffic artery. It would also provide  excellent access to the proposed office research park at the north end of Governors State, and to the proposed University Technology Park.
The new interchange is in the University Park Comprehensive Plan. Only a half diamond interchange would be required with access to and from the north.  The interchange would reduce traffic on Route 30, promote to Industrial Park, and improve access to Governors State University.

There is no intersection on I-80 from Laraway Road in Joliet until Minooka, except for the intersection of I-55.  The intersection of I-55 with I-80 is primarily undeveloped farm land. The economic development potential of the area is substantial.

The Joliet Junior College is located in the northeast quadrant of the intersection.  JUCO has a substantial history and interest in training workers.  There is substantial sewer and water capacity near the campus. The Junior College and the nearby Joliet Airport could be the nucleus for a substantial office/manufacturing park built along I-55 and I-80 - if the access from I-80 is improved.
Access from I-55 is already adequate.  A major intersection with I-55 at Route 52 provides good access to the frontage road to the east of I-55.  The addition of a new interchange at Houbolt Road, together with the construction of a frontage road along I-80 connecting to the frontage road along I-80 would open this area for development.
The development of new interstate intersections in the south suburbs could facilitate major office and research expansions in the area similar in scope to the developments occurring to the north and west.  To bring these proposed interchanges into actuality will require concerted effort on the part of local government and state representatives.  The economic development potential is substantial, however, and these highway intersection improvements should be vigorously pursued.


O'Hare Airport is the busiest airport in the world with tremendous numbers of affluent individuals flying to and through Chicago. Approximately one half of the passenger traffic at the airport is composed of people changing planes and not leaving the airport.
The largest and best shopping center in Chicago could be developed within and adjacent to the terminal.  A shopping center that would mix the best parts of Water Tower Place and Woodfield could be developed.
The number and affluence of passengers would guarantee a market for the shopping center. As the reputation of the center grew, air travelers would schedule short lay overs in the terminal to take advantage of the shopping opportunities. The income to the region would be largely new dollars from outside the area and should generate substantial new sales tax revenues.
An argument against the center is the concern that it might attract additional drivers to the already congested roadway system.  This is a valid concern, but can best be addressed by the fact that parking at O'Hare is too expensive for workers and for most casual shoppers.  Most people working at the new shopping center will come by way of the CTA train or Pace bus system.  Most shoppers will be from airline travelers.  
The shopping center may even help to alleviate peak rush hour traffic. Air travelers returning home at rush hour may well choose to shop, browse or dine at the shopping center during rush hour and travel home after the peak period.
The ultimate size of the center is difficult to project, but the center would be guaranteed a huge number of affluent people walking past stores and shops.  The center could initially begin with one major department store and numerous shops developed within some of the high ceiling spaces in the terminal.  It could be expanded into other areas as needed.
The mix of shopping is also of interest.  A standard upscale shopping center such as Water Tower Place would probably be appropriate.  Short term entertainment with movies might also be needed.  
Numerous people know Chicago only from their trips through O'Hare Airport. By adding a pleasant, world class shopping center to the airport, we can bring substantial revenue and jobs into the region and greatly enhance the image of the region.

It is widely recognized that a domed stadium is a desirable attribute for U.S. cities.  Chicago has long sought an enclosed stadium.  The high costs of the construction of domed stadiums have thus far precluded development.  The purpose of this essay is to outline a new type of stadium which can be constructed in high density downtown areas.  
As any developer knows, increased density often brings higher revenues.  More units per acre is a basic developmental rule to spread land and infrastructure costs across a higher number of tennants.  This rule, however, is usually ignored in stadium development.  Most stadiums are simple playing fields surrounded by a few stories of seating, which are seldom used. It is, therefore, difficult to develop new stadiums in downtown areas. They are generally constructed in lower cost areas outside the city central business district, with heavy public subsidies.
The recent construction of sky boxes in Soldier's Field illustrates a simple increase in density. The rental rate of the sky boxes is substantial.  The sky boxes themselves provide a comfortable way of observing events. The initial development of one story of sky boxes was followed by a second story. The success of the sky boxes points the way for future stadiums.
Clustering modern high rise buildings around a stadium would permit the interior side of the buildings to function as sky boxes.  The buildings would combine traditional seating around the playing field with high rise office, commercial, or residential development on all sides of the stadium. A hotel
convention center would be an obvious use for part or all of the buildings surrounding the stadium.  Office space in the structure would become the ultimate status address, with commensurate rents.
The building may or may not be enclosed at the roof.  The structure of the roof is also in question. It could be left open, be a dome, a pyramid, or perhaps rentable floor space. The surrounding building could be cantilevered toward the center, reducing the size and cost of the roof.
The ultimate height of the structures around the stadium depends on market conditions and on how high the structure can be before the view of the field is compromised. Lower space would be the most desirable since it would be closest to the playing field. All interior tennants of the buildings would have an excellent view of the playing field below.  
In concept, the enclosed stadium is similar to the enormous atriums now in vogue in hotels.  The density derived makes possible stadiums in high cost downtown locations.  The actual footprint of the development need be no greater than a  conventional stadium, which is little larger than a city block.
The new stadium should be open to the public and should function as a park atrium when not in use. Concerts, plays, lectures, etc could be conducted.  The stadium would thus become a focal point for activity in a high density downtown location.  
A High-rise Stadium in downtown Chicago is feasible.  It should be built adjacent to or in the Loop so that the existing parking, transit, and service business are used. The downtown location would enhance the loop and central city. It should be constructed.   

Regional shopping centers have become the dominant retail centers of suburban America.  They have captured most of the old downtown and strip center retail dollar. They now face serious challenges from additional competing shopping centers and from discount facilities.

Some shopping centers could evolve into mega centers on their existing sites.  The shopping center in Edmonton, Canada is a prototype of this type of center.  It houses five million square feet of space within its structures and a wide array of entertainment uses.
A typical suburban center has 1,000,000 square feet of retail space surrounded by parking.  Some of these centers could mine the parking lot with additional commercial structures and decked parking.  Some of these centers could increase to 1.5 or even two million square feet of space.
Shopping centers work on the concept of conglomeration. People like to go to facilities that offer a large number of stores and plenty of people to observe and to be observed by. The larger the center, the more likely it will be widely used.

The focus on expansion should not be more of the same, but should focus on one of several different strategies.  A whole wing of a center expansion should focus on entertainment.  A number of restaurants and pubs should be linked with movie theaters, health clubs, recreational centers, swimming pools, etc. to provide an entertainment focus.  This focus would peak at night, thus reducing the amount of new parking decks needed.

These types of developments seem obvious.  It is surprising that it has not been done extensively in Chicago.  But this type of development will eventually come.

Regional economic development has emerged as a major issue for the six county region surrounding Chicago.  The area has historically had a dynamic, growing economy, with a low unemployment rate.  With the exception of the north and northwest suburbs, that enviable situation has eroded over the past few years and has led to the rise of numerous efforts by government and the private sector to analyze and correct the current economic malaise.
The factors leading to the decline of the regional economy are complex and can only be superficially covered here. The solutions to the problem are also complex.  The issue has recently been covered in depth by the "Jobs for Metropolitan Chicago" report published by the Commercial Club of Chicago.
Economic expansion and job growth in the metropolitan area has lagged substantially behind the rest of the nation.  The erosion of jobs has been most marked in manufacturing and transportation, utilities and construction.

Factors leading to the economic decline of the region include a low ratio of return of Federal tax dollars to the area, high cost of labor relative to southern states and other nations, and a lack of interaction among universities, industry, and governments.  The heavy industrial base in the southern portion of the region has declined, in part, because of lowered investment into declining industries.  
The current decline can be viewed as a normal ebb in the economic fortunes of the region.  Chicago was once the hog butcher of the world and once a major brewing center. These industries departed the region, but the vibrant local economy soon replaced the lost jobs.  It could well be that the current economic problems of the region are only temporary and self correcting.  But even if this optimistic premise is correct, the individuals and institutions of the region should act to begin or enhance a turn around in
regional economic activity and jobs.
At virtually all levels, governments have formed economic development commissions or local economic development corporations to lead revitalization efforts for their community.
Community colleges, not-for-profit organizations, and utility and real estate companies have also formed economic development institutions.  These entities vary substantially in focus, financial strength, and ability, but they are a major effort.  In general, these commissions parallel and complement previously existing Chambers of Commerce.         
The individuals hired to lead economic development activities come from a wide variety of backgrounds.  Many city planners that critically reviewed development in the 70's are now charged with attracting and facilitating development.  The individuals staffing community college efforts came from many differing backgrounds, frequently from an academic discipline within the college.  Other agencies are lead by public administrators, politicians, and industrial real estate brokers.  In general, these individuals retain their affiliation with their initial profession and communication among the various agencies is an ongoing problem.  Each type of background has strengths and limitations, but each discipline has valid contributions to make to economic development.
A problem within the economic development field is the rapid
proliferation of agencies. A major growth industry in the region is the formation of economic development commissions. The Metropolitan Housing and Planning Commission published a directory of the 120 economic development agencies then present in the region.  It is estimated that there are now more than 200 such agencies. Many of these agencies are in direct competition
with one another for new industry. Sometimes they are unaware of the other agency's existence.
Governmental economic development agencies parallel chambers of commerce at the village, city, county, and state level.  For a variety of reasons, however, no governmental economic development agency exists to coordinate and lead regional economic development.

This is and remains a major problem for the region. The six county region is, thus, making no concerted effort to lead economic development, relying on local, city and county
efforts and state efforts. This is a mistake. If the region
requires regional planning in transportation, infrastructure
improvements, solid waste, etc, economic development
certainly requires regional leadership.  
A brief examination of competing areas is illustrative. The three county region around St. Joseph, Michigan has a large, active economic development effort, with a principle function to attract Chicago area industries to their area.  A nearby Indiana community has developed an economic development brochure which depicts Indiana throwing a life preserver to industries drowning in state regulations and labor problems in Illinois.  Sun belt and foreign countries actively and successfully seek midwestern industry.

The situation is critical, but the region still maintains most of the assets that led to the growth of the region. Those advantages are summarized as follows:
 Pro business attitudes created by economic development commissions;     
 A skilled labor force;
 Excellent infrastructure, including roads, railroads and utilities;
 An extensive existing economic base;
 Capable universities and laboratories;
 A world class city and its cultural milieu.
To capitalize on these strength, and lead the region to economic health, the following strategy is recommended:
 Develop a forum of meetings for all public and private economic development organizations in the six county region for exchange of ideas, concepts, and information.
 Maintain the competition among economic development agencies while developing a spirit of cooperation among those agencies.  

 Strive to retain and revitalize existing industries while facilitating the development of new industries.
 Develop a detailed regional economic data base, accessible by computer.
 Inform the public debate on what methods of economic
development have been successful in the region.
 Market the region in a positive manner.  Limit references to rust belt, windy city, etc. We are the "Region on the Lake."  The"Region of the Heritage Corridor,"" The city with broad shoulders," etc.
 Improve linkages among universities, research laboratories, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists.
 Develop a world class regional economic development

The region is economically interdependent.  An increase in employment in one portion of the region provides jobs for, other communities.  The region faces tremendous challenges to economic development which require concerted, coordinated leadership at the regional level.  The region should begin that regional leadership immediately.


Most new employment is a result of the establishment of new small business. Many economic development efforts focus on soliciting major companies to construct local facilities, but this effort is many times misplaced.  The entrepreneur accounts for most new business expansion efforts that result in job development. At the same time major firms are usually becoming increasingly efficient and, hence, producing more goods with less workers.
Unfortunately, many new businesses fail within a short time for a variety of reasons.  Lack of capital, poor marketing, lack of a good cost containment program, and many other problems confront new enterprises.
It is proposed that the various community colleges in the Chicago region consider the development of an "Entrepreneur Institute." The institute could be located in the school's business department, but would focus on the problems and needs of fledgling small business. Programs could focus primarily on seminar and other short term training techniques instead of more typical classes.   

The goal to the Entrepreneur Center would be to train and improve the skills of current and would be entrepreneurs.  A conventional associates degree program could be developed, with frequent refresher courses offered.
The Entrepreneur Institute is a viable, low cost way to improve the local economic situation.  Venture businesses will likely be a major force in the recovery of the midwest economy.  The colleges and universities of the region could be a major catalyst in this effort.

One of the ways to avoid increasing road congestion is to
encourage reliance on mass transit, particularly rail transit.  
This can best be accomplished by planning for and providing incentives for intense development at or near rail stations.  
Downtown Chicago is, of course, the prime destination for all
fixed rail systems.  The density of the Central Business District and the cost of parking in the CBD ensures high patronage on the rail systems.
The rail system, thus, encourages residential development at
outlying stations, with the rail system providing transport to
the CBD.  This creates a system with a high degree of use at rush hour, but little use during the balance of the day.   

Train ridership could be increased and road congestion decreased by locating commercial and office uses at commuter rail and rapid transit stations.  Seats on transit systems could be sold twice on in bound trips and the reverse commute would also increase.
The best chances for substantial development is near the intersection of the rail system with a major road and an interstate highway.  Most of these locations are already developed, but there are some areas that have been overlooked.

One of these areas includes the intersection of Interstate 80, Route 45, and the Northeastern Illinois Commuter Railroad Corporation  Rock Island line. This area is located in the Village of Mokena, south of rapidly developing Orland Park. The location is already planned for an office park. The development of a commuter station here, tied to an office park directly adjacent, could lead to a substantial increase in commuters using the rail system instead of driving.
Another location is the intersection of I-294, 130th avenue, and the South Shore Railroad. This area is somewhat isolated and desolate.  An industrial development here could be well served by both the rail and road system.  This area is also a  good location for a major park and ride facility.  

Traffic headed for the loop meets major congestion at this point.  An attractive and visible parking lot located at a new South Shore Railroad Station could attract substantial numbers of new riders.

The intersection of the Burlington Northern Railroad with Route 59 is another area for rail/economic development. The area is part of the rapidly developing Naperville / Aurora area, near the Fox Valley shopping center.  A major office development located adjacent to the new station could attract numerous riders.
The Milwaukee CTA Rapid Transit Line connects O'Hare Airport with the Chicago Loop.  Major Air rights development over the  expressway and tied to existing stations could occur with the right leadership of the city.
Train stations have not generated substantial development in the Chicago region in the recent past.  We should be trying to correct this situation to prevent future road gridlock