Northeastern Illinois is a global center of commerce with many powerful assets, but our region must find solutions for numerous challenges to ensure sustainable prosperity and quality of life. The region’s recovery from the previous economic recession has been lackluster. In addition, federal and state sources of funding for infrastructure and services have diminished. These trends have resulted in resource constraints for governments across metropolitan Chicago. This unstable and unsustainable fiscal situation led to inadequate support for services and infrastructure and created obstacles to long-term planning and implementation activities.
As stated elsewhere in this chapter, overcoming constrained resources and stagnant growth will require innovative, collaborative action from the entire region. When the region’s communities, leaders, local governments, infrastructure providers, civic groups, residents, and businesses come together, they can meet these challenges and achieve beneficial outcomes. As the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), CMAP can collaborate with and convene partners to better coordinate investments in the region and promote economic growth and opportunities for all residents. Past collaboration among regional leaders has yielded better strategies for economic growth. For example, the newly created CRGC is an independent nonprofit entity formed by Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties and the City of Chicago as an important step to improve coordination of their respective economic development organizations. Collaboration on infrastructure funding has attracted federal investment in projects like the Riverwalk in downtown Chicago and some elements of CREATE.
Collaborative endeavors also require funding that can be spent to support comprehensive goals. CMAP can directly implement ON TO 2050 goals by convening partners to collaboratively administer UWP, CMAQ, TAP, STP-L, and other federal transportation funding programs for which the agency is responsible. CMAP also provides technical assistance to local governments as well as ongoing research and new practices relevant to plan priorities, helping advance the principles of GO TO 2040 and ON TO 2050. Yet CMAP’s ability to fulfill its comprehensive planning mandate is limited because most of the agency's funding cannot be used for activities beyond transportation and certain land use issues. Similarly, public entities addressing a range of issues, such as economic development, public health, stormwater management, or housing choice may find implementation stymied by lack of funds or restrictions on using those dollars to support comprehensive priorities.
The following describes strategies and associated actions to implement this recommendation.