The climate is changing at a global scale, with significant implications for the built environment, economy, ecosystems, and people of this region. We have a substantive resource in the water access provided by Lake Michigan, and high quality natural areas to help reduce the progress of climate change. These assets may help the region thrive as other parts of the nation struggle. To ensure continued success will necessitate re-envisioning how road, water, and energy infrastructure is built and maintained, preserving and protecting natural and agricultural areas, implementing stormwater best management practices, and creating social networks and resources to give residents tools to withstand climate impacts.
New information technology and data processing capacity are having far-reaching effects. Road and transit agencies can better track current conditions, reroute drivers or transit service, and manage their networks. Businesses can enhance processes and supply chains to gain a competitive edge. Residents have growing options to get around without owning a car, to work from anywhere, and purchase goods. These technologies will also change the nature of work, demanding new skills and different training for today and tomorrow’s workers.
People are living longer lives in general. To provide a strong quality of life for our growing senior population, the region will need to continue adapting transit services, capitalize on emerging transportation and communication technology, and create more places with amenities and services in easy reach.
Our population is also diversifying. If current trends continue, the region’s population will be comprised of a majority of persons of color within the next decade. Diversity is an economic strength that the region can capitalize on, while taking steps to ensure access to economic opportunity for all residents.
The region will always be successful by providing many types of places to live, from dense urban nodes, to suburban residential neighborhoods, to rural towns. But the region must also accommodate increased demand for places where a car is optional and residents can walk to shopping, entertainment, and services. While development since 2000 has not concentrated in areas with strong transit availability, buildings under construction today throughout the region are increasingly located in areas with access to transit, or with substantial existing development and infrastructure.