Public officials, business leaders and community advocates alike have acknowledged the significance of the transportation/logistics industry growth that has occurred in Will County. With its concentration of transportation assets, industrial base and growing distribution function, Will County has taken shape as an Inland Port in the past decade. Not unlike traditional coastal ports, Will County facilitates the movement of freight on a large scale. Growth in freight capacity has established Will County as an important link in global supply chains and elevated Will County’s role in the regional economy. Attempts to measure the impacts of its Inland Port status point to the fact that Will County’s situation is unique and has not reached its full potential.
Some facts to consider:
- Will County is located approximately 35 miles southwest of Chicago, the nation’s prime transportation hub and largest city in the Great Lakes mega-region
- Will County is home to a truly multi-modal transportation network with six Class I Railroads (BNSF, UP, CSX, CN, NS & IC), Interstates 80, 55, 57 & 355, an active inland waterway route, and a well-developed regional trail system
- Will County is positioned to lead in intermodal transportation with investments by BNSF and UP in major new intermodal facilities surrounded by acres of industrial parks and planned infrastructure improvements
- Will County was the fastest growing county in the State of Illinois in the last decade gaining nearly 175,000 residents
- Will County has 12,528 jobs in the transportation/logistics sector in 2014 with an average wage of $52,469
While Will County’s success in attracting the logistics industry has been an important driver of its success in the past decade, the build-out of privately-owned freight-generating facilities has been accompanied by some adverse impacts as well. In order to fully assess the impacts, the Will County CED completed an Inland Port Impact Study in 2010. The Executive Summary contains both findings and recommendations for future action that can maximize the benefits of Will County’s inland port while minimizing any negative impacts.
The Inland Port Impact Study makes a case for adopting a coordinated approach to addressing the opportunities and challenges associated with inland port development in Will County. There is currently no single oversight authority as there is for traditional coastal ports. Adopting a strategic, coordinated approach will encourage investment with a high return in terms of quality of life and economic competitiveness. A CED initiative in 2006 to develop a Model Container Ordinance for Will County is an example of a cooperative approach among business and government for mitigating an issue with county-wide impact.
In early 2012, the Will County Inland Port Infrastructure Analysis was completed. This report established a resource base of factual information and data related to regulations and infrastructure, to assist in addressing future maintenance and capacity expansion needs.
The CED has adopted a Transportation Blueprint for Will County, calling for a coordinated plan to address transportation priorites in the region, develop funding solutions, and advocate for specific projects deemed essential for economic development. Currently, the CED is working on the Will County Freight Council, providing a unified voice to offer guidance and advice to policy and decision makers on how the freight industry can best be served in the county. The CED has also been appointed to sit on the Illinois State Freight Advisory Council.
Will County’s future as an inland port is the focus of the CED’s 8th Annual Global Logistics Summit scheduled for September 16, 2014. Through its history, this event has raised the profile of issues facing the transportation/logistics industry both locally and nationally and provided a forum for a large number of logistics professionals seeking information on supply chain, workforce and transportation trends.
Inland Port Study Executive Summary
Model Container Ordinance
COALITION FOR AMERICA’S GATEWAYS AND TRADE CORRIDORS
The Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) was established to bring national attention to the need to significantly expand U.S. freight transportation capabilities and to work toward solutions for this growing national challenge. Our sole purpose is to raise public recognition and Congressional awareness of this need and to promote sufficient funding in federal legislation for trade corridors, gateways, intermodal connectors and freight facilities.
Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors