In 1981 the economy in Will County was flat on its back. The County’s unemployment rate was 18%; Joliet’s, 26.5%. Steel mills and other manufacturing plants closed. Caterpillar went from 7,000 employees to under 3,000. The decommissioning of the Joliet Arsenal resulted in the loss of over 8,000 jobs. Everywhere you looked, there were vacant commercial and industrial buildings. Will County’s future did not take sunglasses to look at – things were already quite dim.
But local business leaders refused to dwell on the past. The original CED, Greater Joliet, Inc., was formed in 1981, funded by local businesses. Five years later, the Joliet/Will County Center for Economic Development was created to serve all of Will County and its thirty-seven municipalities.
What has happened to the Will County economy since then is nothing short of amazing. While the CED has been the catalyst for helping thousands of companies expand and locate in the County creating tens of thousands of jobs, the public-private partnership between business, labor, and government has been the secret sauce to our success.
Consider some of the projects on which the CED has had its fingerprints in the past 40 years: The I-355 Extension/Veterans Memorial Highway, the development of two state of the art cargo facilities in the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, multiple studies on the impact of becoming the largest inland port in North America including the Will County Community Freight Mobility Plan, creation of the I-80 Coalition to accelerate the reconstruction and expansion of the I-80 Corridor from Minooka to New Lenox and securing state funding to pay for the project.
Add to that the formation of the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority to redevelop a superfund site into the 20,000-acre Midewin Tall Grass Prairie, the Abraham Lincoln National Veteran’s Cemetery, the BNSF’s Logistics Park Chicago and the Prairie View Land Fill.
The real story of the CED’s work is you, our Investors. Without your commitment of time and financial support over the years, our County and our communities would not have the assets necessary for residents to enjoy a high quality of life, good paying jobs, excellent schools, investments in infrastructure, balanced government budgets and some of the best recreational facilities in the region.
The true legacy of the CED is bringing together our partners in business, labor, government, health care, transportation, and other sectors to identify challenges, find solutions and take the actions to get it done.
Thank you for your continued support.
President & CEO