Nearly 230 business leaders, elected officials, strategists, media representatives and local residents met at University Park’s University Golf Club and Conference Center on Nov. 16, 2012 to brainstorm about land banking, a financial instrument called the Development Fund, and assorted industrial and manufacturing economic issues at the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation’s quarterly forum.
University Park Mayor Vivian Covington hosted the event and shared news about some of the town’s economic development projects. One is new university housing projects for Governors State University 2014 transition into a four year institution (click here to read a related story). Others are the economic growth potential of the I-57/-Stuenkel Road Interchange and the University Park Transportation Program.
The new Southland Community Loan Fund and the South Suburban Land Bank and Development Authority were other topics discussed. Oak Forest Community Development Director Adam Dotson provided a definition of land banks: • They can acquire property through purchase or it can receive property. • They can hold property and manage it. • They can sell for profit so other properties can be acquired and managed with the returns.
Land banks exist to administer a regional economic development tool for municipalities with limited manpower and financial resources to manage and rehabilitate abandoned, vacant or foreclosed properties. Thus far, the bank’s charter communities include Oak Forest, Park Forest and Blue Island, and they invite other towns to participate.
The new Southland Community Loan Fund is positioning itself to offer low-interest loans to help support development or redevelopment projects from the land bank and other housing inventory, as well as mixed-use, industrial or manufacturing projects, particularly those along transit hubs, said Andy Geer at the forum. He is the vice president and market leader of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
The $6 million loan fund that Geer hopes to grow to $15 million provides low-cost, flexible loans and hands-on technical assistance to community development organizations for affordable housing and economic/ commercial development. In addition, the fund supports challenging projects that help revitalize low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and suburban communities throughout metropolitan Chicago, aiding families and communities along the path toward economic stability, prosperity and sustainability.
Also speaking at the forum was Rubin Kuznitsky. The vice president of operations for Esmark Steel Group promoted manufacturing as a career choice to help fill a gaping skills gap in the industry where there are far more jobs than there are trained and capable workers.
Edward Warbick of Paine/Wetzel World Wide Real Estate Services provided a verbal tour of the Southland industrial market, pointing out new developments such as Winpak packaging company in South Chicago Heights and Sauk Village, a Clorax bleach facility in University Park and the M. Block distribution facility in Tinley Park.
Finally, SSMMA and CSEDC Director of Economic Development Reggie Greenwood wrapped up the forum with a request for participation and investment in the CSEDC’s work to build upon the Southland.
Click here to read a related story on NWI.com.
[box type=”info” border=”full”]Download:
The CSEDC Forum presentation in PDF
The South Suburban Land Bank and Development Authority presentation in PowerPoint
The Southland Fund presentation in PowerPoint[/box]