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Olympia Fields hosts CSEDC winter forum


President Meyers-Martin provided updates on Olympia Fields’ 6-point comprehensive strategy including: a town center master plan by the Metra Station; a medical campus to market to new businesses and enhance the expanding Franciscan Health Center; a Meijer shadow site master plan facing Vollmer Road, proposed development in the Lincoln-394 Enterprise Zone and last year’s grand opening of Walmart, a business that created 350 jobs and generates a sales tax base of $65-$75 million annually. Click here for the construction video or here for her presentation slides.

Another Olympia Fields community leader brought news of Franciscan Health hospitals in the village and Chicago Heights. Allan M. Spooner is the new president and chief executive officer of the two hospitals. He is leading the reorganization as they merge all of their inpatient services to the Olympia Fields location. The Chicago Heights facility will continue to provide outpatient care and Franciscan ExpressCare will provide 24-hour urgent care at a separate site in Chicago Heights. All three sites will be redeveloped with a $137 million phase 1 investment, he said. Phase 2 involves beefing up the ambulatory process.

Neal Heybeck brought news from another south suburban community: Harvey, where FUCHS Lubricants is expanding. FUCHS is the global lubricants partner of the automotive industry that has 10 grease plants world-wide They plan to expand the current total capacity of 85,500 tons by 10 tons in the near future. They have hired five new workers for the Harvey site and expect to add an additional 15-20 as their expansion progresses. See the presentation slides here.

Midwest High Speed Rail Association Executive Director Rick Hamish brought news of a more regional nature: “CrossRail” is the association’s vision to create a high-capacity, multi-purpose passenger rail corridor through Chicago and Cook County by upgrading the existing assets. Cross-Rail Chicago proposes coordination between the Chicago Transit Authority, Pace and Metra to create a unified, countywide transportation network that may be piloted through the expansion of the Metra Electric line, the Metra North Central service to O’Hare via existing connections through Union Station, and the 16th Street tracks that would allow for direct rides from South Cook County to Northwest Cook County.

A unified, cross-jurisdictional planning effort is needed to create the core of metro-Chicago’s transit system and the heart of a re-energized Midwest passenger rail network, he said. The City of Chicago, several suburbs, and several state departments of transportation have high-priority transportation needs within the Chicago Metro area. Today, those needs are being looked at separately, resulting in several multi-billion dollar projects that overlap and sometimes compete. The CrossRail plan combines these markets into a series of coordinated projects. As a result, the overall cost is lower and the combined impact is greater. More riders will use the system and political support for funding is easier to achieve. Click here for his presentation slides.

Governors State University Director and Curator Geoff Bates presented regional news of a different nature – the Southland Arts, Municipalities, and Business Alliance’s (SAMBA) inaugural Let Them Eat Jazz Festival. It’s a region-wide, jazz themed calendar of activity incorporating performances and visual arts presentations, exclusive weekend itineraries including some of the finest lodging and food the Southland has to offer. Please click here for the schedule, here for the presentation slides and here for a flyer to share or distribute in your communities.

SSMMA Deputy Executive Director of Economic Development and CSEDC Executive Director Reggie Greenwood offered regional loan information. The CP504/SBA 504 Loan Program is designed to help small businesses grow. It’s important to know what a “small business” really is, because many companies, especially manufacturing companies, do not see their businesses as “small.” Small businesses, in the context of the CP504/SBA 504 loan, can be quite large. A company can have up to $5 million in net profits or $15 million in net worth and up to 500 employees and still be considered a small business. Over 95 percent of the privately held businesses in Illinois fall into this category. The 504 loan program is designed to help businesses receive affordable financing for major purchases. SBA financing is available for up to 40 percent of the deal, with a fixed interest rate on a 10 year term (for machinery and equipment, 20 for real estate). These types of monetary changes can often increase production capacity. Due to new SBA regulations, there is also a great opportunity to refinance existing real property using the SBA 504 program. The Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation is collaborating with two regional SBA CSEDC investors to promote these opportunities to finance new investments in the southern suburbs.

On another note, CSEDC invites the manufacturing community to a complimentary breakfast event CSEDC is hosting on February 16th with Chicago law firm Much Shelist and several other partners, exclusively for manufacturing industry leaders in Illinois. Jim Schultz, CEO of the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation will be the featured guest. Call Holly @ 708.922.4604 for a registration link.

The forum closed with new South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association Executive Director Kristi DeLaurentiis reaching out to the business and municipal communities to continue building progress in the southern suburbs. CSEDC is the economic development arm of SSMMA.

We thank all who participated and attended this information-packed quarterly forum. In addition, we gratefully acknowledge the Village of Olympia Fields for hosting it and to CSEDC Chairman Michael Scholefield for emceeing it. The next on is scheduled for April 28.

More photos are here.

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