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SSMMA sets the table to celebrate the Chicago Community Trust’s 99th anniversary

On May 12, more than 10,000 Chicagoans who care about the metropolitan region sat down for a meal at various locations to talk about Chicago’s future.

The “On the Table” event was part of  the Chicago Community Trust’s commemoration of its 99th anniversary. It brought together thousands of Chicagoland residents on a single day at multiple locations, to share a meal and participate in civic-minded conversations about the future of our communities. (#OntheTable2014)

SSMMA hosted two tables on how investing in transportation infrastructure spurs economic development, and developing a robust workforce for advanced manufacturing in the Calumet region. Please click here  to view photos.

Here are a few key messages from the transportation table:

Transportation infrastructure is facing significant funding challenges on federal and state levels. What can be done? • Collaboration is the key in gaining support; success breeds success. • For SSMMA, communities communicating that they are a group caught the attention and support of County, Federal and State governments. • Can we develop a bi-state economic development program that is a win-win for Illinois and Indiana? Northwest Indiana and south suburban Cook County have a great deal in common. For example: A bi-state development authority would have preeminence. • Question: Why isn’t Northwest Indiana part of Pace? • We’re missing a key opportunity by playing up state divisions. We need to identify our shared destiny. Overall theme: We need to “right-size” collaborations by bringing them down to a local level in order to build stronger, safer, more sustainable communities. A geographic area bounded by Interstate 80, Interstate 65, the Illiana and Interstate 55 creates a powerful base for a development authority.

Here are a few key messages from the workforce table:

The Midwest is dramatically improving its brand in the Chicago area by becoming an epicenter for advanced manufacturing and logistics through a regional collaboration led by employers, universities, community colleges, high schools, middle schools, municipalities and  community groups.  Building upon the Calumet Green Manufacturing Partnership and the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium, this collaboration will create a regional network of “maker labs” (the tools, space and training to help learn new skills and bring  ideas to life) and “fab labs” (digital fabrication labs) that will connect to the regional Digital Manufacturing and Design Institute to support the expansion of existing companies, attract new businesses, and support entrepreneurship in “making things.” Through a coordinated program that supports education and training in science, technology, engineering, and math, the Calumet will become the Midwest hub for people and companies making and moving products around the world.

The Chicago Tribune ran a related editorial on May 13th: For months, we’ve heard from legions of readers about their brightest ideas to solve the problems that confront Chicago. Mid-Monday, we put faces to some of those voices. We invited 10 readers to join us for lunch at the Tribune Editorial Board. A second group of guests came to the Tribune for dinner. These two were among hundreds of Monday mealtime conversations involving thousands of Chicagoans, under the auspices of The Chicago Community Trust’s On The Table event…Please click here to read  more.

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