McHenry County Tail End of Two Regional Economic Development Agencies

McHenry County hasn’t seen a lot of benefit from regional organizations.

The Regional Transportation Authority comes to mind.

Chicago Transit Authority Chairman Milton Pikarsky became its first Chairman. He was elected Chairman after Waukegan Board member Richard Newland sold out the suburbs. Pikarsky was quoted as saying the reason the RTA was needed was to keep the CTA trains running all night., (The document is somewhere in my RTA files at the Northern Illinois Historical Library).

RTA’s purpose has been to suck money from the suburbs to subsidize the Chicago Transit Authority.

Now, within a two-week period, McHenry County has linked up with economic development efforts in regions in which the county is on the edge.

The first made the front and editorial pages of the Chicago Tribune.

McHenry County Adminstrator Peter Austin is seen next to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on the front page of the January 8, 2023, Chicago Tribune.

Here is the regional agency’s press release:

City of Chicago, Cook County & Six Chicagoland Counties Announce First-Ever

Regional Partnership for Economic Development
“A powerful force for driving growth and creating opportunities
throughout the region.”

CHICAGO — Today, regional leaders announced the formation of the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership, a first-of-its-kind united effort including the City of Chicago, Cook County, and six counties across metropolitan Chicago to drive a regional economic strategy intended to deliver mutual benefits to the partners, and strengthen Chicagoland’s economic force in an increasingly fierce competitive global market.

“I’m pleased to announce the creation of a regional economic development partnership, recommended by our City’s COVID-19 recovery task force,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, who also serves as chair, board of directors at World Business Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune’s take on the latest regional cooperaton idea.

“The Chicagoland region is a driving force of business in the nation. From its central location to industry strengths, this region is positioned for significant growth and continued emerging business driven by tech and innovation. I am grateful to World Business Chicago, the ideal partner to coordinate the varying interests of regional partners and the private sector, who will drive regional economic development into the future.”

With financial commitment from each of the partners totaling $1 million for the first in a three-year pilot, World Business Chicago will manage the new Chicagoland Partnership and expand its services region-wide, complementing existing municipal and county programs.

“I have long championed an equitable, regional approach to economic development, and it has been a top priority at the County ever since I took office,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “I am proud to reach this historic milestone which helps advance our commitment to a more inclusive and equitable local economy.”

The Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership will focus on promoting the region’s many assets, including extensive freight infrastructure, diverse talent, strong exporting industries, and world-class institutions of innovation, research, and culture to develop a competitive global identity. Also, international engagement will be coordinated among the partners, and they will share and optimize resources like market research and asset mapping to achieve greater efficiency and scale.

“We know we will achieve better results working together. The ability to share information and pool our resources makes this partnership truly a win-win for DuPage, Cook, the collar counties and the City of Chicago,” said former DuPage County Chair Dan Cronin (2010-2022) who has long championed this effort.

“If we want to truly thrive, a strong regional economic development effort is essential. The Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership will provide a critical component, showcasing the Chicagoland area’s many advantages for businesses considering a new location in our region.”

“Today’s announcement of the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership will not only move the Chicagoland region forward but become its distinctive competitive advantage, helping existing firms expand in the region and attract new corporations. The region’s future is bright,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago, Chief Marketing Officer, City of Chicago.

Regional leaders gathered in September 2022 at Joliet Junior College to discuss the Brookings Institution’s recommended strategies and achieve consensus on the Partnership. Left to right: Dr. Clyne Namuo, President of Joliet Junior College; Jim McConoughey, President of the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation; Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago and Chief Marketing Officer for the City of Chicago (behind); Chair Scott Gryder, Kendall County Board; Greg Bedalov, President and CEO of Choose DuPage; President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board of Commissioners; Chair Corinne Pierog, Kane County Board; Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Will County Executive; Xochitl Flores, Bureau Chief of Economic Development for Cook County; Samir Mayekar, Deputy Mayor of Economic and Neighborhood Development for the City of Chicago; Erin Aleman, Executive Director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning; Chair Michael Buehler, McHenry County Board; Doug Pryor, President and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) set this work in motion two years ago, supported by a grant from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, at the request of the region’s county board chairs and the deputy mayor of Chicago. CMAP partnered with the Brookings Institution — a nonprofit public policy organization. The partners met over a series of convenings to develop the recommendations and achieve consensus on the Partnership’s principles and expectations. Those partners include:

• Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle
• DuPage County Board Chair Dan Cronin (Term ended in Dec. 2022)
• Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog
• Kendall County Board Chair Scott Gryder (Term ended in Dec. 2022)
• Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart
• McHenry County Board Chair Michael Buehler
• Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant
• Samir Mayekar, Deputy Mayor for Neighborhood and Economic Development, City of Chicago
• Cook County Bureau of Economic Development
• Choose DuPage
• Lake County Partners
• McHenry County Economic Development Corporation
• Will County Center for Economic Development
• World Business Chicago
• Private and civic sector partners

To learn more about this initiative, visit partnership.

= = = = =

Michael Buehler

Within the link just above is found this statement from Michael Buehler:

“McHenry County takes great pride in its world-class manufacturers and businesses, and the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership offers us a unique opportunity to further elevate their global profile by marketing them alongside the unique assets of our region.

“It has been a privilege to work alongside CMAP, the Brookings Institute, the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation, and, of course, my fellow county and municipal leaders to cement this partnership, and I look forward to the economic prosperity it will bring to our communities.”

= = = = =

A second regional linkage with counties to the West, anchored by Rockford was more recently announced:

Region 1 Planning Council Earns Federal [Three County] Economic Development District Designation

ROCKFORD, IL —Region 1 Planning Council (R1) has been designated an Economic Development District
covering Winnebago, Boone and McHenry Counties by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

R1 staff and board members have worked for 12 years to achieve this critical federal designation, which better positions the three-county region for federal funding to advance its economic development goals and priorities. The Economic Development District (EDD) designation creates more funding opportunities for economic development in the three-county region, expansion of R1’s programming to support local
government, and the potential for more areas of the region to secure EDA funding, said R1 Board Chairman and Loves Park Mayor Greg Jury.

“R1 has been a great partner to Loves Park as we grow industry and jobs in our community,” Jury said. “I have been proud to serve as R1’s Chairman, building and leading a regional table of elected leaders from both political parties. This federal designation as an Economic Development District would not have happened without our strong track record of regional collaboration.”

R1 is a special-purpose government agency that since 1964 has largely focused its efforts on transportation and infrastructure planning as a federal Metropolitan Planning Organization for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The EDD designation formalizes R1’s economic development role, allowing the agency to extend its planning expertise to regional economic development and investment activity in partnership with the EDA.  The R1 Board of Directors endorsed the agency’s application for Economic Development District designation, as did the County Boards of Winnebago, Boone and McHenry Counties and Gov. JB Pritzker.

As an EDD, R1 will focus its economic development efforts on infrastructure investment and job creation within the region’s three traditional industry clusters – aerospace, automotive production and food processing – while growing the emerging logistics and distribution industry cluster. EDD status will help the three-county region compete for private investment and jobs tied to these industries.

Over the last 12 years, R1 has engaged elected and appointed leaders in local government, education and
workforce and private industry to establish an economic development blueprint for the region called a
Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Economic development goals within the CEDS are established by elected leadership in partnership with the private sector, and then communicated directly to federal and state decision makers.  R1 works with federal and state leaders to prioritize public investment in regional road and utility infrastructure, which is necessary to attract private sector capital investment and job creation.

“We are very grateful for Senator Duckworth’s support for our region, and we are honored that she came in person to announce the federal designation she worked hard for Northern Illinois to secure,” said R1 Executive Director Michael Dunn Jr.

“Our region competes for economic development with all areas of North America,” Dunn said. “We are
competing for private industry against those regions that have had funding support for their infrastructure priorities because of their historical relationship with the EDA. We thank the EDA for its recognition of our track record of economic development planning and welcome a stronger partnership with the federal government to bring private investment and jobs to Winnebago, Boone and McHenry Counties.”

ABOUT R1: Region 1 Planning Council (R1) is a special-purpose, regional government agency. Regional councils are public organizations comprised of local elected officials that promote collaboration among local governments, working across the jurisdictional silos of states, counties, and municipalities. A regional council depends on intergovernmental collaboration to foster economic and community growth; through planning, research, federal funding, and data. For more information, visit


McHenry County Tail End of Two Regional Economic Development Agencies — 6 Comments

  1. LOL; Why is Buehler standing amongst those loser SWAMP creatures.

    VILE people destroying their community.

  2. Is it a better idea hook up with southeastern Wisconsin counties?

  3. Don’t sell out to the regional takeover.

    Isn’t CMAP kind of the same thing?

    Others dictate your water sources, transportation realm, road infrastructure under
    the guise of regional planning and best practices.

    Kick them out of your lives!

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