CED: Peotone airport to pick up speed
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org January 12, 2012 7:53PM
Updated: February 14, 2012 10:18AM
JOLIET — After decades of debate and years of political squabbling, 2012 could be the year the south suburban airport near Peotone finally takes off, the county’s top economic development official said on Thursday.
The prediction was No. 1 on a top 10 list revealed by John Greuling, CEO and president of the Will County Center for Economic Development, at the group’s 2012 Economic Forecast luncheon.
Will County Executive Larry Walsh, who attended the event at the Holiday Inn, agreed with Greuling’s forecast.
“I think 2012 is going to bring us some closure in regards to the issue of (airport) governance — absolutely,” he said.
Walsh said the FAA won’t give a record of decision on the proposed airport until the governance plan is in place.
Will County officials have wrangled with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Chicago, for the past several years over how the airport should be governed.
Walsh said it appears there may be some compromise in the works, but he wouldn’t elaborate.
“I think there has been a commitment that has come forth of support, collaboration and compromise,” Walsh said.
Walsh said he is hopeful governance legislation that gives Will County and its communities majority representation will come out of the spring legislative session.
Without some agreement in place, Greuling said he fears the Illinois Department of Transportation and the FAA will drop the project.
Meanwhile, the state has been buying land and submitting plans to the FAA for the airport.
“I think the FAA many times has come very close to just saying, ‘If you can’t resolve this governance issue why should we spend all of this time and money on this,’” Greuling said.
Other 2012 predictions on Greuling’s top 10 list were:
Housing will see no meaningful recovery.
Overbuilt retail developments will continue to suffer along with housing.
The state’s economic conditions will continue to slide “without leadership with guts.”
The fiscal condition of local governments will continue to improve.
The Interstate 355 corridor will see the announcement of a major commercial development.
More than 30 new companies will locate in Will County.
More than 4,000 new jobs will be created in Will County.
A developer will break ground on a 1 million-square-foot spec industrial building.
The unemployment rate in Will County will drop to 8 percent.
Also at the luncheon, Karen Case, president of commercial real estate from The PrivateBank in Chicago, gave a broader forecast for the economy in 2012. She said the foundation is in place for a recovery, but economic forecasters are only cautiously optimistic because of the economic troubles in Europe.
Consumers have pent up demand for products, however, she added, so that should help spur sales.
“After all, you can’t drive the same car forever,” she said.
And interest rates are likely to remain low until 2014, she added.
As for real estate, Case sees a great year ahead for multifamily housing.