Charged with linking transportation and land use planning in a 7-county region of northeastern Illinois, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and its partners have a strong history of collaboration. Long-range planning efforts such as ON TO 2050, the region’s current comprehensive plan that identified economically disconnected and disinvested areas and traded clusters, found renewed importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Connecting residents in these areas—which were disproportionally impacted by the pandemic and associated upheaval—with employment opportunities became an essential part of the region’s recovery efforts.
The Inclusive Growth Analysis builds on guiding principles identified in ON TO 2050, but with a focus on the intersection of traded sectors and equitable growth. Led by TIP Strategies, the planning process included a review of existing conditions in the region (consisting of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties), outreach to selected stakeholders, and an extensive analysis of job quality and accessibility. Four traded clusters emerged as priorities: 1) transportation, distribution, and logistics; 2) electric vehicles and clean energy; 3) advanced manufacturing; and 4) agriculture, agriculture technology, and food processing. These clusters were selected due to their growth potential, applicability to the region and to individual counties, connection to quality jobs, and accessibility to economically disconnected populations. By concentrating on both economic competitiveness and economic mobility, the analysis also highlighted opportunities to coordinate regional economic development and COVID-19 recovery efforts in support of areas and populations most impacted by income loss, job changes, and business reductions and closings. Its flexible framework provides direction for CMAP and its partners while also being adaptable to the needs, challenges, and aspirations of individual counties and communities. As the Chicagoland region continues to move forward in the wake of the pandemic, recovery must reach people at all income levels and in all geographies to create more sustainable, equitable, long-term economic growth.