The Price of ‘Gamesmanship’

An article published by the Daily Herald Business Ledger recently looked into what could be threatening the progress of Western Access O’Hare (aka the Elgin-O’Hare extension), a project vital to suburban Chicago, and especially DuPage County. In the article, recent project setbacks were characterized as ‘gamesmanship’ on the part of Chicago, ultimately related to the budget stalemate and other State-level issues. As the driving force for economic development in DuPage County, Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance took a look at what the price of ‘gamesmanship’ will be for the region. O’Hare International Airport, the nation’s second busiest airport, links our region and the rest of the world. However, its existing infrastructure leads to heavy delay and congestion. Currently, O’Hare is accessed only from the east. The Western Access O’Hare project will give western access to the airport with an addition of a western roadway, allowing our region to meet future transportation demands. The enhanced infrastructure will bring with it a modern and diverse economic base that will transform the region. The area will become a prime location for businesses to locate and future developments looking to take advantage of transportation gateways to the rest of the world. In an increasingly global economy, convenient access to national and global markets will improve the competitiveness and productivity of local businesses while facilitating economic growth. The benefits from the Western Access O’Hare project are compelling because they would completely transform the economy of the region. According to the Elgin-O’Hare Western Bypass Advisory Council, the economic benefits of this project include:
  • Opportunity exists to create 65,000 jobs by 2040
  • Local tax revenues are expected to increase by $29 million annually (based on 2010 projection)
  • 13,450 jobs will be created annually in the region during construction
  • Travel delays will be reduced, saving $145 million annually by 2040
Since 2014, Choose DuPage has worked with the Illinois Tollway and regional public- and private-sector leaders to establish the Western Access O’Hare corridor as a premier global business location. In a market where industrial vacancy rates have been on an almost continuous 5-year decline, and new industrial inventory is sparse, we must remain competitive. The Western Access O’Hare project will provide enough land for businesses to build big – and spur growth in our robust economy. Today, the manufacturing, transportation and warehousing industry has a workforce of 75,000 in DuPage County, nearly 15% of our entire labor force. The Western Access O’Hare project is vital to the future of our region if we are to sustain this level of economic activity. Despite the uncertainty that both public- and private-sector organizations face in today’s environment, Choose DuPage will continue to work towards expanding the regional economy through actions that stimulate business investment in our region and generate desirable job opportunities for residents.