Gov. Pat Quinn made a trip to the Southland on Monday to boost local redevelopment efforts, signing two bills in Tinley Park proponents say will make it easier for south suburban towns to fund their economic plans.
The first of the two bills Quinn signed at the Southland Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting at the Tinley Park Convention Center will make it easier for municipalities across the state to appropriate funds for economic development.
Quinn signed the bills after a 30-minute talk to a packed house at the monthly meeting of the Southland Chamber, a group that promotes the south suburbs' economic interests.
Quinn Talks Roads, Jobs and China
During his remarks, Quinn touched on projects near and dear to south suburban officials and business owners, including the coming Interstate 57 and Interstate 294 interchange, the proposed Illiana Expressway that would connect Interstate 65 in Indiana with I-57 in Illinois, the recently approved Southeast Metra Line connecting downtown Chicago with Balmoral Park in Crete, the proposed third airport in Peotone and growing intermodal facilities in Joliet and new ones coming to Crete.
Quinn also said a video-poker funded, $31 billion public works law that was approved by the Illinois Supreme Court on Monday will bring millions of redevelopment dollars to community colleges including Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Moraine Valley in Palos Hills and Prairie State College in Chicago Heights and Governors State University in University Park.
The governor also touted a high speed rail line from Chicago to St. Louis, and said a super high speed rail line would connect O’Hare Airport with downtown Chicago and eventually extend all the way south to Peotone for the South Suburban Airport.
Besides those projects, Quinn said the No. 1 challenge facing Illinois today is stubborn unemployment.
“The very best way to make things better for everyone is a J-O-B,” he said.
To that end, Quinn said he is trying to promote Illinois exports to China.
“We export one in four soybeans grown in Illinois to China,” Quinn said. “And we are now exporting Asian carp to China, where it is considered a delicacy.”
While calling for more honesty in government, Quinn touched on the recent guilty verdicts in the corruption case against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Quinn, formerly lieutenant governor under Blagojevich, became governor after Blagojevich's 2009 impeachment.
“My predecessor is going to jail and his predecessor already is in jail,” Quinn said, alluding to former Gov. George Ryan, who was convicted on racketeering and fraud charges in 2006.
“You can’t have a recovery without honesty in government,” Quinn said.
Local Reaction Favorable
Local business owners and officials who were among the 450 in attendance were generally pleased with Quinn’s remarks.
“I think he was right on,” said Sid Barsuk, of Homewood. “I think (Quinn) is a better governor that people thought he would be. And he strikes me as a servant of the state.”
Tom Hall, senior vice president of American Chartered Bank in Tinley Park, said, “His heart is in the right place. He wants to help business and the electorate.”
“I like his perspective on the Southland,” Hall said. “His key points like the airport, I-57 interchange and intermodal centers are all positives for the Southland.”
“But the state is in a big hole and getting out is going to take sacrifice to make a difference. That is going to be hard to do,” said Hall.
Bill Blume, of Midwest Promotions Group in Summit, said Quinn’s remarks were uplifting and informative.
“It’s nice to have a governor who knows where the Southland is,” Blume said.
Midwest Promotions’ John Duzansky, a graduate of Fenwick Academy like Quinn, said he liked what he heard.
“The governor is very positive,” he said. “It’s nice to hear from a governor who taught at Prairie State and knows where the south suburbs are.”
$6.6 Million to Revitalize Southland
Quinn announced at the meeting Monday that $6.6 million in federal funds for affordable housing and infrastructure improvements had been awarded to six south suburbs through the Hurricane Ike Disaster Recovery Program, including $502,250 to repair and resurface roadways and curbs at a senior community in Olympia Fields.
The other Southland towns getting these federal funds are Hazel Crest, Lansing, Park Forest, Phoenix and South Holland.