Jack Lavin, President & CEO, Chicagoland Chamber: Good morning, my name is Jack Lavin, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for being here today. First, I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to Senate President Don Harmon, Speaker Welch, and Cook County Board President Preckwinkle for their leadership and support on such an important and timely issue.

We are at an economic crossroads. We have record job openings, and encouraging jobs numbers, but the pandemic, the supply chain and worker shortages, among other factors are hamstringing our businesses, both big and small. We need immediate solutions to kickstart our economic recovery and the I-290 and Forest Park Blue Line reconstruction project does just that. And now with the federal infrastructure bill passing Congress this weekend, of which Illinois is estimated to receive over $17 billion, we have a real opportunity to build upon Illinois’ already nationally-leading transit hub status.

I-290 and the Forest Park Blue Line are key regional economic arteries connecting the West suburbs and West side of the city with the economic engine that is downtown to allow the movement of our workers, our residents, and businesses product. But, as the study demonstrates, this key highway and Forest Park Blue Line needs serious modernization. In 2020, I-290 was ranked the most congested highway in the US limiting our mobility as a region and the Forest Park Blue Line has routinely been cited as infrastructure in need of serious repair.

This project will not only help us compete in the global economy long term but will create nearly 22,000 jobs and generate $70 million in both local and state tax revenues, as well as $2.6 billion in gross domestic product to help kickstart our economic growth and recovery.  

There is also no greater asset to our region’s businesses, members of the Chamber, than their workers and our talent. This project will make driving on I-290 safer and provide our workers, residents, and tourists greater mobility to explore and take advantage of all that our great region has to offer. Critically, the investments in the public transit would improve job accessibility for residents of historically disconnected areas. These are all key considerations companies make annually when deciding where to make long-term investment and hiring decisions. For all these reasons, I am delighted to stand here today with lawmakers and our partners in the Labor community and call on our federal and state partners to prioritize the reconstruction of I-290 and the Forest Park Blue Line. With that, I am honored to hand this over to Bob Reiter with the Chicago Federation of Labor. Thank you again to Senate President Harmon, Speaker Welch, President Preckwinkle and all our other partners for being here today.

Jack Lavin, President & CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce