officials touted Romeoville success stories, along with upcoming projects, at Thursday’s annual Economic Forecast Forum, held at the .
Speaker William Strauss, senior economist/economic adviser for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago also shared some nationwide trends that show glimmers of hope as the U.S. economic recovery continues.
Mayor John Noak talked about some of the planned transportation projects that could spur even more economic growth in the area, including:
- Will County’s $14 million plans to widen Weber Road from Renwick to just south of Airport Road (which could pave the way for construction to begin on a )
- Village improvements near Weber and Gaskin, which are also tied into plans for the future Meijer
- The phase I study on possible interchanges at I-55 and Airport Road and I-55 and 126th Street
- An Illinois Department of Transportation environmental assessment for potential improvements at I-55 and Weber Road
- Beautification along Route 53
- A new grant-funded traffic signal at Route 53 and
- Plans to construct a Romeoville by 2014
“This provides a great opportunity to expand development on our eastern boundaries,” Noak said of the Metra station, which is the anchor for the village’s newly adopted East Side Plan.
Over the last several years, Noak estimated 3,000 new jobs have come to Romeoville, a trend he expects to contine, with nearly one million square feet of industrial space set to begin construction this year.
Improvements are also slated to begin this year on improvements to the future downtown.
“We have positioned ourselves to become a community where businesses can locate and thrive,” Noak said.
The economy is growing — slowly
Strauss also said while there are encouraging signs of economic improvement, growth has been slow.
“The Great Recession” officially ended in June 2009, Strauss said, but the economy has grown by just 1.6 percent over the past year.
“This type of recovery is very different from anything we have seen in most of our lifetimes,” Strauss noted, saying the economy took a hit of 5 percent at the start of the recession in 2007.
Until the housing market rebounds, Strauss said, it’s unlikely growth will speed up.
“You will not get a full-blown type of recovery without housing playing a role,” he said. “It’s going to be a long slog.”
Unemployment numbers are hovering around 8 percent, Strauss said — “nothing to write home about” — but have decreased by 1.8 percent since the worst of the recession in October 2009.
“The economy is growing, but muddling along,” Strauss said.