Emanuel Unveils Economic Development Plan for Chicago - and Innovative Plan to Pay for It

A day after introducing an ambitious economic development plan for Chicago, mayor Rahm Emanuel wasted little time in unveiling a crucial element for implementing the plan - a public-private mechanism for funding infrastructure improvements.

The regional plan introduced on Wednesday, called "A Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs," "was developed by World Business Chicago, the city's non-profit economic development agency and is viewed as the first step in a continuing process to tune up the region's hefty but sluggish economic engine," reports Kathy Bergen.

The plan's 10 strategic goals, focused on encouraging greater collaboration to boost economic development, range from directives to diversify and grow the city's economic and jobs base, to ways to boost exports and develop next-generation infrastructure.

This last goal became the jumping-off point for a press conference held on Thursday, with former President Bill Clinton, to announce Emanuel's plan for a public-private mechanism called the Chicago Infrastructure Trust to fund investment in energy-efficiency improvements, transportation and other projects. The infrastructure bank, a common funding source utilized in Europe, Asia, and South America, would leverage upfront private investment to pay for public works projects that would provide a long-term revenue stream to re-pay investors and borrowers.

Emanuel has already indicated which project may be the first to utilize the new funding mechanism, report Kristen Mack and Jon Hilkevitch. "The first project on tap is roughly $200 million in energy efficiency repairs to city buildings and schools. Emanuel estimates the city can reduce its energy bill by more than $20 million a year. It would use that money to pay back the private loans, he said."

Full Story: Emanuel says private money could help pay for public works

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