Can Chicago Ride Its Rails to Economic Growth?

Chicago's position as a central hub for manufacturing and shipping helped establish the city as the economic powerhouse of the Midwest. A new report recommends the city update that infrastructure to grow the region's economy.

September 25, 2013, 9:00 AM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


"Could the industries that built Chicago help rescue it from the Great Recession?" asks Chris Bentley. "A manufacturing report recently released by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) makes that case. The city’s unique position as a national hub is its great 'built-in advantage,' the CMAP report stated, and its best shot at regional economic growth is investing in freight transportation and manufacturing."

Rather than an historic relic, the city's "[m]anufacturing, freight, and logistics industries were responsible for more than 20 percent of all the jobs created here from 2010 to 2012," notes Bentley. "To encourage that growth, CMAP asserted that Chicagoland needs to beef up its aging intermodal infrastructure—those points where cargo moves from one form of transportation to another; Great Lakes barges to Union Pacific railcars, or from Long Haul Trucks to airplane holds."

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