The Will County Center for Economic Development shared a lot of good economic news Friday at its annual report to investors.
John Greuling, the CED’s president and CEO, gave the presentation in Joliet in front of investors and stakeholders from throughout Will County.
The report to investors highlighted a number of areas of economic strength, including the county’s role as a global transportation and logistics leader, and growth in myriad industries, from manufacturing to health care.
“The role that Will County plays as an essential nexus for commerce throughout the Midwest and the nation has been acknowledged and appreciated by leaders in Springfield and in Washington, D.C.,” David Livingston, the president of Lewis University in Romeoville and chairman of the CED board of directors, said in the report.
In 2019, Will County saw continued success in terms of economic development and growth with about 5,800 new jobs, $2 billion in new investment and a historically low unemployment rate of 3.2%, according to the CED report.
Over the past decade, Will County has also seen annual increases in wages and overall jobs.
In 2009, Will County wages totaled $7.6 billion. In 2018, they totaled $11.7 billion. The number of jobs in Will County in 2009 was about 192,000, while in 2019 there were more than 251,000.
The CED report also described 2019 as a banner year for investment in infrastructure in Will County with the passage of the state’s capital program.
Local and state officials pushed for the reconstruction of a significant part of Interstate 80 from Minooka to New Lenox, for which the program set aside $1.2 billion. Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation proclaimed the I-80 reconstruction as the signature project of the state capital program.
The CED created the I-80 Coalition in May 2018 with the primary purpose of accelerating the completion of the highway’s reconstruction by 2023.
Several millions of dollars were also allocated to multiple road projects in Will County along Interstate 55 and Route 53, among others.
The CED also awarded its 2019 Frank Turk Business and Community Achievement award to Will County Executive Larry Walsh for his service “in making Will County a better place for both businesses and residents to thrive,” according to a news release.
The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the quality of life for Will County residents.