The economy of the Chicago metropolitan region has reached a critical juncture. On the one hand, Chicagoland is currently a highly successful global region with extraordinary assets and outputs. The region successfully made the transition in the 1980s and 1990s from a primarily industrial to a knowledge and service-based economy. It has high levels of human capital, with strong concentrations in information-sector industries and knowledge-based functional clusters -- a headquarters region with thriving finance, business services, law, IT and emerging bioscience, advanced manufacturing and similar high-growth sectors. It combines multiple deep areas of specialization, providing the resilience that comes from economic diversity. It is home to the abundant quality-of-life amenities that flow from business and household prosperity.
On the other hand, beneath this static portrait of our strengths lie disturbing signs of a potential loss of momentum. Trends in the last decade reveal slowing rates, compared to other regions, of growth in productivity and gross metropolitan product. Trends in innovation, new firm creation and employment are comparably lagging. The region also faces emerging challenges with respect to both spatial efficiency and governance.
In this context, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has just released GO TO 2040, its comprehensive, long-term plan for the Chicago metropolitan area. The plan contains recommendations aimed at shaping a wide range of regional characteristics over the next 30 years, during which time more than 2 million new residents are anticipated. Among the chief goals of GO TO 2040 are increasing the region's long-term economic prosperity, sustaining a high quality of life for the region's current and future residents and making the most effective use of public investments. To this end, the plan addresses a broad scope of interrelated issues which, in aggregate, will shape the long-term physical, economic, institutional and social character of the region.
This report by RW Ventures, LLC is an independent assessment of the plan from a purely economic perspective, addressing the impacts that GO TO 2040's recommendations can be expected to have on the future of the regional economy. The assessment begins by describing how implementation of GO TO 2040's recommendations would affect the economic landscape of the region; reviews economic research and practice about the factors that influence regional economic growth; and, given both of these, articulates and illustrates the likely economic impacts that will flow from implementation of the plan. In the course of reviewing the economic implications of the plan, the assessment also provides recommendations of further steps, as the plan is implemented, for increasing its positive impact on economic growth.