Chicago's 30 year plan looks at day-to-day life and regional prosperity

From CMAP's GO TO 2040 report
A page from the introduction to CMAP’s GO TO 2040 report. Left: “While overall quality of life is high, our region has grown in unsustainable ways that create congestion and make it hard for people to live near their jobs.” Right: “We need to invest in our existing communities while making wise development choices that make our communities great places to live.”

Chicago’s Metropolitan Agency for Planning announced today a visionary plan how the city and its surrounding counties should grow and develop over the next 30 years. The GO TO 2040 project is “a comprehensive regional plan seeks to maintain and strengthen our region’s position as one of the nation’s few global economic centers.” After three years of research, the Agency lays out four main themes in its comprehensive new report: livable communities (including housing, water, energy, parks and local food), human capital (including education and the workforce), efficient governance (including tax reforms) and regional mobility (including strategic investment in transportation).

Perhaps unique to this project is its emphasis on how city- and county-level development decisions can impact the day-to-day lives of individuals who live and work in metropolitan Chicago. Interspersed with the report’s policy recommendations is a series of portraits that highlight the plan’s themes:

At 14, Orlando Gomez faced a life-changing decision. Should he spend three hours commuting daily to a top rated magnet high school? Or avoid the arduous trip and attend his local school despite a hostile environment that had touched two older brothers who preceded him there?

“It was a no-brainer,” Orlando says. Compared to safety concerns at his brothers’ school, “it’s better to be on a train for three hours a day.”

CMAP’s report emphasizes that “the region can no longer afford not to plan effectively,” and explains that improving the daily lives of individuals – through better housing and transportation options, workforce development and changes to local policies – will bring sustainable prosperity to the entire region. GO TO 2040 does a great job showing how regional planning choices can impact individual decisions like where to go to school or what to do for a living, and this is why comprehensive development strategies like CMAP’s are so important. Learn more about the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s recommendations at the GO TO 2040 project.

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