March 11, 2010
By KIM SMITH firstname.lastname@example.org
JOLIET -- JADA members will stay on the job creating jobs for another 10 years -- and get more help doing so.
"We have been given an additional 10 years to accomplish our mission," said Rick Kwasneski, executive director of the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority.
The authority was created in 1995 to oversee the transformation of former Army-owned land into public and commercial uses to benefit Will County.
Part of JADA's extension deal included a 700-acre parcel slated to become an industrial park, once known as the Island City Industrial Park in Wilmington.
ProLogis originally had plans for all of it, but now only wants 200 acres, citing the faltered economy. This leaves more land prime for development, and for JADA, the challenge of bringing together the right deal.
"We simply are not done yet and need more time," Kwasneski said.
State Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, passed legislation supporting the extension during a senate committee.
"With the help of JADA, Will County has become an inland port and transportation hub in Illinois and the Midwest," Wilhelmi said. "In the past 15 years, JADA has proven very successful in economic development and job creation in the region."
Also included in the bill is a new position on the nine-member JADA board. A 10th person will be added to the board that now includes Walter Strawn, Wayne McMillan, Mattie Becker, Alan Darr, Warren Davis, William Koehler, Jay Plese, Art Schultz and Roy Strong. The new member will be appointed by Will County Executive Larry Walsh.
Members must be residents of Joliet, Wilmington, Elwood, Manhattan or Symerton.
"By expanding the JADA board, we will have the opportunity to bring more voices into the economic development conversation," Wilhelmi said. "There are still many acres of land available and we need to continue innovative approaches to develop the land and create jobs."
Land with a history
Today, the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, the Prairie Landfill, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 Apprentice Training Center, CenterPoint, ProLogis and the BNSF Railway are located on the land, also known as the Joliet Arsenal. It is a 26,500-acre tract south of Joliet on the east and west sides of Route 53 extending from Elwood to Wilmington.
In the 1940s, the site was a bomb-making factory built by the U.S. Army and was one of the area's largest employers during World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. The land was decommissioned in 1976 and declared excess in 1993.
JADA was named the 2009 National award recipient of the Base Redevelopment Community of the Year from the Association of Defense Communities.