Executive Summary


When people talk about the Calumet region, they are usually not speaking about the exact same towns and neighborhoods, but they generally are talking about some part of the old industrial region that borders the southern edge of Lake Michigan. Many definitions and mental models of stakeholders don't cross the Illinois-Indiana state line. However, most organizations and people whose definitions don't cross state lines agree it is arbitrary to stop at the state line.

For the purposes of this paper, the Calumet region includes both Southeast Chicago in Illinois and the northeastern part of Lake County, Indiana with borders that change depending upon the purpose or initiative. The Calumet region includes at least the City of Chicago neighborhoods of East Side, South Deering, Hegewisch, South Chicago, Calumet Heights, Burnside, and Pullman; the Illinois suburban jurisdictions of Riverdale, Dolton, Calumet City, Burnham, and South Holland; and the Indiana jurisdictions of Hammond, Whiting, East Chicago, and, perhaps, Gary.

This is not to say it is easy to research, let alone unite, a bi-state Calumet region, but it seems the only reasonable way to go, given the linkages described throughout this paper. Still, because of Governors State University's interests, much more information was collected on Illinois for this report than on Northwest Indiana.



On both sides of the State line, the Calumet region has paid a heavy price for its historical dependence on heavy manufacturing. A legacy of the plant shutdowns of the past two decades, there is today a large amount of industrial land in the region which is not in productive use. There is the inaccurate perception that all property in the region is contaminated. Still, there are a number of brownfield sites where the higher costs of site development give an advantage to greenfield locations. Some of the large sites which are being developed are moving relatively slowly. For example, it may take more resources to redevelop the industrial park at the LTV site than expected or now in hand. Some of the sites continue to have key deficiencies. For example, while USX's South Chicago site is a prime site, there is no nearby expressway. Leases limited to 20 years limit the chances of new investment for its highest value purpose on Illinois International Port property.

There is no longer as much economic synergy to locating near the steel mills which continue to dominate economic activity in the region. Nearby labor supply is not so important to firms, and is not a selling point for new plants. Firms believe even their current workforce needs instruction in basic math, reading, work ethic, communications, and computers. Companies are wary of the strength of labor unions in the region. In a number of locations, the interior of the Calumet region is not easily and safely accessible to trucks moving goods by road. The bridges on the Calumet River which are needed to move goods to barge or ship have deteriorated. Flooding has been exacerbated by drainage of this area.

The vast majority of employers and their workers feel safe within the confines of their places of work, but the image of the area beyond the confines of the plants is that crime is high. This is a major obstacle in recruiting employees and marketing sites. Finally, some firms feel that stimulating job development through tax rates, city services or cutting bureaucracy is not a strong focus to some firms in the region.

Companies which generally are not headquartered in the region and whose managers and workers don't live in the region don't have a big stake in developing the region. At the same time, there are a few very large property owners which, because of their size, have a big say in the region's economic future.

Economic development typically occurs on an ad hoc, uncoordinated or parcel-by-parcel basis. Ecological concerns are rarely factored into economic development decisions, even though natural assets on the scale of those in the Calumet region have played a major role in development in other places.


Important transportation decisions which affect the region are not receiving adequate attention. Major highway decisions are made independently by the two state departments of transportation in the region. While CATS has an intermodal committee, many residents in the Calumet region are unaware of it. CATS and NRPC were both criticized in 1996 in the federal certification review for lack of coordination and for inadequate public involvement in their planning processes.

While rail is the most important infrastructure to local firms which have been surveyed on the subject, truck traffic has received vastly more infrastructure support than rail in recent years. Many rail rights of way are being absorbed into developments and lost. Railroads in the region generally don't work together. Many of their facilities have been allowed to run down. There is serious congestion in the region.

Road traffic by truck is accounting for a growing share of the shipment of goods, particularly manufactured goods. This underutilizes a regional resource, while it also harms the region's air quality and wastes energy. CATS and NRPC are paying more, but still not enough, attention to intermodal opportunities in the Calumet region.

Urban sprawl reduces the chances for redevelopment of brownfields in the Calumet region, but another barrier to reusing land in the Calumet region is environmental contamination. Uncertainty about government rules and processes discourage private capital from coming into the region for remediation. Lenders and investors who lack expertise in evaluating brownfield risks avoid them altogether. There is not enough public money for clean up. No site in southeast Chicago has qualified for federal funds earmarked to clean up the nation's dangerous contaminated sites because local drinking water comes from Lake Michigan rather than groundwater. The federal ranking system for contaminated sites is not suited to grouping sites to assess cumulative risk, as needs to happen in the Calumet region. There are still legal obstacles to the City of Chicago's efforts to gain control of abandoned sites. It has been is difficult to identify ownership of some land (no one wants to admit ownership because of potential liability).

Brownfield redevelopment efforts are progressing both in Southeast Chicago and Northwest Indiana. However, two concerns are that these efforts need to focus on more than value added real estate development ,e.g. clean up, environmental justice, and restoration. And they need to focus on multiple sites, no longer ignoring transport and the need for a comprehensive approach in the Calumet region. A comprehensive remediation plan is needed for the area, but will not occur without a plan for reuse of the land.


All of the shoreline miles in the Calumet region are unsafe for aquatic life. Nearly all of the shoreline miles fail to meet the criteria for fish consumption. Because groundwater in a shallow aquifer beneath the surface of Southeast flows through waste material, it is contaminated. People living in Southeast Chicago are exposed to contaminants which originate in the shallow aquifer when it accumulates in basements and low-lying areas or when they grow food or eat fish caught in local waterways. While public involvement in clean up efforts has greatly increased, residents feel government agencies still need to go beyond community meetings and hearings. Pollution prevention has not taken serious hold among many firms in the region, in spite of the high cost of clean up and pollution control.

Sprawling land use patterns in the Chicago metropolitan area and Northwest Indiana are a sign that traffic, fossil fuel use, and pollution will continue to grow. Already, the entire Southern Lake Michigan metropolitan region is designated a severe ozone nonattainment area.

Landfills, hazardous waste sites and pollution are a continuing threat to the remaining wetlands and other natural areas. Many natural areas are not actively managed as ecological sites because they are privately owned, abandoned or owned by government lacking an open space mission. Many businesses don't see how they will benefit from restoration. It is hard to interest landowners in landscape improvement even when there is likely to be a big payoff in land values. Railroads are interested in developing their property, not preserving open space. On the Illinois side, the Sanitary District is conservative in its support of open land because it may need its land in the future for sludge disposal.

Many natural areas of great ecological value could be acquired, but no one is pursuing them yet and there is not enough money for acquisition, especially when there are hazardous waste problems. The political climate at the federal level is not good for adding land to the public domain. There has not been much local government support for setting aside open space (but this could change if someone helps bring local governments together to attract funding, portion out responsibility, piece together parcels, and integrate trails and corridors with economic development. Even though his agency staff-members are supportive, Mayor Daley himself has not focused on the region or open space preservation in it.

There is no unified preservation and restoration strategy for the significant natural areas of the Lake Calumet region in the context of industrial redevelopment. There are fragmented approaches to economic and environmental improvement. The diverse ownership patterns -- a mix of industrial, state and local public lands -- currently stands in the way of an integrated management strategy for the natural areas in the region. Finally, many people are hurting for jobs too much to think about other needs or new paths to attracting economic development.


About 25% of the Latino population, 20% of African-Americans, and 10% of Whites who live in the Calumet region have incomes below the poverty level. About 20 percent of Latinos in the area report limited English language proficiency, and, with more children and lower incomes, more Latino families are living in poverty. There is a continuing slow decline in White population in the Southeast Chicago area.

The Calumet region has had a declining share of the total jobs in the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Jobs in the Chicago metropolitan area have shifted away from the Calumet region, both northwest and southeast. The Calumet area has housing costs which moderate income families can afford, but the areas of high job growth are not nearby. As a result, mean travel times to work in parts of the Calumet region -- South Deering, Calumet Heights, South Chicago, and Riverdale -- are among the highest in Chicago at between 33 to 48 minutes. Due to the steel-plant closings and other job losses in this region, many African-American males have assumed less-skilled and lower paying jobs. Jobs have also shifted away northern Lake County, as has population.

Adult residents of the Calumet region generally have a lower level of education attainment that the overall population of the City of Chicago. Latinos in the area have the lowest rate of educational attainment for adults over 25 years of age. Only 37% have completed elementary school education. Residents of Southeast Chicago employed in 1990 were preponderantly found in lesser-skilled occupational categories, with about 42% in clerical and service occupations. The inner ring of cities in Northwest Indiana also have many residents who suffer from high unemployment, low paying jobs, and low rates of educational attainment.

It has been difficult to increase local hiring because word of mouth is the main recruitment tool firms use, and local residents aren't in the networks of workers from other communities. It has also been hard to increase local hiring because there are few corporate champions pushing it. Many local workers are not well-trained. Firms have major problems finding workers with the basic education required to work effectively. Many local job applicants can't meet the standards of local employers. There are insufficient training opportunities. Young people are not adequately prepared to get high skill jobs.

Loss of jobs and population and growing distances to jobs have had an affect on the hopefulness of residents of the Calumet region. People see life in the region as not good enough. Satisfaction with neighborhoods in Southeast Chicago is much lower than for the City of Chicago, the 6-county area, or the suburbs. More people in Southeast Chicago believe their neighborhood will deteriorate in the next 5 years than the City at large or the 6-county region.

Crime is higher than it should be, even if perceptions are worse than the facts. Satisfaction in the Chicago part of the Calumet region is probably lower than for the rest of the city or suburbs because of residents' higher concerns about crime, drugs, and gang activity. Many residents continue to be exposed to extreme environmental hazards.


There are few corporate headquarters in Northwest Indiana or Southeast Chicago. Plant managers have little time for matters beyond their plant walls, and there is high turnover among plant managers. Companies whose managers and workers don't live in the region don't have a stake in improving the region's image. Many local employers have chosen not to become involved much in community issues. There are a number of large quasi-public land owners which don't have revitalization as part of their mission.

Big differences in histories, racial composition, and poverty make it hard for communities within the region to collaborate to solve common problems. Many community groups which have been very effective at the neighborhood level, have had little interest in working across communities. Much organizing has been very local and there has been resistance to broader coalitions.

There is a long history of distrust among organizations. Turf issues are common. Even government agencies at different levels have found it hard to work together. Within the City of Chicago, initiatives at the Department of Environment and Department of Planning and Development which affect the Calumet region are not always well-coordinated. Environmentalists and development proponents are often at odds. There is a perception that environmental organizations beat on industry, and visa versa.

The situation has been quite similar in Northwest Indiana. East Chicago, Whiting, Hammond, and Gary don't have much of a history for collaboration. However, as mentioned below, the situation appears to be changing in Northwest Indiana.


The one attempt to establish an ongoing bi-state planning agency was abandoned after only a few years. The only formal bi-state agency now is the Chicago-Gary Regional Airport Authority created in 1995. To date, no specific projects have been developed under the compact. The only truly bi-state initiative is the Sea Grant program out of Purdue. The bi-state Calumet region lacks a regional identity. For example, even though the Calumet Ecological Park Proposal extends into Northwest Indiana, public and nonprofit interests in Northwest Indiana were not asked to participate in the proposal to examine the feasibility of creating the Park. The $100 million flood control and recreation project on the Little Calumet River extending from Gary west stops at the Indiana state line.


Companies don't believe that high schools and colleges in the area are an asset. Most area colleges are not providing workers who meet the standards of local employers. Companies feel that there aren't enough job training facilities that meet their needs. Few current employees live in the region, so there is no network in place for placing local people. Most companies are not working closely with universities and technical schools to steer people into scientific and high-tech fields. Also, some businesses do not try to hire from the local community or want to work with the community.

Meanwhile, many local organizations, including educational institutions, are struggling with declining budgets and rising costs.

Health and human services systems I found out very little about, or about other systems to support human development. There was no time for deeper exploration in this area, but there are clearly many problems and a great deal happening in the areas of housing, health, and social services.



The economy has evened out. It is no longer getting worse. The region emphasizes those industrial sectors -- metals, chemicals, food, and printing and publishing-- which are expected to account for much of the projected future growth in manufacturing jobs in the Chicago region. Almost 25% of the steel produced in the United States is still produced in mills in Northwest Indiana. And the casinos are bringing new money for economic development into Northwest Indiana. Many of the industries in the Calumet region -- transportation equipment, chemical products, and industrial machinery among them -- are participating in an export boom.

The agglomeration of firms in the Calumet region is an asset. Much of the manufacturing base has modernized and is more competitive. There have been a number of recent expansion and modernization projects. Over $1 billion in new capital investment has been spent in Southeast Chicago. The Illinois Port Authority has built the Harborside Golf Course. The banking sector's interest in the region is growing. More developers are coming in to take a look.

A healthy share of surveyed firms in the region project that their business activity will be above average in the next few years and plan capital improvements. Only a small portion expect it to be below average. Most firms surveyed said they planned to remain in their present location in the next 5 years.

More people understand that not everything in the region is contaminated. Key brownfield sites are moving toward productive reuse. The former Burnside Steel Foundry at 1300 East 92nd Place soon will be ready for redevelopment. Much could still be done to build on the asset which is the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Southeast Chicago Development Commission is developing area-wide business plans for the Calumet Industrial Corridor and the other two industrial corridors in Southeast Chicago. Its efforts are praised, not just in the economic development community, but also by environmental groups trying to preserve natural assets. And there are efforts underway to address the perception of high crime among potential developers and employees from outside of the corridor. In Northwest Indiana, the Northwest Indiana Development Forum is making progress in attracting new business to the region and addressing concerns about the region's quality of life.


Connections to this region -- by boat, rail, and highway -- are still excellent. The highways of the Calumet region connect virtually all of the automobile and transportation equipment assembly plants in the U.S. Hundreds of trains going to and from Chicago still move through the area on the most heavily used rail corridor in the country. Intermodal trips -- rail hauling of truck trailers --are up. The efforts of the Calumet Area Industrial Commission, Southeast Chicago Development Commission, and City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development to repair and improve infrastructure are making progress.

Both industrial and residential property is relatively well-priced. Many brownfield sites only require modest expenditures for clean up. The Brownfields Pilot Program has helped show that the fear of environmental costs and liabilities is sometimes out of proportion with the reality. Residents and organizations committed to reclaiming former industrial and waste disposal sites in Southeast Chicago, such as People for Community Recovery, have gotten the attention of federal, state and local officials. Research is going on which will help with the development of clean up strategies. Specific clean ups, such as the Navistar and Dutchboy facilities in West Pullman, are proceeding with all of the parties at the table. The worst sites with open drums have been cleaned up.

The Department of Environment, Planning and Development, Law, Buildings, and the Mayor's Office formed an interdepartmental workgroup on brownfields which today has $50 million for brownfields clean ups. The Brownfields Pilot Program is cleaning up demonstration sites in the region, including the former Burnside foundry at 92nd and Kimbark and the former Dutch Boy site in West Pullman.

The Northwest Indiana Brownfield Redevelopment Project, Inc, has $400,000 for an open redevelopment process including citizen workgroups for pilot site in Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago. The $400,000 will be used for site evaluation, public outreach, and administrative costs. The hoped-for outcome will include a model process to transform the remaining 300 brownfield sites across the Indiana-side of the Calumet Region.


EPA and the states have undertaken major enforcement actions against industrial dischargers which have resulted in clean ups and pollution prevention programs. Industry-specific initiatives are addressing the vast majority of the volume of wastes discharged, i.e., from the iron and steel industries, chemical manufacturing industry, and the petroleum refining industry. Clean Sites has already brought together oil companies to voluntarily improve environmental management. It is now beginning an initiative to hold a basin-wide dialog on pollution prevention in primary metals industries. Citizens for a Better Environment (CBE) has an engineer on staff who can observe plant operations and make recommendations for pollution prevention.

Landfill expansion has been stopped for now. Air quality has improved. Water quality is better and waterways are cleaner. Environmental fines which can be used for community projects have created opportunities to protect natural areas. The nature of groundwater contamination in Southeast Chicago makes finding solutions difficult. However, there are some possibilities being explored, including bioremediation and piping oxygen-rich water from a local aeration plant to 250 acres of wetlands.

EPA has agreed to perform a multimedia analysis of all mobile, point and area sources in Cook County, IL and Lake County, Indiana, with the goal of creating the first replicable model to define cumulative risk in a complex urban setting. It will develop pollution prevention strategies targeted at the sectors because of cumulative risk, establish a community-regulator dialog to determine how to incorporate cumulative risk into permitting and other decisions, and design and implement remedial activities and conduct community education/outreach to address the findings.

The Grand Calumet River is much improved, and thousands more regional residents are aware of the river's problems and are committed to clean up and restoration. Clean up projects are before the public that could have major portions of the Grand Calumet River dredged of contaminated sediments by the year 2000. The Grand Calumet Corridor Planning/River Visioning Initiative is building momentum for river improvements. Lakeside planning by NOAA (coastal zone management planning) is moving along. The Remedia l Action Plan (RAP) project is helping to clarify what needs to be done to improve the ecosystem. RAP Stage 3 Implementation for Indiana Harbor Area of Concern is proceeding. Because of the U.S. EPA's Geographical Enforcement Initiative, businesses in Northwest Indiana are incorporating environmental management in ways they did not before. IDEM Northwest Indiana's regional office is stronger than in the past and Northwest Indiana is a priority.

The Calumet region still has some of the most valuable natural areas in Illinois and Indiana. There is huge and significant biodiversity in the Calumet region and a great variety of endangered and threatened species of plants and animals. The complex of wetlands, prairie/savanna sites, and woodlands in the Lake Calumet area may be the most important bird stopover point in the Chicago metro area. Most Chicago-area environmental organizations have developed an interest in the region because of its immense natural assets. There is an opportunity in the Calumet region for learning how to co-exist with other species because of the natural remnants which exist along side of densely populated and industrial areas.

As a result of 1000s of field trips, many more residents of the metropolitan area know where the Calumet region is and know that there are valuable resources there. Most high value areas are well documented. The City Space Plan, a project of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, says that Calumet Lake wetlands are important to preserve and this might help lead to a special district to protect them. The Cook County Forest Preserve says Lake Calumet is an opportunity area. The Chicago Park District also says it is an important area. When Southeast Chicago Development Commission asked 39 firms if additional resources for cooperative maintenance of open spaces in the Calumet Industrial Corridor would benefit the Corridor, 50% strongly agreed and 25% agreed. Some natural areas have been declared hands off.

Calumet Ecological Park Association (CEPA) and the Lake Calumet Study Committee have been successful in urging exploration of the creation of a Calumet Ecological National Park with links by rivershed and lake corridors to the Indiana National Lakeshore and the Cal-Sag Channel to the Illinois and Michigan Canal. At the behest of Congressman Jerry Weller, Congress has approved legislation for the Secretary of Interior to do a feasibility study. The Openlands Project, along with other organizations, is creating a Preliminary Land Use and Biodiversity Linkage Opportunity Map of the Lake Calumet area, including a base map of natural area remnants and open space parcels throughout the Lake Calumet area and interspersed properties which might be candidates for acquisition and management.

The Burnham Greenway represents the first time in many years that a large greenway (all the way from the Skyway down to the Calumet River) has moved forward. The Illinois State Water Survey is trying to identify ways to improve the capacity of Calumet area wetlands. The Chicago Department of Transportation is pursuing trail extensions. The $100 million Little Calumet River Flood Control and Recreation Project under construction in Indiana between the state line and Gary will prevent flooding and restore wetlands (set-back levees will restore 788 acres of wetlands and protect other lands for recreation use).

Until twenty years ago, natural areas in Northwest Indiana were written off. Now there are five nature preserves, and environmental agencies and some companies see the need to move beyond saving specific sites to dealing with the ecological health of the region. Residents now recognize the biodiversity in the region more. Habitat protection and restoration efforts include Clark and Pine, Ivanhoe Cluster, Gibson Woods, and the Hoosier Prairie. Planning has progressed to restore wetlands along the Little Calumet River using federal money for flood control through the Conservation Service. There have also been fisheries enhancement efforts, particularly the small mouth bass in harbors, and efforts to stem the reduction in yellow perch.


People who live in Southeast Chicago like many things about their neighborhoods, including that housing is suitable and of good quality, there are friends and family nearby, and public transportation is good. If job opportunities and the image of the region can be improved, it should be possible to improve hope for the future. There are many specific projects going on in the Calumet region to improve opportunity for residents, but researching them was outside the scope of this effort.


There is now a great deal of interest in regional revitalization and more energy and resources to turn things around. While some people see environmental, economic, and community goals in conflict, most see the line between these actions as much more fuzzy. A few see strong connections and mutual dependence. Among people who care about the region, there is a broad range of skills and assets. Residents of the Calumet region already are more community-involved than is the average for the region, at least based upon the indicators of voting and membership in block clubs.

Many community projects are helping to expand community vision. Claretian Association is helping to build a sense of regional community. East Side Pride has become a vehicle for people in East Side to get together. The Metropolitan Alliance of Congregations is successfully organizing churches throughout the region. City Innovation is convening local researchers, community organizations, and others in quarterly planning groups on job growth, environmental improvement, and site selection and development. Southeast Chicago Development Commission is convening many different stakeholders around corridor strategic plans. Chicago State University is hosting community-wide meetings, especially on environmental issues and neighborhood development. Northwest Indiana Development Forum and NRPC both have quality of life improvement initiatives in Northwest Indiana.

Environmental agencies have improved public participation processes. Communications between U.S. EPA and citizens is better. U.S. EPA has made community planning/participation more of an issue than before.

The City of Chicago's Brownfields Forum created new opportunities for public participation in policy-making. The same is true for Southeast Chicago Development Corporation's Corridor Strategic Plans. The Northwest Indiana Brownfields Redevelopment Project has brought together firms, community residents, and government, as has the Grand Calumet River Visioning project.

Several region-wide planning efforts are planned. Center for Neighborhood Technology intends to create something like its transportation commission, a broad stakeholder group, to reach consensus on development priorities and implementation in the Calumet region. David Eubank at the Chicago Department of Environment hopes to bring stakeholders together to collaborate on an integrated planning effort aimed at environmental and economic revitalization of the Lake Calumet region in a joint project with the University of Illinois. Judy Beck of U.S. EPA's Great Lakes Program Office plans to hold a broad dialog on regional priorities for ecosystem restoration on the Illinois side of the region.


Bi-state cooperation is increasingly possible because of growing collaboration among communities in Northwest Indiana. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and Hammond are cooperating to restore Wolf River. The East Side community is actively working with Hammond. There is information exchange about brownfields redevelopment. There is growing interest in working together on natural resource management. The Sea Grant Program has brought people together from both sides of the state line for several meetings about the future of the region, as has City Innovation.

There are really good opportunities for working across the state line on such areas as Grand Calumet River improvements, Little Calumet River flood control, brownfields redevelopment, or Calumet Ecological Park.


There are some businesses, colleges and universities, and community organizations willing to work together to improve school to work transitions and adult education. Calumet Area Industrial Commission is planning to establish a network of training providers and human resource directors in conjunction with community organizations to develop a program for developing the skills of local workers. SCDCom is working with Verson Corporation. Morrison Knudsen has an apprenticeship program. The Center for Neighborhood Technology is trying to fund a community needs assessment to identify the environmental remediation job training needs of local industries, contractors, and consulting firms. DePaul is working with local organizations to train lead abatement technicians.

In Northwest Indiana, a major initiative is underway, both to certify teachers and to coordinate and improve school-to-work transitions. The Northwest Indiana Forum made improving teacher credentials and school to work opportunities one of its priorities because of concerns about educational quality in Northwest Indiana.

Health and human services systems I found out very little about, or about other systems to support human development. There was no time for deeper exploration in this area, but there is clearly a great deal happening in the areas of housing, health, and social services. Progress includes the new El Valor family learning center which should be complete by the end of 1997. The South Chicago Neighborhood Housing Collaborative made up of Claretian Associates and NHS of Chicago will invest $2.6 million in the next two years. NHS, UNO, and Claretian Associates are encouraging homeowners to upgrade their properties. SCDCOM also is renovating apartment buildings.


There is today a great deal of interest in renewal of the Calumet region, both in Southeast Chicago and Northwest Indiana. There are many big problems in the region, but there is also enormous energy to turn things around among the 20 people who were interviewed for this project and many other stakeholders whose names and affiliations are summarized in Appendix A.

The key proponents of the Calumet region who were interviewed for this report tend to share a common core goal:

Make the Calumet region a desirable place to work, live, and do business for current residents and residents far into the future.

What people see as key levers is different, but complimentary, including creating a strong regional economy, enhancing the region's natural assets, allowing residents a safety, health, and economic opportunity, ending the use of the region as a waste site, building a positive image and self-image, and building a sense of place and commitment to the Calumet region.

There have, from time to time, been grand plans for the entire Calumet region. There was one in Mayor Washington's Steel Task Force Report in the 1980s. There was one in the Calumet Airport plan.

Today, there are also several plans for the Calumet region on a smaller scale in which many people have invested time and hope, including SCDCom's Calumet Industrial Corridor Plan, Grand Calumet Task Force's Grand Calumet River Initiative, the Remedial Action Plan for Indiana Harbor, the CEPA Calumet Ecological Park proposal, Chicago Wilderness, and Indiana Development Forum's Quality of Life Initiative.

Some have proposed the creation and selling of a plan on the scale of the Burnham Plan for the Chicago Lake Shore, from the high-level civic leadership to the broad public education, including maps and materials for every household and schoolchild. However, most leaders in the region feel that that it would be best for a comprehensive planning process to evolve out of one of the current plans described above. This is a time to build upon the sprouts of revitalization already starting to grow, including both initiatives and in-place investments such as infrastructure capacity and material handling capacity.

What people who care about the region see as key gaps and opportunities includes the following:


  • Build support for, broaden, and put more resources into the Calumet, Burnside and Pullman Industrial Corridor Projects.
  • Coalesce stakeholders around improving the region's image, perhaps using some of the same tools in Southeast Chicago as the Northwest Indiana Development Forum in Northwest Indiana.
  • Try to identify something which puts the Calumet region at the cutting edge and can attract positive coverage. (Perhaps industrial development compatible with preservation of unique ecological assets or state-of-the-art intermodal transportation)
  • Encourage rapid appropriate development of large industrial sites, including USX, Wisconsin Steel, and LTV in Southeast Chicago.
  • Get stronger buy-in to education and training transformation from educational institutions.
  • Try to get plant managers to make connections with their corporate leaders who might take civic leadership in the Calumet region.
  • More fully assess, and if substantial, exploit economic development potential in:
  • Recycling and reuse (large amounts of wastes key industries produce, large potential for recovery, potential enhanced by large material flows through the region through the wholesaling sector, high job growth in wholesale scrap trade, regional capacity in handling and transporting materials, strong wholesale and transportation sectors, and potential to substantially reduce industrial energy consumption. However, there needs to be better documentation of the current capacity of material handling and transportation infrastructure)
  • Environmental remediation (a forgotten piece of the Calumet Airport proposal was to create a center for remediation/restoration technology and applications in the Calumet region.)
  • Intermodal Transportation (more jobs and economic activity in transportation could grow from the density of classification yards, intermodal terminals, and rail rights-of-way in the region. The Federal Railway Administration has been documenting the problem of rail congestion across the nation, including in the Calumet region.)
  • Port Development (because of NAFTA and other trade agreements, there is a new federal thrust for ports redevelopment)
  • Natural Areas Tourism (new tourism would accompany the creation of a Calumet ecological park. )


  • Help to ensure that the $50 million Chicago has for brownfields redevelopment continues to build momentum and provides an opening to articulate a broader strategy for the region.
  • Consider an initiative to brainstorm and explore ideas for how to recapture the costs of a broad clean up effort. Perhaps restoration of Calumet wetlands could be of value to the entire region for flood control as an alternative to capture of flood waters. Alternatively, urge research efforts to figure out if leaching from the Calumet region into Lake Michigan poses a significant health risk. Then any strategy for protecting Lake Michigan would have to include cleaning up Calumet region. Look for other ideas as well, including opportunities for material recovery, etc.
  • Repair, expand, and make efficient for intermodal transportation the convergence of water, rail and road to take advantage of the growth in freight movement. Create a competition for figuring out how to use rights of way, cope with traffic, and eliminate congestion in the region.
  • Support region-wide efforts to slow urban sprawl.


  • Support collaborative efforts with firms to spur pollution prevention.
  • Build on the Growing Regard for Calumet region open space to promote recreation and tourism opportunities, improve the region's image by spotlighting its uniqueness, and preserve irreplaceable natural assets. Specific ideas include:
  • Advocate for a positive outcome of the feasibility study exploring the proposal to create a Calumet Ecological Park which preserves resources while enabling industrial activity.
  • Support work to preserve and connect specific smaller sites in the region, such as the efforts of Openlands Project at Indian Ridge Marsh.
  • Take advantage of the resources provided by U.S. EPA Strategic Enforcement Initiatives, especially the supplemental environmental projects effort, to undertake open space projects. And fund more wetlands restoration through mitigation because the State of Illinois has begun to require greater mitigation (2 times the area) than under Section 404 (1.5 times the area).


  • Build stronger partnerships to increase local hiring and enhance opportunity for residents in the Calumet region.
  • Strengthen community-corporate connections so that companies participate in designing training and locals get good jobs.
  • Encourage universities and community colleges which serve the region to collaborate with firms and community organizations on adult training and school-to-work initiatives, perhaps even develop a training consortium with local businesses to retrain local employees, provide training techniques for managers, and help deal with regulatory compliance.


  • Achievements of the past decade are not widely known. Collect and publish stories about progress in an annual report or on the internet.
  • Help create momentum by showing that things are happening and there are opportunities to connect to other things happening.
  • Find a way for people, especially who care about very different aspects of life in the region, to share information on specific projects on a timely basis so joint opportunities can be identified, including across the state line.
  • Hold conferences to enhance community identity and allow others to see the richness of the area and become interested in it. Offer many parallel tracks for different interests, including pollution prevention, economic development, restoration and protection, economic development, infrastructure, community capacity, human capacity. Hold a plenary session on the historical/cultural/economic development/ ecological/human assets of the region.
  • Find some specific projects that all of the various interests in the region have an interest in and can work together on. For example:
  • Broaden SCDCom's Calumet, Burnside and Pullman Industrial Corridor Projects may fill the bill since they already have some support within the environmental community and, at least historically, the City Department of Planning and Development.
  • Build positive momentum through an Quality of Life/Image initiative. The Northwest Indiana Development Forum's Quality of Life Initiative brings together chambers of commerce in a planning group to reach out to schools, service clubs, civic organizations, government agencies, etc. to each come up with a 1997 project to improve the image of the region. Other ideas are dealing with perceptions about crime or contamination, highlighting assets, or improving gateways to the region, etc.
  • Create a partnership to collect and centralize data on the region. Everyone has some of the pieces. No one has them all.
  • With broad community involvement, develop indicators for progress on improving life in the Calumet region so that people can have annual discussions of how the area is doing.
  • If enough local interest builds from the efforts above, facilitate a locally-driven development process for the Calumet region to articulate a broader strategy for the region rather than ad hoc projects in a redevelopment process that excites people, allows them to see the possibilities, and gives them a place in decisions about the future.


Pick the best opportunity for strengthening bi-state collaboration from among current options and others, including (1) Clean Cities Designation (working with NIPSCO, ComEd, NRPC and NIPC), (2) Sustainable Development Round Tables (partner with Indiana University Northwest), (3) Transportation management (reduce tolls, develop south-suburban highway, develop West-Lake commuter rail line), (4) studies of the combined bi-state region lakes and wetlands systems, (5) collaboration on brownfields efforts, (6) a 1999 bi-state conference on natural areas to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Henry Chandler Cowles seminal ecological writings, (7) an economic forecast meeting for the Crescent corridor, (8) Calumet Ecological Park, or (9) River Corridor projects.



To build trust and momentum in the Calumet region, GSU might convene people around a specific practical problem where a success will be visible and helpful to everyone and encourage additional steps to be taken. The practical problems of broadest interest seem to be:

  • How to build the most efficient intermodal transportation system which takes advantage of the growth in freight movement to maximize economic activity, preserve and restore ecological assets, and create opportunity for regional residents.
  • How to create the most effective process in the U.S. to restore brownfield sites in a way which maximizes economic prosperity, preserves and restores ecological assets, and creates opportunity for regional residents.
  • How to improve the Calumet region's image, both self-image and external image.
GSU will need a co-convener who has local trust. I have not been able to identify neutral parties, but my sense is that SCDCom has the support of a few different constituencies and would make a good partner.


Building from GSU's strengths would support the idea of using LincolnNet specifically to benefit interaction in the Calumet region. GSU might propose a partnership with Chicago State University's GIS lab and Calumet Resource Center and the City of Chicago to provide information on the Calumet region. It might first co-convene a meeting on what people most want to know about what is happening in the region. Then it would develop a data collection plan and create an interactive web site on the Calumet region where people can, for example, access economic, demographic, and other information, post what they are doing, meetings, projects, etc. ask questions, etc. There might be separate home pages for Southeast Chicago and Northwest Indiana and linkages to other relevant sites.


GSU might also co-convene several information-only meetings including stakeholders from Illinois and Indiana with the sole purpose of building relationships. One meeting, sponsored by the RAP/2000+ Openspace Alliance, might include environmental organizations only. The goal would be to improve the chances for the Calumet Ecological Park proposal by getting Illinois and Indiana groups to work together. Indiana groups have not been consulted up until now, even though the proposal includes parts of Indiana.

Another idea, proposed by an aide to Jerry Weller, would be to bring together elected and other officials from Illinois and Indiana to talk about their initiatives which affect the region and how they might help each other.

Tom McDermott has proposed that the South region of Chicago and Northwest Indiana compare notes and work together on education reform. Tom McDermott is particularly interested in national teacher certification, but the Northwest Indiana Forum has a broader school-to-work initiative as well.

Finally, with the goal of a 1999 bi-state conference on Calumet region natural areas to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Henry Chandler Cowles seminal ecological writings, GSU could help create a planning process now with subcommittees on ecological, historical, cultural, infrastructure, and economic assets resulting from, and which could result from, the Calumet region's natural areas. This project could also be part of an image initiative.


Because GSU is a university where leadership actively supports regionalism, GSU could set an example for reducing the balkanization in the Calumet region by spurring collaboration among universities around the theme of drawing from our knowledge and resource base to enhance the region. This is a more risky strategy than simply convening people, but it probably would be appreciated at least as much as a convening effort, if not more. Themes for collaboration include training for local workers, high school students, and adults with connections to local jobs; new joint environmental degree programs and courses on the Calumet region; and a collaboration among universities and research labs to use the Calumet region as a field lab and channel research resources into the region focused on environmental restoration and green jobs.

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