Lakefront Economic Development Group Bringing New Wave of Cooperation

By Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) - Back in May, we had our first meeting of what has become known as the Lakefront Economic Development Group. The purpose of this group was to bring together local leaders from Beach Park, Winthrop Harbor and Zion to discuss their mutual interests and goals for how to revitalize our beautiful natural resources at Illinois Beach State Park and North Point Marina. At our first meeting we brought in officials from the Department of Natural Resources, DNR Coastal Management, the EPA, CMAP and others.

Lots of discussion has led to a wonderful exchange of ideas and the bringing in of new people to this core group such as tourism officials and how to seek grant funding for projects. The group has discussed everything from regulatory changes, to general repairs and alternative funding resources, and the flow of ideas has led to the three communities working together to bring together the common goals of their own community plans.

Our current initiative is to repair and connect all the bike paths from the two state parks, the forest preserves and the three communities together, to generate more traffic to the lakefront, and more enjoyment of our natural resources. This is a small initial step, but it is movement that is leading to more development and continued cooperation to make the northwest lakefront a major economic driver for our communities.

I’m so thankful to all the people who have been working together as a part of this group and continue to be involved with it. It won’t happen overnight, but real progress is being made.