From 2000-15, the region expanded its developed footprint by nearly 12 percent, an area equal in size to the City of Chicago. Over the same period, employment remained flat, population increased by 4.6 percent, and many opportunities for infill development remained untapped. While local and state governments as well as nonprofits preserved 61,500 acres of open space, significantly more land was developed. To reduce costs, conserve land, and promote quality of life while meeting the economic, transportation, and housing needs of a growing population, the region must change the way it invests in infrastructure and development.

Strategic investment in new development is imperative in a climate of constrained resources. That investment must happen not only in places that are already centers of activity, but also in those that are rich with potential yet suffer from long-term disinvestment. These communities still have many assets, including their residents. These communities also deserve investment in parks and natural resources. The region will add 2.3 million residents and 900,000 jobs by 2050. Investing in careful growth is imperative to help the entire region prosper.