Tooltip in this paragraph Since most of us already use the space behind the passenger seat to carry our refrigerator or cooler, we decided the real estate under the grocery carrier was far to{{footnote here}} valuable to ignore anymore. We designed an aluminum stand to raise the refrigerator up and allow for the affordable housing( Housing that costs the owner or renter no more than 30 percent of household income ) much needed area for camp chairs, shoes, helmets and other items floating about the in the interior. Beauty of this fridge stand is that it will work in any van, not just the VW test test again and again dsfasdf


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Strengthening where we live

Creating and sustaining vibrant communities can help the region compete and thrive, offering residents and business many choices for where to live and work.

ON TO 2050 will make the region and its communities stronger by targeting resources, improving planning, encouraging collaboration on fiscal and economic issues, preserving high quality open space and agricultural assets, and promoting housing choice.

ON TO 2050 continues our region’s emphasis on reinvesting in communities and infrastructure, while also offering new guidance to enhance quality of life. Supportive initiatives by many actors will collectively enable progress toward these goals. Some communities have a wealth of expertise and resources for these initiatives, while others struggle to raise revenues for basic services. Reinvestment can be complex and costly. Progress will require targeted, coordinated action by transportation, funding, land use, housing, environmental, and economic development programs that are sometimes disconnected. ON TO 2050 envisions comprehensive action by municipalities, CMAP, counties, Councils of Governments, the State of Illinois, transportation providers, the federal government, and civic organizations to support local decision making and continue to foster high quality places through 2050.

ON TO 2050 also emphasizes preserving high quality lands and implementing sustainable development patterns with fiscally responsible expansion. Many communities make expansion a high priority. Such growth can be implemented in ways that preserve natural assets and reduce long-term costs. Continued land preservation conserves our natural assets today and for future generations. Implementing new development in ways that make efficient use of existing and new infrastructure will limit long-term costs and support resilience.

Creating and sustaining vibrant communities can help the region compete and thrive, offering residents and business many choices for where to live and work. Increasingly here and nationwide, all people want diverse, walkable, and accessible communities with popular amenities, in both urban and suburban locations. Meeting this demand will also support public transit and ease commutes, but must be accomplished while also creating affordable housing options. Most importantly, the region cannot succeed without concerted investment in low-income communities of color to rebuild jobs, amenities, and resources. Investment for continued economic growth and success for the entire region should include investments in communities with limited resources for rebuilding infrastructure and amenities needed for jobs, housing choices, and healthy living.

This section outlines recommendations to promote:

  1. Inclusive growth by rebuilding communities to create opportunity close to where people live, increasing local revenues, and enhancing local government capacity and expertise.
  2. Resilience by preserving high quality natural areas, incorporating sustainable practices into all development, and leveraging data and expertise to plan for market realities, infrastructure needs, and fiscal stability.
  3. Prioritized investment in and careful expansion of our built environment to ensure fiscal, economic, and environmental sustainability.



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.

The region’s population overall is growing older and more diverse, businesses’ location preferences are changing, and more residents want to live in walkable communities. Strong, livable places offer a range of housing, transportation, employment, and amenity options to meet these changing needs. While their character varies according to local goals, vibrant destinations and communities attract activity and investment. Strategies to shape these communities build on each other and also contribute to regional resilience. For example, compact development patterns support cost-effective public transit service and also facilitate walking and biking; transit and non-motorized options, in turn, improve mobility and public health and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions; these prioritized investments reduce infrastructure costs and promote fiscal sustainability. Fostering strong places throughout the region provides many opportunities for improving quality of life and economic results for the region’s residents and businesses.

Through their role in planning for and regulating development, municipalities and counties support small but significant pieces of regional markets for commercial and industrial developments, many of which house companies that make up the region’s economic base. Cumulatively, these choices affect transportation costs, congestion, and commutes. Local governments attach higher priority to certain types of economic development for many reasons, from meeting local employment goals, to quality-of-life concerns, to the potential for fiscal benefit. The interaction of local and regional markets and tax policy can limit the revenue potential of some communities. As a result, some local governments struggle to maintain infrastructure in a state of good repair, provide desired services, or ensure that staff and elected officials have the training and resources to be effective and innovative.

ON TO 2050 encourages providing support for industries that connect the region to the global economy, increasing local cooperation on economic development, and changing tax policies at the state and local level to support more development types and provide local governments with more paths to success. These strategies can also reduce competition and overbuilding of some development types, lowering costs and improving fiscal outcomes for the region.

Aerial view of Chicago Metro area

Growing the economy

Developed and emerging economies around the world have been transformed in recent years by new technologies, advances in freight and logistics, and evolving consumer demand. These trends and climate change will increasingly shape global commerce. Metropolitan Chicago is well-positioned not just to withstand these complex factors but to seize new opportunities due to our strengths among a range of industries and our diverse and skilled population. The region is also endowed with the preeminent North American freight hub, active and engaged civic leadership, and world-class institutions of education and research.

ON TO 2050 seeks to improve our region’s ability to adapt in a changing global economy and to thrive by reducing economic inequality. Metropolitan Chicago needs to improve opportunities for employment and robust economic output while taking deliberate steps to ensure prosperity for all. These goals — economic opportunity and growth — are inextricably linked. As our prolonged slow growth continues to lag behind peer regions, lower- and moderate-income residents are leaving to seek economic opportunity elsewhere. Sustaining broad economic growth requires improving the region’s business environment to enable industries and workers alike to compete globally and prosper locally.

While healthy competition within the region has its benefits, emerging opportunities and challenges increasingly require a regional approach for economic and workforce development to capitalize on our distinctive assets. Human capital( The skills, knowledge, experience, and ingenuity of the region’s residents ) — among the most important determinants of regional economic vitality — transcends jurisdictional boundaries. Amid stagnant growth in the labor force, institutions of higher education and research help to retain and develop the region’s innovative talent. Business expansion depends on reaching markets around the world with goods and services that can compete successfully in the global economy.

ON TO 2050, as a whole, seeks to ensure metropolitan Chicago’s future economic success. The recommendations in this section address the initial steps in workforce and economic development that are necessary to achieve broad prosperity. Investments in such activities must be inclusive, prioritized, and responsive to market shifts and economic outcomes. Metropolitan Chicago’s lagging growth underscores the need to organize currently diffuse policies and programs and, when appropriate, to align local objectives with regional goals. It also accentuates the need for widespread, coordinated actions rooted in the needs of particular communities and industries. Several strategies seek to ensure that residents can access opportunity and thrive in the workforce. While these recommendations are geared toward addressing needs of the working-age population, the importance of equitable access to high quality pre-school through secondary education cannot be overstated.

This section describes recommendations to promote:

  1. Inclusive growth by broadening opportunities for innovation and promoting pathways for upward economic mobility.
  2. Resilience by taking a regional approach to economic development and better preparing the workforce for future economic shifts.
  3. Prioritized investment in coordinated economic and workforce development activities.


The region is endowed with extensive assets, including its people, industries, educational and research institutions, infrastructure, and location. Yet, the region has experienced prolonged slow growth. During 2001-16, overall economic productivity here increased on average just 0.8 percent annually, coupled with just 0.2 percent annual employment growth.{{Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning analysis of Bureau of Economic Analysis and Economic Modeling Specialists International (Emsi) data.}} Across numerous metrics, the region has consistently lagged behind peers and national averages. Advancing the region’s economic goals requires action now to bolster a range of private and public initiatives already underway on a regional level. Moreover, economic opportunity and prosperity remain out of reach for many residents, particularly for black and Hispanic residents and people with disabilities. These disparities frequently have roots in discriminatory policies and practices that have shaped opportunity for people in the region and across the nation. New research points to the need for coordinated action by underscoring the role of economic inequality in impeding metropolitan Chicago’s ability to start and sustain stronger growth. In short, state and local governments, the private sector, and educators need to pursue continuous improvements to excel in a modern economy. Smart, inclusive, coordinated strategies can ensure that metropolitan Chicago remains a destination for business activity, innovation and invention, and diverse human capital( The skills, knowledge, experience, and ingenuity of the region’s residents ) .

Today’s economy has grown increasingly complex, transformed by technological advancements, global competition, emerging industries, and evolving consumer demand. As a result, metropolitan Chicago needs to strengthen itself in light of both anticipated and unforeseen economic shifts of the future. Effective public policies and public investments can connect limited resources across governments at every level with private and nonprofit partners. Yet decisions directed at workforce and economic development frequently lag far behind the pace of change and do not reflect the breadth or scale of our region’s economic assets. Instead, administrative challenges or insufficient information can limit the economic benefit of public expenditures. Analysis of the regional economy makes it clear that achieving stronger growth will require policy-based decisions executed through coordinated, sustained initiatives rooted in the needs of particular communities and industries. The effectiveness of these efforts can be bolstered through better coordination that is performance-based relative to goals, responsive to changing demands, and strategic in leveraging the region’s strengths. Metropolitan Chicago remains a global economic engine, and by enhancing our workforce and economic development practices, we can secure our position in the 21st century’s changing markets.

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Inclusive growth, resilience, and prioritized investment help guide ON TO 2050.

Residents of metropolitan Chicago live and work here because of the many opportunities for prosperity that the region offers. We are home to diverse industries, a well-educated workforce, and world class institutions of higher education. The region remains a nexus for rail, air, water, and automotive transportation in North America. In the past decade, the region has made great strides on investing in its transit and road networks, preserving high-quality open space, and fostering livable communities. At the same time, we are struggling to keep up with our peers economically, making do with less revenue to maintain our aging infrastructure, and facing growing inequality.

The Chicago region has a tradition of seizing its destiny rather than leaving the future to chance. To thrive, we must address our challenges collaboratively and ensure metropolitan Chicago’s status as a global center of commerce, a place where opportunity is open to all.

Our progress has stalled for reasons that are complex but by no means irreversible. By systematically investing in our residents, infrastructure, and communities, as a region we can make tangible progress toward broad, lasting prosperity and quality of life. Most important, while we possess the assets necessary to succeed, we are strongest when we coordinate our efforts region-wide.

Today’s youth will be leaders of the Chicago region by 2050. Read about three high school students and their dreams for the region’s future.
Read their story

In developing this ON TO 2050 comprehensive regional plan, CMAP spent approximately three years working with partners to conduct extensive research, issue more than two dozen reports, and engage over 100,000 residents of the seven-county region. The plan affirms and builds on the recommendations of its predecessor, GO TO 2040, to offer specific direction where needed and identify additional priorities. The plan process identified three clear, overarching principles:

  • Inclusive growth: Growing our economy through opportunity for all.
  • Resilience: Preparing for rapid changes, both known and unknown.
  • Prioritized investment: Carefully target resources to maximize benefit.

These principles will inform every recommendation in ON TO 2050’s five chapters of Community, Prosperity, Environment, Governance, and Mobility.

Jerry Adelmann, president and CEO of Openlands, talks about the importance of protecting our region’s natural landscapes. Read more in the Environment chapter.
Read Jerry’s story

Regions that offer economic opportunity for residents regardless of race, income, or background enjoy longer, stronger periods of prosperity and fewer, shorter periods of economic stagnation.

Metropolitan Chicago simply cannot thrive when so many people and places are left behind. Despite our many enviable assets, we fall short of ensuring economic opportunity for all residents. Though also true of many other regions, this unfortunate reality is particularly evident here according to numerous measures based on race or ethnicity. For a stronger, more equitable future, our region needs to ensure every resident and community has the ability to fully contribute to and benefit from the economy. By taking deliberate steps region-wide, together we can make progress toward inclusive growth across all seven counties and 284 municipalities and ensure a more robust economy.

Explore the data

Explore the disparate outcomes that minority residents in the Chicago region face compared to other metropolitan areas in the United States.

Multi-chart graphic of disparate outcomes by race/ethnicity in select metropolitan statistical areas, 2012-16

Inequity persists when the location of someone’s home, their race or ethnicity, or socioeconomic status determine their economic success, health, and overall quality of life. This inequality manifests strongly along racial lines, and often can be traced to racially discriminatory policies and practices such as redlining, exclusionary zoning, school segregation, and predatory lending.{{Redlining refers to the now illegal practice of refusing to provide loans or other financial services in neighborhoods with certain demographic characteristics, such as having a high proportion of residents or business owners of color. The practice derives its name from maps developed by the federal Home Owners Loan Corporation in the 1930s, which outlined high minority or low income areas in red. For several decades, these maps were used by the Federal Housing Administration as well as banks and lending institutions to determine loan eligibility, effectively segregating neighborhoods and limiting access to wealth for minorities. For more information, see: Encyclopedia of Chicago, “Redlining”,}} Residents also experience health disparities depending on where they live and work. Promoting inclusive growth can disrupt these patterns and help the region be stronger and more successful economically.    


Estimated change in households by income level and race and ethnicity, Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area, 2005-15



    Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning analysis of American Community Survey data

    Note: Low income is less than 60 percent of area median income. Moderate income is 60 percent to 140 percent of area median income. High income is more than 140 percent of area median income.

    To compete in the global economy, we must tap the full potential of all our workers, businesses, and infrastructure. Currently, a substantial portion of the region’s human capital — embodied in the talents and skills of excluded residents — is being wasted. Paired with other strategies to capitalize on the region’s economic assets, emphasizing inclusive economic initiatives can help restart long-term growth in disinvested places and increase prosperity across the region.

    Strategies for inclusive growth can also help the region attract and retain a diverse populace. Having recently lost population — particularly among low and moderate income residents as well as black residents — we must take intentional, proactive steps to open doors in communities where opportunity hasn’t knocked for generations as well as pursue economic growth that benefits residents at all skill and income levels.

    Regionally, inequity also takes a toll on communities themselves, many of which have not recovered from the recession. Despite making prudent budget choices, too many municipalities find their tax base limited by long term disinvestment of people and jobs and resulting high vacancies. Combined with decreasing federal and state support, this lack of capacity can make it difficult for municipalities to provide essential services. Inclusive growth can help such communities stem these trends and control their own destiny.

    Long-term regional prosperity requires economic opportunity for all residents and communities.

    To remain strong, metropolitan Chicago requires communities, infrastructure, and systems that can thrive in the face of future economic, fiscal, and environmental uncertainties.

    By achieving “resilience,” our communities can prepare for and recover from acute shocks and chronic stresses. This requires making infrastructure, natural systems, and social structures more durable. In addition to rebounding quickly from, for instance, stronger storms and frequent flooding, a resilient region can actually capitalize on these challenges. To cite one example, if extreme heat causes pavement to buckle, it can be replaced not only by a road more resistant to extreme temperatures, but one also built to mitigate flooding and ensure reliable, weather-resistant transportation.

    “Resilience” refers to much more than climate change. Many communities lack the capacity — for example, revenue, staff, expertise, equipment, and other resources — to effectively implement local and regional goals related to services, land use, and quality of life. By pooling resources, deploying new technologies, and training staff, resilient municipalities can plan collaboratively to provide essential services even as federal and state support continues to diminish. While funding from the State of Illinois will continue to play a crucial role — though quite an uncertain one, due to fiscal conditions — in our prosperity, local revenue streams must become more resilient to economic forces beyond the region’s control.

    Working closely together to achieve resilience, our region’s communities can also prepare for inevitable challenges as global markets spur a transition to new types of work in emerging industries and change commercial, industrial, and even residential development patterns.

    Our region and its communities must anticipate and adapt to future challenges — both known and unknown — driven by climate, commerce, technology, and other factors.

    Debbie Liu has been part of planning for the future of her community to ensure it will be resilient and thriving in the future.
    Read Debbie’s story

    In any era, metropolitan Chicago requires wise stewardship of public revenues to maximize regional benefits. Especially when federal and state funding becomes less sufficient year by year, we must ensure “prioritized investment” for infrastructure, development, and the economy to maximize regional benefits.

    Prioritized investment extends beyond transportation infrastructure, to the built environment, technical assistance, and other public resources. For decades, funding of public services and infrastructure at all levels of governments has been stagnant or diminishing, yet costs continue to rise. Due to the need of new support for transportation in particular, ON TO 2050 identifies a number of alternatives to our state’s and region’s antiquated sources of revenue. We require funding methods sustainable and flexible enough for operating and maintaining a modern system of roads, transit, and freight, whose needs could continually shift due to emerging technologies and economic realities.

    Coordinating investment broadly — by linking transportation with housing, or targeting public expenditures to attract private resources, among other examples — is also essential for effectively using limited resources. To maximize the benefit of precious transit resources, for instance, requires land use decisions that support residential and commercial development so people can live and work near bus or train service. Making the best use of existing roadways through strategies like improved responses to weather and events, or managing demand through congestion pricing, can limit expansion needs. Similarly, stormwater management investments can meet multiple goals by also offering recreational options and improving water quality.

    Above all, prioritized investment requires close coordination across implementing agencies responsible for providing technical assistance or selecting projects transparently based on clear, measurable objectives. Local governments can take a similar approach to development through targeted reinvestment in existing places, paired with fiscally and environmentally sustainable expansion. To improve the existing system, we must address the backlog of transportation, water, and other infrastructure in need of repair or replacement, opting for expansion projects only when they meet clear regional objectives.

    We must carefully target public resources to maximize regional benefits for mobility, the economy, and quality of life for all residents.

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