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Our Work

Many if not all of the projects proposed by the GWDC are not new.  Existing planning documents and studies produced over the past few decades have provided a solid development context through one or more of the goals, objectives, and recommendations contained within.  This approach ensures our work aligns with the community vision established through previous outreach.  The following plans are at the core the GWDC’s efforts:

Urban Land InstituteAn Advisory Services Panel Report (2002)

City of WaukeganLakefront-Downtown Master Plan (2003), Lakefront Active Implementation Plan (2016)

Lake County PartnersComprehensive Economic Development Strategy for Lake County (2012)

Waukegan Port DistrictWaukegan Harbor Master Plan – Draft (Projected Completion 2017)

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is an essential component of every program the GWDC is pursuing within Waukegan because of the benefits such as walk-ability, density, and environmental sustainability.  TOD projects generally concentrate efforts within a 1/2 mile radius around train stations and include residential and commercial/retail development.

Waukegan is the ideal location for a TOD project because of the Metra train station’s proximity to both the heart of downtown and the Waukegan Harbor.  The Lakefront-Downtown Master Plan and the Lake County CEDS both identify TOD as a priority in order to help with redevelopment efforts.

Downtown TOD Ring

Mixed-use development encourages complimentary activities either in the same buildings or within close proximity to one another to enable densities not otherwise achievable through single use zoning.  By locating residential next to recreational and commercial uses, residents can be close to employment centers, public transportation, and public spaces without requiring the use of vehicles.

The Lakefront-Downtown Master Plan created by the City envisioned TOD and mixed-use as a means to encourage the density required to spark redevelopment in the downtown and lakefront areas.  The Greentown Redevelopment Project attempts to implement this vision by including over 275 residential apartments and mixed-use structures along Genesee Street with restaurants and retail shops supported by the residents and visitors.

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The downtown and lakefront areas provide residents and visitors an unparalleled experience in Lake County.  Not only did the City of Waukegan recognize this in both their Master Plan (2003) and Lakefront Active Implementation Plan (2016) but the Lake County CEDS (2012) developed by Lake County Partners as well, making it one of their target industries to focus on to ensure a top notch quality of life for residents of the county.

The GWDC Celebrates and Real Estate Development Programs enhance the quality of life for residents and bends traffic to the downtown and lakefront areas through engaging programming and the development of recreational infrastructure.  Our Festival Series at the Waukegan Harbor stretches from May thru September and draws thousands to the lakefront from all over the region.  By complementing existing amenities such as the Genesee Theater, the multitude of art galleries, and the beautiful waterfront the area will become the destination in Lake County for waterfront recreation and entertainment.

Mexican Independence Celebration September 2016

Economic vibrancy relies upon local businesses who are well managed with an ability to grow and prosper.  The Lake County CEDS, developed in 2012, recognized this and included entrepreneurial development as a key objective to maintaining economic vitality and quality of life in Lake County.  The study, which was funded in part by a grant from the Economic Development Administration, was developed in order to provide a roadmap for economic development for stakeholders in the area.

The GWDC supports this objective by providing technical assistance, office rental and co-working space, and identifies resources to foster the development of business.  The Lake County Tech Hub provides small businesses and entrepreneurs with access to discounted office space to reduce overhead costs during early stages of growth.

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Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is an important source of funding for economic development throughout the United States.  In Illinois alone, between 200-600 thousand jobs are supported through foreign investment.

The GWDC participates in and encourages FDI through its SelectChicago® program, which is a Premier Investment Conference (click here) being held June 14th – 16th, 2017 to coincide with Select USA in Washington DC June 18th – 20th, 2017.  SelectChicago® provides economic development organizations access to foreign direct investment putting Cities, Counties, and EDO’s directly in contact with investors around the world.

SelectChicago® is organized by the GWDC, The International Trade Association of Greater Chicago, and The Chicago International Trade Commissioners Association.

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