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Councilwoman Judy Brodhead Gives Her Position on Economic Development in the Naperville Area

Downtown Naperville boasts a busy shopping area.

One of the most important groups informing our economic development is the Naperville Development Partnership, a public-private organization that looks at desirable economic opportunities for the city. Its large board includes many local stakeholders representing a variety of viewpoints, including small business owners, representatives of corporations housed in Naperville, hotel and restaurant representatives, Indian Prairie District 204 and Naperville CUSD 203 superintendents and two City Council members (I am one of the two). It focuses solely on projects that benefit entities within the City. 

Within the past few years we have seen the opening of Main Street Promenade East, with stores like J. Crew and Anthropologie. Washington Street has seen an expansion of Le Chocolat and the opening of Banana Republic. The renovation of the Ballydoyle’s Empire site on Chicago Avenue has been completed. Few suburbs in Illinois can boast top-drawer shopping in their downtown. Freedom Commons, the home of Maggiano’s, Morton’s Steakhouse, and Granite City, among others, is thriving. Since 2009, our total retail sales have increased from $2.4 to $3.2 billion, an increase of about 23%.

Maintaining a Fiscally Sound Government

Ribbon cutting at Hotel Indigo with Mayor Chirico and Mayor Emeritus Pradel

I am proud that in some of the most challenging economic times in the past 20 years, the City continues to make strides in cost containment and best business practices to maintain the quality services residents have come to expect, within a balanced budget. When I was elected to the council in 2009, the city was in the second year of a national recession. The most painful cuts to our budget were in personnel; the city reduced the number of employees by more than 12%. New employees come in under a new Tier 2 benefit structure, and almost all of our hires since 2008 have been filling remaining jobs as employees retire, not newly created jobs. 

As City Manager Doug Krieger notes, we have moved past “cautiously optimistic” to “optimistic” when it comes to our budget. In an economy where so many public bodies are in deep fiscal difficulty we have worked hard every year to balance our budget in Naperville. In 2015, the most recent data available, Naperville's car dealerships and gas stations sold $1.3 billion of automobiles and gasoline. That is second only to the city of Chicago, even though we are the fifth largest city by population in the state.

We must remain watchful of the needs for safety and social services for our residents and act to appropriately fund those critical needs. Funds to maintain the level of police, fire and public safety in the community should be a primary concern, as well as budgeting and planning with other agencies to maintain effective emergency services.

 

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