Over the years, the Transportation, Warehouse, Logistics (TWL) sector continues to grow in Grundy County. The county’s location at the crossroads of I-80 and I-55 has driven demand for industrial buildings, as has the location of the intermodal facilities located in adjacent Will County. This industry impacts the region in terms of property tax revenues, job creation and, unfortunately, stress on the highway infrastructure.
Grundy County has an excess of 10 million square feet of industrial buildings and a very low vacancy rate. The large buildings generate significant property tax revenue for the local taxing districts, the majority of which goes to the school districts. Many of the largest Grundy County taxpayers are part of the TWL sector. Within the last two years, Kellogg and BMW started construction on significant expansions, which will benefit the Minooka districts.
Job growth in the TDL industry has contributed to Grundy County’s record low unemployment. According to EMSI, a nationally recognized data analytics firm, the TWL industry has grown significantly. In the last five years, employment in the transportation business grew by 86% for Grundy, Kendall and Will counties. In Grundy County, TWL employment grew 21% for the same five-year period. In addition to adding new jobs, the wage rates grew 20% to 25% for a range of $13.63 to $19.04. Many TWL jobs are entry level and a great starting point for recent graduates or workers trying to establish a work history and gain employment skills.
The stress on the local highways from truck traffic is a regional issue for the Chicago area. The capital bill passed earlier this year in Springfield, allocating $41 billion for new projects. The most significant for Grundy County is the reconstruction of I-80 from Minooka to New Lenox. This $850-plus million project includes a new bridge structure in Joliet. Continued investment in highway infrastructure pays big dividends for the region in terms of improved safety, ease of transporting goods and lastly in road construction jobs.
Grundy County is fortunate to have a diversified economy that includes TWL, manufacturing, energy and health care. The TWL may be the newest sector to Grundy County, but it is having big impacts on the region.
• Nancy E. Norton is president and CEO of Grundy County Economic Development.