When approaching Economic Development the Village Voice has always focused on two strategic goals: (1) Government should better support our businesses and local organizations in town. Their growth and prosperity will in turn expand the village’s prosperity; and (2) Transparency of government’s decisions and planning need to be shared with residents and business owners. Sharing feedback and ideas should always be welcome.
For years, most villages separated their Zoning Board from their Economic Development Board, but the Village of Justice never did. Our Zoning and Planning Board focused on zoning and a future focused Comprehensive Plan but Justice never thought about supporting our existing businesses or developing a plan for business/commercial development. The Justice Zoning and Planning Board focused on zoning and issuing property variances and granting special use requests. The board was very successful on zoning requests but not on business development.
With Village Voice Trustee consensus, we changed the village ordinance to separate the Zoning Board of Appeals from the Economic Development Planning Board, so each can focus on their individual goals and activities.
Village Voice trustees then contacted Moraine Valley Community College’s Community and Continuing Education Division for their support and guidance as we initiated a plan to start an Economic Development Board. We needed professional guidance from experts and Moraine Valley contracted with Manheim Solutions to personalize training for our elected officials, our newly appointed Economic Development Director and Coordinator and newly appointed Economic Development Board of residents and business owners. Training materials were developed by Manheim Solutions and training was held. Through recommendations, a second year of training was made available through Moraine Valley Community College. Other villages, like Summit, Worth, Alsip and Chicago Ridge joined Justice as we continued learning. Our impact continued throughout the southwest suburbs through Moraine Valley’s Community and Continuing Education Division. All this happened with the support of our Village Voice Trustees.
We continued our Economic Development activities and impact:
- Our Economic Development Planning Board meets every-other-month to share business updates and with a goal of transparency, is available to schedule business/commercial development plans with prospective developers and our residents.
- We developed a business visit plan, where the Economic Development Board members, the Economic Development Coordinator and I visit Justice businesses to both learn about their business and ask owners/managers how Justice can support in their development plans.
- We created a marketing plan, which we called “Building Justice Together” that focused on visual changes to the village.
- We asked village business owners and residents to join us as we planted trees along Roberts Road and planted perennial flowers in front of the ‘Welcome to Village of Justice’ entrance signs.
- We installed LED lighting along the primary arterial roads in town to modernize the main streets.
- We installed new blue and white street signs that were in compliance with new state sign mandates.
- We developed an annual Business Milestone Recognition Program that honors businesses in town for longstanding service.
- Along with the Justice Chamber of Commerce, we jointly facilitate an annual Business Appreciation Dinner, where we recognized all businesses in town and celebrate their business progress.
- We developed a quarterly village coupon sheet, where we provide a marketing service to Justice businesses through distribution of coupons on a village created marketing sheet; freely distributed by the village in all public buildings in town.
- With the consensus from all elected officials, village staff, and the Economic Development Board members, we planned, developed and published a 5-year Strategic Development Plan 2016-2020, whose purpose is to document current and future government activities that will support economic development in the Village of Justice.
- Village Voice Trustees agreed to join organizations in town and attend regular meetings, which shows business support from a local officials. On a regular basis, we attend and participate in the monthly Justice Chamber of Commerce Board Meetings, the monthly Justice Park District Meetings, and the bi-monthly Justice Senior Club Meetings. Non-profit businesses are important to a vibrant community. Thus, Village Voice trustee Oszakiewski also participates in the fund-raising activities for Rosary Hill Home, as a member of their fund raising project committee.
- Village Voice Trustees recommended opening the I-294 Tri-State Tollway ramps in Justice, especially northbound to O’Hare Field, at Archer Road, to open additional economic development opportunities in the village.
Since 2013, these Justice Economic Development activities were implemented as the Village Voice Trustees teamed together, with the village staff, to Build Justice Together!