Joliet mayor whets appetite for State of City speech

O’Dekirk will deliver annual city outlook next week

Expect to hear more good news about the Joliet economic outlook when Mayor Bob O’Dekirk gives his State of the City speech Wednesday.

State of the City speeches by local mayors tend to be upbeat, anyway.

But the mayor won’t have to look far to find good news about the Joliet economy.

Doug Pryor, vice president for economic development at the Will County Center for Economic Development, reported what he called “record numbers” in some cases for Joliet when he provided an economic outlook to the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry two weeks ago. And Pryor said he was holding back in deference to the mayor’s upcoming speech to the Chamber.

The Chamber hosts the annual State of the City speech.

O’Dekirk gave a teaser for the speech this week during a City Council meeting in a reference to economic numbers he received from the city finance director.

“They are the best that I’ve seen, not only since I’ve been mayor but since I’ve been on the City Council,” O’Dekirk said.

O’Dekirk was elected to the City Council in 2011, so that would be about 10 years of numbers. He has been mayor since 2015.

Cullinan developments?

Cullinan Properties, the developer behind Rock Run Crossings, is one of three event sponsors for the State of the City speech.

Rock Run Crossings is the big development at Interstates 55 and 80 that hasn’t had any big announcements since 2019, when O’Dekirk at a State of the City speech broke the news that Regal Cinemas was signed up as a tenant.

Cullinan hasn’t had another tenant announcement since.

But news leaked last year that Hollywood Casino was exploring a move to the Rock Run Crossings site. No one has confirmed the move.

The development of Rock Run Crossings always has depended on a new I-55 interchange to give access to the site. Work on that interchange now is underway.

Maybe it’s time for another Rock Run Crossings announcement.

The mayor’s State of the City speech, by the way, is at Harrah’s Casino.

Mayor’s complaint

The mayor at times complains that The Herald-News never covers economic growth in Joliet.

He’s wrong about that, although he may be right that we should do more.

But it’s hard enough to keep up with the political machinations, city manager controversies and police intrigue in Joliet.

Still, with all that going on over the past few years, the city manages to pick its fights and make progress at the same time.

The biggest controversy of the past few years has been the NorthPoint project. I guess if your biggest controversy also is a plan that promises to produce 10,000 jobs and $18.7 million in local property tax revenue that says something.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News