Tinley Park digs out of tough economic times
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org May 7, 2014 3:10PM
Rick Mattoon, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, spoke at a business breakfast Wednesday, May 7, 2014, in Tinley Park. He said there are signs of an improving economy in the Chicago area. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: June 10, 2014 6:21AM
Tinley Park officials said Wednesday that an increase in building permits, particularly for commercial construction, indicate the local economy is continuing to improve.
At the village’s annual business breakfast, which serves as an overview of the local business climate, Mayor Ed Zabrocki and other officials said Tinley Park came through the recession because of a diverse tax base and conservative fiscal policy.
We “weathered the storm and demonstrated economic responsibility,” he said.
Also at the event at the village’s convention center, Trustee Dave Seaman, chairman of the board’s finance and economic development committee, said Tinley Park netted 232 businesses over the last six years.
The number of building permits issued has been recovering, though it is not approaching pre-recession levels. All permits, including residential and commercial remodeling, were up 10 percent last year compared with 2012. Permits issued for new commercial construction last year were up 19 percent from 2012, according to the village.
Vacancy rates have also come down in Tinley Park, indicating that commercial growth has picked up. The amount of vacant retail space dipped 5 percent in the first quarter of the year, versus a 9 percent rate in 2011, while over the same period the industrial vacancy rate was cut in half and now stands at 10 percent, according to village data.
After several years of depressed residential and commercial development, “we like to think we’re seeing better things coming,” Seaman said.
There’s also reason for optimism looking at the national and Chicago-area economies, yet uncertainties remain, said Rick Mattoon, senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Describing the economy’s recovery as “fitful and disappointing,” Mattoon said the benefits of the turnaround haven’t been evenly distributed. Those who were better off before the recession have enjoyed broader gains than less affluent households, and job creation isn’t as strong as expected.
He said that while the most recent jobs report showed unemployment falling, the number was skewed by people becoming frustrated with their job search and “dropping out of the labor force in fairly large numbers.” Because they’re not actively hunting for a job, they’re not considered part of the workforce and not counted among the jobless.
Still, Mattoon said there are enough positive economic signs that he and other economists are expecting growth this year to “feel measurably better” than 2013, although economists thought growth last year would be stronger than it turned out.
He said that in the Chicago area, the housing market continues to improve, and manufacturing remains strong.
Yet, Mattoon said there is a “lot of fiscal uncertainty” hanging over the Chicago area and the state as a whole, with budget and taxation issues making companies from out of town think twice about expanding into or relocating to Illinois.