Mayor John A. Ostenburg of Park Forest represented the South Suburban Mayors & Managers Association (SSMMA) at the “State of the County Community Breakfast” held at Nehemiah Christian Center in Harvey on Jan. 26. The event was sponsored by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Mayor Ostenburg explained the role of the SSMMA as one of ten councils of government (COGs) in the suburban Chicago region. He explained that SSMMA serves 45 different municipalities in south Cook and Will Counties, representing nearly 700,000 residents.
“We do things differently than some of the other COGs,”he said, “We learned long ago that none of our communities has a strong enough tax base to go it alone. So, we lock arms and work together.”
“The south suburban region has had great difficulty in attracting and maintaining businesses over the last several years,” the mayor said. “While the rest of Chicagoland has bounced back from the economic crisis of a few years ago, the recovery in our region has been much slower.” He complimented President Preckwinkle, Commissioner Deborah Simms, and the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development for the assistance they have provided in helping to jump-start business in the region.
“In some parts of Chicagoland, there’s so much commerce that it’s no great problem tolose a Target, or a Sam’s Club, or a Toys R Us, but in our region, losing those businesses –as recently has occurred –can be devastating. That’s why the support we receive from the county is so crucial. Without it, it would be impossible to bounce back.”
Others making remarks at the breakfast, in addition to President Preckwinkle and Commissioner Sims, were Arnold Randall, general superintendent for the Cook County Forest Preserve District; John Yonan, superintendent for the Cook County Department of Transportation; Susan Campbell, director of the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development & Planning.
Mayor Ostenburg is the immediate past president of the SSMMA and serves on its Executive Committee. He was joined at the breakfast by Mayor Robert Kolosh of Thornton.