A business update provided by local leaders at a Green Oaks, Libertyville, Mundelein, Vernon Hills (GLMV) Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday was largely positive. Leaders indicated that retail sales and the demand for hotel rooms in Lake County are both on the upswing.
"We're seeing some positive signs that we're continuing to recover from the Great Recession," said Michael Stevens, president of Lake County Partners. The organization is a 501c3 economic development corporation. "But it's also fragile."
Stevens said in Chicagoland, retail sales are up 5 percent. In Lake County, the demand for hotel rooms is up 6.7 percent, and a lot of that is business-related travel, he said.
Though Stevens is concerned about the number of office vacancies in Lake County, which are "a little higher than I'd like to see," he is confident in Lake County's position economically.
Locally, Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler said things are looking great, overall, in the village. He noted the two successful referendums in March — one for electric aggregation and the other for $20 million in road work. Those referendums will result in a 44 percent drop in electric rates and "five years’ worth of grinding, paving and rebuilding" local roads, respectively, Weppler said.
Downtown Libertyville is thriving, he added, with three new restaurants opening within the next couple of months. He also highlighted the busy summer ahead, with events taking place almost daily.
"There is a downside," Weppler noted. He mentioned the possibility that the state of Illinois, with its budget woes, could freeze and divert part of municipalities' tax revenues to help balance its own budget.
"Otherwise, Libertyville is doing great," said Weppler.
Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman said that in the next couple of years, the project of the utmost importance is Route 53. The Illinois Route 53/120 Blue Ribbon Advisory Council recently approved its final report recommending the Illinois Tollway move forward with an Illinois Route 53/120 Corridor project. Stolman called the move monumental.
"This is actually historic," said Stolman. "There was resounding consensus, there's no doubt about that. (Route 53) is a bridge to the future."