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South Suburban Airport supporters excited by bill’s passage

Supporters are awaiting the day when Gov. J.B. Pritzker calls them together for a legislative signing ceremony that will start the next stage of developing the South Suburban Airport. 

The airport is considered a stimulant for economic growth in the South Suburbs. It would complement the Chicago region’s cargo airport in Rockford.

“This is a touchdown for communities across the South Suburbs,” said Senator Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey, who represents Homewood in the legislature. He was the bill’s chief sponsor in the Senate. “This airport will serve as an economic engine for our communities and provide local businesses with access to global markets for generations to come.”

The legislation calls for the Illinois Department of Transportation to establish a process for prequalification offers from the private sector to develop the cargo airport. Action must be taken within a six-month window after the governor signs the legislation.


The plan is for the state to secure the remaining 10% of the property needed for the site in Monee and to make improvements to the roads and utilities so that the site is ready for development. A private company that will build and manage the airport. The state will lease the property.

The chief sponsor in the House was Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, with Rep. Debbie Meyers-Martin of Olympia Fields, and Rep. Anthony DeLuca of Chicago Heights. In the Senate, the bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex, who represents part of Flossmoor in the legislature.

The bill passed 72-40 in the House in March, and the vote Wednesday, May 17, in the Illinois Senate was 33-20 with six senators not voting. 

“The airport holds the promise of bringing in countless opportunities for economic growth, job creation and increased revenue for our area,” said Joyce. “It only makes sense we are finally moving forward with the project after 40 years in the making.”

DeLuca said: “Development of the South Suburban Airport would be a long-term economic generator that brings good-paying jobs to our area. Regardless of your position on this issue, everyone deserves a final answer as to whether or not this project will move forward. 

“There have been years of valid, passionate debate on this topic, and having finality is the respectful thing to do. A lot more work remains, but this measure is a step in the right direction of providing a conclusive decision,” DeLuca said. “I will continue to engage local governments and stakeholders on this topic, and I look forward to hopefully seeing this project get off the ground.” 

Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., who represents Homewood and Flossmoor in Congress, was elated by the Illinois Legislature’s action. She said, “A cargo airport in the South Suburbs will bring in a host of new economic activity benefitting historically under-invested communities, creating a taxation base to fund our local schools, municipalities and services.”

Reggie Greenwood of the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation said the cargo-based South Suburban Airport “will be a capstone to continue the massive recent investments in manufacturing and distribution in the Chicago Southland.”

“We support this project to help create many exciting new opportunities for working families in the South Suburbs for generations to come,” said Illinois AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Pat Devaney. “It will jump-start the process leading to the thousands of good-paying union construction jobs to build the airport, and create many long-term career opportunities in the direct airport operations and all of the businesses that will develop around it.”

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