Joliet’s economic growth has seen a significant increase in the past year, with projects ranging from a prospective electric vehicle plant to new fast food franchises to small shops in the downtown area.
Projects ranging from a Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers restaurant to the Lion Electric Company Factory are scheduled to open in 2022, resulting in thousands of new jobs as well as new carry-out food alternatives in the coming months.
Planned development of an Olive Garden restaurant in Joliet was also submitted in 2021; while this may not seem like a big issue in many areas, residents of Joliet have been clamoring for an Olive Garden for years.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk stated that there will be further developments.
According to O’Dekirk, he has signed two non-disclosure agreements for ideas that are currently in the pipeline of being implemented.
“Development has been really positive,” the mayor stated regarding the year 2021.
The Lion Electric plant, which is planned to open in the second half of 2022 and eventually employ 1,400 people to manufacture electric buses and trucks, is the largest project now under construction.
According to O’Dekirk, “Lion Electric is a massive project — a wonderful feather in the cap not only for Joliet, but for the entire state.”
As part of the project’s announcement in May, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker visited the city.
“We believe that Illinois is the best place to locate if you are involved in the manufacturing of electric vehicles.” “We wanted to send a clear message to Lion Electric,”” Pritzker stated at the time, underlining how critical this project is to the long-term viability of Illinois’ economy.
Another project that drew Pritzker’s attention was NorthPoint Development’s contentious plan for the Compass Global Logistics Hub, which is expected to begin construction in 2022 and will consist of the development of 2,300 acres of storage space.
Despite pleas from both sides for him to become involved in the NorthPoint battle, the governor chose to keep out of the fray.
O’Dekirk feels that the city and City Council’s consistent support for the project was a key factor in attracting Lion Electric, and that the company will continue to bring business to Joliet in the future.
“We demonstrated to the community that we are serious about business and business development in Joliet,” O’Dekirk stated. “I believe the word from city hall was received positively.”
In addition, the city of Joliet will welcome Olive Garden in 2021, a restaurant that local residents had been clamoring for for so long that it had become a running joke. Although it submitted plans for a facility on the Joliet side of The Boulevard, the new shopping mall being built on land that is primarily in Plainfield but also includes some land in Joliet, the company was denied approval.
“I believe we’ve taken on considerably larger tasks,” O’Dekirk asserted. “However, I’m aware that it was something that made a lot of people happy.”
The majority of corporate expansion in Joliet, like the Olive Garden, is unlikely to have piqued the interest of the state’s chief executive. Residents of Joliet, on the other hand, will notice it as soon as the city’s businesses open.