Private firm to run Port of Chicago, could mean 1,000 new jobs - New York News

Private firm to run Port of Chicago, could mean 1,000 new jobs

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CHICAGO (Associated Press) -

A Colorado company has been awarded a 62-year lease to run the Port of Chicago and will make major infrastructure upgrades that will modernize the rundown facilities, city and Illinois state officials said.

While the Illinois International Port District board approved the privatization plan with Denver-based Broe Group on Friday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn announced the details on Sunday.

The Broe Group is expected to invest $500 million in infrastructure improvements at the port and create about 1,000 jobs by 2023, Emanuel said. The port, which is located at Lake Calumet Harbor and has facilities on Lake Michigan, has been self-funded with revenues from tenants. But it operated at a loss for about 10 years until 2011.

"Through smarter and efficient management of Chicago's port, we will reinvigorate a critical asset for our City in the area of transportation and trade," Emanuel said in a statement. He called it underutilized and rundown.

The plan also includes a partnership with Olive Harvey College, including internships.

Lawmakers created the district in the 1950s to encourage commerce at the Port of Chicago. However, city officials pointed out that there haven't been any major infrastructure changes in about 30 years.

Emanuel played up his efforts to improve the port. He named a new district board chairman, Michael Forde, in 2011. City officials said the following year that the district wasn't losing money for the first time in a decade.

Other privatization efforts in Chicago have been controversial. The city's aldermen faced much criticism for hastily approving a 75-year deal in 2008 under former Mayor Richard Daley that made Chicago's parking rates among the most expensive nationwide. Emanuel, who acknowledged the parking deal became a national embarrassment, recently pushed for free parking on Sundays as a concession.

With the port deal, Emanuel emphasized that officials conducted a competitive bidding process.

The Broe Group is a family-owned international investment and management company.

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