When the Joliet Arsenal was developed by the U.S. Army in the early 1940’s as a manufacturing plant for munitions, the 26,500-acre site 40 miles southwest of Chicago was selected because it was ideally situated adjacent to a major railroad line and within commuting distance for a large pool of skilled and semi-skilled labor.
In the following decades, the Arsenal became one of metropolitan Chicago’s largest employers, with more than 12,000 Illinois residents on its payroll during peak production years.
The Arsenal provided munitions critical throughout World War II as well as the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. In 1976 the Arsenal was decommissioned, leaving offices and factories as mute reminders of a once productive military installation.
The U.S. Army declared the Joliet Arsenal excess property in 1993.
When Congress passed legislation in 1995 to transfer the land for remediation, the Arsenal site was subdivided for both public and private use. The Joliet Arsenal Development Authority (JADA), through the state of Illinois, was established.
The role of the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority (JADA) is the adaptive reuse and transformation of 3,000 acres of land formerly known as the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. Our goal is to create quality job opportunities and foster economic development in the Will County area.
So far, more than 7,750 permanent jobs have been created as a result of the transfer and redevelopment of the land transferred to JADA. Over 10,000 construction jobs, totaling an approximate $150 million in wages, have also been beneficial to the economy. These numbers will continue to grow with the continued redevelopment of the former Joliet Arsenal.
JADA continues to successfully transform 3,000 acres of the former Joliet Arsenal into manufacturing and distribution business parks. In addition, overall economic growth of the region continues to increase the value of three of JADA’s major accomplishments—CenterPoint Intermodal Center, and Local 150 with the Operating Engineers Apprenticeship & Skill Improvement Training Facility and the future buildout of their industrial park.
CenterPoint Properties have led one of the most successful transformations of a Cold War arsenal into a vitally important component of the nation’s global trade system. In just a few years, the award-winning role of JADA in helping guide the conversion of a “Cold War Sword” into a “New Century Plowshare” has produced the Nation’s largest “Inland Port”, overall fourth largest Port in the United States and the largest export hub in the Midwest.
This conversion process began by producing a Strategic Plan specifically designed to guide the location through its evolution from a Cold War resource to an integral transportation and logistics component of the nation’s global trade structure. As the JADA Strategic Plan pointed out, the property is “strategically positioned” with respect to “the largest industrial marketplace in North America.” The transportation and logistics needs of global trade depend on the effective and efficient movement of container shipments from border and sea Ports to their final destinations throughout the nation. The successful implementation of the JADA Strategic Plan has guided the evolution of this property into an Inland Port of international importance in the global supply chain.
As was predicted in the Plan, the property has indeed become an integral component of “North America’s Intermodal Hub.”
The seeds which were sown by the JADA Strategic Plan quickly started growing and producing results with CenterPoint Properties investment of more than $3 billion dollars in development of the CenterPoint Intermodal Center. Anchored by the BNSF Logistic Park Chicago and the Union Pacific Joliet Intermodal Terminal this successful development became the driver of the I-55 and I-80 transportation/logistics corridors, which in turn attracted numerous other related companies to the region. The amount of industrial building space in Will County has more than doubled since JADA’s partnership with CenterPoint began. In addition to CenterPoint’s success, other developers have created additional logistics parks and industrial space in the region spreading the economic benefits to numerous municipalities. With this boom the region has benefited from significant private and public investments in infrastructure and ancillary development necessary to support the growing industrial base. As with any rapid pace of development, lessons learned through the process has enabled the project to serve as a model for other Intermodal Centers. As the harvest of JADA and CenterPoint’s strategy and investment continues to bear increasing fruit, the residents, employers and local governments will continue to see increasing economic benefits.