CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—November 14, 2012. Standing in the shadows of City Hall and the James R. Thompson Center, three ministers from the South Suburban Action Conference held a news conference on Tuesday vowing to shepherd the South Suburban Airport project to the start of construction.
In the wake of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s (D-2nd) absence, for medical reasons, SSAC President Rev. James Hunt said the SSA is bigger than any one person. “No one person can make it happen and no one person is going to stop it,” stated the pastor of New Hope Christian Community Church located in the south suburb of Monee IL.
After 20 years of starts and stops, SSAC said it will take the lead to prevent the project from getting mired in political maneuvering. In September, Gov. Pat Quinn announced the SSA had reached another major milestone toward approval with the submission of a draft Airport Layout Plan to the Federal Aviation Administration. SSAC members stated it is time for the General Assembly to appropriate the remaining $71 million to continue purchasing land for the airport, develop legislation that creates the appropriate governance structure in support of the SSA, to sign a Community Benefits Agreement, and to have the FAA remove the “regional consensus” requirement.
The grassroots, faith-based community organization said it will be calling on local, state and federal officials to do the right thing for residents of the Chicagoland area and Illinois by fast tracking construction of the SSA.
“We’re asking all local officials, Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and President Barack Obama to fast track the South Suburban Airport so it will be ready to accommodate the increase in air passengers and generate millions of dollars for Illinois,” explained Rev. Hunt.
Rev. David Bigsby, pastor of Upper Room Ministries MB Church in Glenwood, described south suburban residents as being angry, tired and frustrated by the actions of elected officials who allow $26 million of taxpayer money to go to Gary for its airport instead of being spent on the South Suburban Airport.
“We could have a casino in every village and it would not duplicate in terms of economic development and jobs what an airport can--which is to take the South Side and south suburbs off of economic death row,” admonished Bigsby.
Joining Reverends Hunt and Bigsby were retired Catholic priest Fr. Len Dubi, one of the original leaders of the SSA movement, and small business owner Fred Bridges. The south suburban businessman already has benefited from the project by being hired to provide photography and videography services.
Experts project the inaugural airport would bring more than 15,000 new and permanent jobs to the south suburbs. Designed to grow as air travel demand increases, the airport would eventually create more than 200,000 jobs that would provide an additional $17 billion economic benefit to the region.