In creating Chicago Metropolis 2020, the members of The Commercial Club had reason to be ambitious in their plans. Nearly 100 years earlier, the same organization had commission Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago, a forward-looking document that helped to make the Chicago region the robust and attractive plan that it is today.
In 1996, The Commercial Club of Chicago undertook the Metropolis Project, an effort to ensure the preeminence of the Chicago Metropolitan Region in the 21st century.
The premise of the Metropolis Project was that the issues facing the region - Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Will counties - are interdependent. There are numerous issues vital to our social and economic well-being, which must be addressed regionally. These issues relate to unlimited, low density sprawl; concentration of poor minorities; the spatial mismatch between jobs, affordable housing and transportation; and disparate degrees of access to quality education.
More than 200 members of The Commercial Club examined those issues in special committees organized around six areas: education, economic development, taxation, governance, transportation and land use and housing. The committees consulted with experts and met with regional community, civic and government representatives.
The culmination of their two-year effort was a report titled: "Chicago Metropolis 2020: Preparing Metropolitan Chicago for the 21st Century." The report was released in March 1999, published in book form in 2000 and is now available for purchase from The University of Chicago Press.
A key recommendation of the report called for the creation of a new organization: Chicago Metropolis 2020. This new organization continues the process started by The Commercial Club and is implementing the ideas contained in the report. Chicago Metropolis 2020 has focused on creating collaborations with other organizations and is developing a new kind of "civic entrepreneurship," in the region.
Chicago Metropolis 2020 is funded through foundation grants, corporate and individual contributions, and generous, ongoing support from The Commercial Club of Chicago.