Job creation must be the first priority of the next representative from the Southland. Although we're one of the fastest growing parts of Chicagoland, we suffer from unemployment that is higher than the state and federal average. That unemployment rate has a significant, negative impact on our ability to create stronger, safer neighborhoods. If we can put people to work so they can put food on the table and take care of their families, we'll see fewer of our young people turn to crime and violence.
Investing in improvements and upgrades to our transportation infrastructure is one way to put people to work right away. Projects like the Illiana Expressway and the third airport that I championed in the senate, along with the Red Line extension are critical to the future economic health of the region. We must also work to develop the vacant industrial land and shuttered storefronts that dot the south suburbs and Southside of Chicago and build our manufacturing base across Cook, Will and Kankakee.
You cannot be pro-business without being strongly pro-education. We need to invest in schools and community colleges that give young people and re-tooling adults the vital skills they need to compete in a global market. Creating a better-skilled workforce will help attract more businesses to our communities. The Southland's biggest assets are our people who need and want jobs now, and the amazing potential of our transportation infrastructure. If we invest in those two areas--people and transportation--we can transform our future.