CHICAGO (CBS) — Environmental groups have released a study outlining the economic benefits of cleaning up and making improvements along the Chicago River.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports boats sailed by and construction crews worked along the river as the Friends of the Chicago River discussed results of the study they produced with the group Openlands.
“What it tells us is that the Chicago River is important,” said Friends of the Chicago River executive director Margaret Frisbie said. “Water quality makes a tremendous difference in how we can interact with the river, but also provides us jobs; it provides us business revenue.”
She said each dollar invested in the river provides a 70 percent return through business revenue, tax revenue, and jobs.
Consultant Sabina Shaikh was asked if there were any surprises in the study.
“I guess the magnitude of the impact was much larger than I would have expected, but I don’t know if there was anything in particular that jumped out at me,” she said.
With two successive mayors who have pledged to make the river a centerpiece of the city, you might wonder who steel needs convincing of the importance of the Chicago River to the city.
Frisbie said members of the general public “still need to know that it’s broader than just the environment.”
“Sometimes the environment is considered … as something that’s not people,” she added, but she said real people benefit from improving the river.
Among other current projects, a new boathouse is set to open soon downtown along the river.