By Dan Haley
Anan Abu-Taleb used forceful language Wednesday night to drive home to a room filled with Oak Park business leaders that past village economic development practices have deadened the local economy over the last decade.
"Time kills deals," the village president told the crowd gathered at the Carleton Hotel for the first annual meeting of the upended, retooled and renamed Oak Park Economic Development Corporation.
He said businesses and developers had walked away from Oak Park when "faced with uncertainties, multiple points of entry, higher costs, cumbersome processes [and] endless Plan Commission meetings. And ultimately these conditions are responsible for our current sluggish economy."
The stripped-back annual meeting was clearly a moment of transition for the more than 40-year-old organization. Sara Faust, a longtime staffer and corporation president for the past five years until she offered her resignation, gave a gracious farewell and offered thanks to many in the room.
But it was Abu-Taleb who turned up the burners on his effort to remake Oak Park's business culture. Referencing the recent downgrade in Oak Park's bond rating by Moody's, he suggested it won't be the last unless Oak Park changes.
"If we continue as we have, I see no light at the end of the tunnel. I see an oncoming train," he said.
Abu-Taleb said the choices facing the village are to cut services, raise taxes or actively welcome new business development.
"We need to support all who want to invest in our community," Abu-Taleb said. "We have made some progress but there is much more to do."
Answer Book 2018
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