When Sheila Chalmers-Currin became mayor of south suburban Matteson in 2017, she had to govern a village that had seen a portion of its economy gutted. The spread of e-commerce contributed to a steep decline of the retail sector, especially among big-box stores. That hit Matteson especially hard. The village eventually lost its Target store, Sam’s Club, a Toys R Us and others. It even lost its only full-service grocery store when Dominick’s closed in 2013.
It was clear Matteson, like many towns dependent on brick-and-mortar shopping districts, needed a new strategy, according to Chalmers-Currin.
“I was baptized in what can go wrong in retail,” she said. “We experienced what a lot of communities that look like my community have been experiencing. The Village of Matteson was the canary in the mine.”
She decided that e-commerce, the sector that damaged so much of Matteson’s economic base, was the very thing it needed to rebuild. The predominantly Black village of nearly 20,000 cut a deal, announced in June, that allowed a developer to break ground last year on a 3.8M SF fulfillment center…
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