Chamber Welcome

Greetings from Joliet! The Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry proudly presents the 2018 Lifestyle Magazine. We invite you to use this valuable resource to learn more about the many facets of our region, including history, education, health care, entertainment and recreation.

We also encourage you to keep this book handy to find Chamber-member businesses and organizations who support our community and its Chamber of Commerce. By patronizing their businesses, you are helping to strengthen our region’s business climate.

Established in 1914, our Chamber takes seriously its mission “to advance the interests of business, professional and service organizations in the Joliet Region, acting as their voice in governmental and social affairs, communicating and servicing their needs and thereby enhancing the business environment and the local quality of life.” If you are a Chamber member, you already know and benefit from the many programs and services offered to help businesses succeed.

If your business is not a member of our Chamber, we personally invite you to join the more than 1,200 member businesses that have come together to support each other and to build a better business community. Please refer to the back of this book for specific information on the benefits of membership.

Please feel free to call the Chamber office at (815) 727-5371 so we can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Mary Jaworski, President • Michael Paone, Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
63 N. Chicago St. • Joliet, IL 60432
Phone: (815) 727-5371 • Fax: (815) 727-5374
www.jolietchamber.com • info@jolietchamber.com


History

Route 66 has been described as an authentic impression of the “Real America.” In Joliet, this is no exception: Route 66 history is Joliet’s history! The original 1926 alignment passes through the heart and soul of Downtown Joliet, Chicago Street. “The Route” as it is simply known beckons travelers from all over the world with a promise of a new discovery around every turn and a true “DIY” travel experience.

When you enter Joliet, a 1950s ice cream parlor situated on a greenway invites you to stop for a frozen treat. You can almost see the 1950s era pastel, finned cars in the parking lot. Across the Ruby Street Bridge, the twin spires of St. Joseph’s Church marks the neighborhood once known as “Slovenian Row.” This neighborhood was once the site of a massive steel mill and factories which employed waves of Eastern European immigrants in search of a better life in the late 19th century. A small unassuming store front on Chicago Street markes the spot where entrepreneur Sherb Noble opened the first Dairy Queen in America in 1940.

At the Joliet Area Historical Museum, get your bearings in the facility’s expansive Route 66-themed welcome center where you can plan your trip, and learn how Route 66’s ancestor, the I&M Canal, moved goods and people nearly a century before the highway was established. The museum’s modern, fully interactive galleries offer a big-city museum experience while paying homage to the 1909 Ottawa Street Methodist Church by retaining its beautiful stained glass and architectural features.

At the center of it all in Joliet is the magnificent Rialto Square Theater. This incredibly lavish theater, modeled in part after the Palace of Versailles, was opened just months after Route 66 was established. The ostentatious Rialto hosted the most significant Vaudeville acts from the area while was also accommodating newfangled “talkies” that appeared across the country. Saved from the wrecking ball, the beautiful theater is an internationally-renowned source of pride for the community and an architectural treasure on Route 66.

Architecture abounds in Downtown Joliet. The famed “White City” architect, Daniel Burnham, built the city’s stately public library building in 1903, and over a half dozen buildings by Burnham’s architectural firm can be found in the City Center. On Chicago Street, the Woodruff Building was designed by Willam Baron Jenney, known as the Father of the Modern Skyscraper.

Joliet’s Union Station is also a must-see for Route 66 travelers. Al Capone was arrested here in 1927 just before Christmas on a “gun-toting” charge. Capone was attempting to allude authorities in Chicago by disembarking his train early in Joliet and driving back up to Chicago. It is said that the entire Joliet police force apprehended Capone and that it was the only time he was taken by authorities at gunpoint. When he went before a judge, Capone promised, “I’ll never tote a gun again. … in Joliet.”

Just off the route, visit the iconic Old Joliet Prison. Built in 1858 by architect W.W. Boyington – the same architect who built the Chicago Water Tower – the prison became even more famous in 1980 as the home of “Joliet Jake” Blues, portrayed by John Belushi. While the prison remains closed to the public, a pocket park and interpretative signage allows for a Route 66 visitor photo op!

South of Joliet, the former site of a World War II era munitions plant now blooms as Midewin, America’s only restored National Tallgrass Prairie. Walk scenic trails and experience what the area looked and felt like centuries before European settlement, including native species of bison.

Route 66 in Joliet offers an experience that rivals any community along the Route. In addition to a wealth of history, modern gaming, lodging, dining and entertainment are just located steps off of the “Mother Road” and will ensure your time on the road in Joliet is memorable!


Transportation

Joliet’s strategic location in ever-growing Will County, approximately 40 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, places it within easy access of the region’s centers of employment, recreational hubs and popular cultural and entertainment attractions. With its ideal position within the “Crossroads of Mid-America,” Joliet has become the perfect place for commuters, as well as business ventures.

GROUND TRANSPORTATION

By car: The city is served by an organized web of local roadways, including U.S. Routes 6, 7, and 52, State Highways 53 and 171 and is afforded quick access to Interstates 55 and 80. Interstate 55 is a major north-south highway vital to transportation of goods and commuters. Interstate 80, a vital east-west highway, meets Interstate 57 at Tinley Park and now offers a link to Interstate 355 at New Lenox – thanks to the opening of the Interstate 355 extension project, which was designed to not only reduce travel times, but also to efficiently link the quickly expanding county and its communities with additional major Chicagoland areas.

By bus: The Regional Transit Authority operates public bus service through Pace, which offers several fixed routes within Joliet. Pace also provides ADA Paratransit Service and Dial-A-Ride Service for those located in the Joliet community. For more information on fares and schedules, visit the Pace website at www.pacebus. com.

By rail: Centrally located in the city, the soon to open, brand-new Joliet Gateway Center offers both commuter and long-distance rail service. Two Metra commuter rail routes – Metra Heritage Corridor Line and Metra Rock Island District Line – service the station, providing quick transit to Chicago and a number of additional Chicagoland suburbs. For the long-distance traveler, a host of Amtrak rail lines run through Joliet Union Station, providing transportation to a number of Midwest cities, plus service to San Antonio, Texas (via the Texas Eagle Line). For more information on fares and schedules, visit the Metra website at www. metrarail.com and the Amtrak website at www. amtrak.com. What’s more, the Joliet region provides freight service through a handful of lines, including CSX, Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, EJ&E, BNSF, Union Pacific and Canadian National.

AIR TRANSPORTATION

Joliet is home to the Joliet Regional Airport, utilized for air charter service and a variety of pilot instruction programs for youth and adult. The airport is operated by the Joliet Park District and offers an array of modern amenities normally found through an airport of its size. The Lewis University Airport, located in nearby Romeoville, also offers instructional programs, as well as corporate charter opportunities through its facilities. Further air transportation, both domestic and international, can be found through both O’Hare and Midway airports. Each airport is situated within one hour of Joliet.


Residential Living

Joliet is the third-largest city in Illinois. Its population has nearly doubled over the last 20 years, ballooning from 76,836 in 1990 to 147,433 in 2010.

As Joliet continues to grow, so do its housing options. There is a home for everyone here – from luxurious estates to modest single-family homes and modern townhouses. Historic preservation work has resulted in many beautifully maintained homes from the city’s earliest days, while newer construction reflects Joliet’s dedication to the future. Downtown revitalization has also added to the local real estate market with the opening of apartment and condominium complexes in renovated structures, such as the historic Auditorium building and the former Louis Joliet Hotel.

The price of homeownership is just as appealing, with many families and individuals relocating to this southwest suburban area due to its affordable real estate and overall lower cost of living. Homes in Joliet start as low as $130,000 and go all the way up to the million-dollar range. Reasonable rental options are also available throughout the city, as are several excellent retirement homes for seniors looking for a low- to no-maintenance lifestyle.

The city’s safe, affordable, family-oriented neighborhoods – close to shopping, recreation, schools and a thriving business district – continue to bring in new residents who desire the perfect environment to raise a family and enjoy life at its best.


Recreation

Joliet encompasses much in the way of both active and passive recreation. Comprising the community’s landscape is a medley of amenity-filled parks, multi-use trails, golf courses and preserved natural areas.

One of the city’s largest sources for parks and recreation is the Joliet Park District. The park district operates nearly 80 well-maintained parks and facilities, and offers hundreds of different programs to residents of all ages. From early childhood learning, senior trips and sports for youth and adults to arts and leisure classes, safety courses and performing arts, there is truly something for everyone through the Joliet Park District.

Parks are scattered throughout the community, offering picnic areas, athletic fields, play equipment, tennis and basketball courts, recreational trails and plenty of open space. The park district’s list of rec facilities is extensive, as well, and includes the Hartman Recreation Center, the Inwood Athletic Club powered by ATI Physical Therapy, the Multi-Purpose Center, ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium and three golf courses. It also manages Pilcher Park, a 640-acre outdoor haven featuring multi-use trails, natural habitats, the Bird Haven Greenhouse & Conservatory, the Barber & Oberwortmann Horticultural Center and the Pilcher Park Nature Center.

In 2002, the Joliet Park District and the City of Joliet came together to open Splash Station Water Park – a summertime favorite. The park is home to the Midwest’s only 200-foot, six-lane racing slide, along with an 865-foot lazy river, various tube and body slides, a zero-depth pool, a sand play area and full-service concessions.

The options for recreation don’t end there. The Forest Preserve District of Will County maintains several trails in the Joliet area.

Several portions of the 1,200-acre Rock Run Greenway are located here, including the Black Road Access, Paul V. Nichols Access, the I&M Canal Access and the Rock Run Trail/Joliet Junction Trail loop.

The district also oversees the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site, which is an access point to the 12.5-mile I&M Canal Trail/Centennial Trail, which links City Center in Joliet to the Centennial Trail in Cook County.

The Greater Joliet YMCA is another staple in the local recreational community. Tens of thousands of residents use the Y each year for activities including aquatics, youth sports leagues, health and wellness programs and before- and after-school day care. The Greater Joliet Area YMCA currently operates five branches in the region, thanks to a recent official charter in nearby Morris. For those who prefer to exercise their minds, the Joliet Public Library system has been serving Joliet residents since 1876. The Joliet Public Library currently offers two facilities housing more than 300,000 books, 400 magazine subscriptions, numerous audio and videotapes, nationwide magazines and newspapers, reference materials and a calendar year of programming for all ages.

Forest Preserve District of Will County

Forest preserves are nestled all over Will County, beckoning nature lovers, exercise enthusiasts and wildlife watchers to visit and explore these pockets of paradise that are located just a short walk, bike ride or drive away.

Each year, thousands of people accept the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s invitation to enjoy their local preserves, lakes, trails and visitor centers. Whether you want to bike, boat, camp, canoe, cross-country ski, hike, fish, kayak, picnic or volunteer, the district has a spot for you that is close to home. The Forest Preserve District features nearly 22,000 acres of preserves and 127 miles of trails in all corners of the county. Around 200 programs are presented annually – most of them free – to educate, entertain and enlighten preserve visitors. From bird hikes in spring to sled dog racing in January, the district’s offerings highlight many species of flora and fauna as well as the history of the region and the many recreational activities that are available.

Off-leash dog parks that are sprinkled throughout the country provide wide-open spaces where both dogs and their owners can stretch their legs and socialize. The five dog parks are conveniently located in Homer Glen, Joliet, Naperville, Shorewood and Wilmington. A sixth dog park will open in Crete Township later in 2017.

Five unique Forest Preserve visitor centers are year-round hubs for learning and fun. Isle a la Cache in Romeoville celebrates nature and the history of the 18th century fur trade era. Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township hosts many children’s programs and is home to resident reptiles, a working beehive and an outdoor nature playscape. Monee Reservoir is an angler’s delight with a 46-acre lake and boat and sports gear rentals. Monee Reservoir is just one of 20 fishing spots located throughout the district. Some lakes are simply for the birds. For instance, only the magnificent herons, cormorants and egrets can fish at Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve in Plainfield each spring summer and fall as they nest and raise their families.

Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, located where the DuPage, Des Plaines and Kankakee rivers meet to form the Illinois River in Channahon, hosts programs and school groups and offers facility rentals for banquets, meetings and conferences. The center also features a picturesque setting for wedding ceremonies and receptions. Four Rivers is a model of green architecture, as is the Sugar Creek Administration Center, which is located in Sugar Creek Preserve in Joliet. Sugar Creek features a parking lot for equestrians who ride the 22-mile Wauponsee Glacial Trail, one of three equestrian trails that weave through forest preserves throughout the district.

For more information on the district’s programs and preserves, visit ReconnectWithNature.org or call (815) 727-8700.

VISIT YOUR LOCAL BRANCH TODAY!

C.W. Avery Family YMCA
15120 Wallin Dr., Plainfield

Galowich Family YMCA
749 Houbolt Rd., Joliet

Morris Community YMCA
320 Wauponsee St.,Morris

Smith Family YMCA
1350 Briggs St., Joliet

The Greater Joliet Area YMCA has been a mainstay in our community for 90 years. With four locations in the surrounding area – two in Joliet, one in Plainfield and one in Morris – the Y serves thousands of residents in Will and Grundy counties each day. As one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, the Y is committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

Think of the Y as more than just a place to work out; more than a place to swim; more than a place to play sports; more than a place for families to spend time together; and more than a place for seniors to socialize. The Y is all those things and more. The Y is a place where you belong.

At its core, the Y is about helping individuals reach their full potential, and giving them opportunities to connect with the community around them, all in service of making us better as individuals, communities and as a nation. That’s why, when you step through YMCA doors, you’ll find no shortage of quality programs aimed at creating positive change. From before- and after- school care to youth sports, group exercise classes to swim lessons, senior social clubs to diabetes prevention programs, everything it does helps strengthen local neighborhoods and the people who live there.

To meet the unique needs within the community, the Y works closely with a number of community partners. Through collaborations with school districts in Joliet, Plainfield, Morris, Minooka, Troy, Rockdale and New Lenox, the Y provides safe and affordable before and after school programs at dozens of area schools. Partnerships with Presence Health and Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers propel members to new levels of healthy living. It is through these types of collaborations that the Y is making a difference in the community each and every day.

There is no other place quite like the Y. Because the Y is for everyone, they it brings together kids, families, adults and communities like no other organization can. Through its scholarship fund, the Y provides financial assistance to those who need it most, ensuring no one is turned away due to the inability to pay. Last year, the Greater Joliet Area YMCA answered 8,000 calls for help in the form of $1.1 million in scholarship assistance to make its facilities and services accessible to all.

To learn more about what the Y can do for you and your family, visit www.jolietymca.org, call (815) SAY-YMCA or follow the Y on Facebook.


Sports Connection

Since the early part of the decade, sports have claimed a prominent place in the Joliet entertainment world. Many believe the growth of sports organizations in the area has helped make Joliet an important attraction for neighboring communities. Mark Basso, founder of the Joliet Autobahn Country Club, says the city’s diverse entertainment options are part of its appeal. “Joliet is becoming an entertainment capital of the Midwest,” he said. “There is nowhere else you can go to get all this in a small area.”

Basso’s Autobahn Country Club is built on the same concept as golf-oriented country clubs, except high-speed driving is the focus. Since 2004, the club’s private membership has grown to more than 350, and the public can take advantage of some of the Autobahn’s features, which are available through group bookings. “We have a fleet of go-karts that go 60 miles an hour, we rent cars and track by the hour,” Basso said.

The go-kart track is available for corporate events or private parties, and there are also options for those who want something faster than go-kart driving. “We also have a driving experience half-day program. We have a fleet of brand-new BMWs, five of the new 135i coupes,” Basso said. The half-day program includes an outing on the track.

Ever since NASCAR’s Jimmy Johnson won the Tropicana Twister-300 in 2001, Joliet racing fans have enjoyed a second high-speed sports option – the Chicagoland Speedway. This track features NASCAR and IndyCar competitions, and the 2008 season was the first to include night races.

The stadium has a 75,000-fan capacity, free parking and a busy race schedule. According to the Chicagoland Speedway official site, 40 hospitality suites are available for groups and corporations. The hospitality package offers a great view of the speedway, closed-circuit race coverage and even pit tours when weather and schedule permit.

The Chicagoland Speedway is co-located with the Route 66 Raceway, a staple for drag racing enthusiasts since 1998. Dubbed the first true “Stadium of Drag Racing,” Route 66 Raceway has a quarter-mile, 30,000-seat, stadium-style drag strip. Like the Chicagoland Speedway, it offers luxury suites to accommodate groups and corporate events.

Fans of the Great American Pastime pack the seats at newly named Joliet Route 66 Stadium every season to take in a Joliet Slammers ball game. The Slammers are a continually solid team, most recently becoming the Frontier League Champions in 2011.

Joliet Route 66 Stadium will now feature field turf, which will enable additional sports to be played as well as concerts. When the weather turns colder and football season begins, Joliet Memorial Stadium is the longtime host for youth, high school and college gridiron games.

The stadium has a capacity of 10,000 on traditional bench-style seating typical of most high school or small collegiate stadiums. Depending on the schedule, you can see contests featuring youth football organizations and the Joliet Catholic Academy High School football team.

Fans of college football can get tickets for the University of St. Francis games. Times have been good for Joliet sports fans since the early part of the decade, thanks to a growing number of professional teams and facilities.

Each of the city’s sports entertainment options offer busy seasons with plenty of opportunities at the race track, football field and baseball diamond.


Culture

Located in downtown Joliet, the scenic 10-acre park is nestled between the Des Plaines River and limestone bluffs. Running through the park is historic Bluff Street, one of Joliet’s first streets in 1832. In addition to a place of natural beauty and landmarks, the park features year-round entertainment for the community with its bandshell and indoor theater. A vision begun in the early 1970s is still going strong today, over 40 years later.

As 1976 approached, Joliet and Will County decided to leave a lasting memorial in honor of our great nation’s 200th birthday. They formed the all-volunteer, nonprofit Will-Joliet Bicentennial Park Corporation, headed by Mrs. William (“Billie”) C. Limacher. The WJBP, Inc. obtained the land, planned the cultural park, raised the funds and built the theater/ bandshell complex, still in operation today. They gave the park and building to the City of Joliet. In 2000, additions were added to the building by the nonprofit and the city renamed the park after the longtime volunteer, Billie Limacher. The WJBP, Inc. continues to raise funds for the park.

An oasis near downtown Joliet, brick pathways meander past flowerbeds surrounding historic markers, murals and statues. A self-guided tour is available anytime using the online guide (www.bicentennialpark.org/history/walk). High overviews offer an expansive view of downtown, active lift bridges and pleasure boats, which are welcome to dock on the south end.

Through the years, many events and festivals have entertained thousands of residents and visitors through the years: Battle of the Bands, Car Show, Emerging Playwrights Festival, Family Fiesta, Improv Uncorked, Independence Celebration, Leprechaun Zero K Run, Madrigal Dinner, Night At the Movies, plays and musicals, Polka Fest, Pumpkin Fest, Redneck Ravinia, Spirit of All Hallows Eve, Summertime On Stage Drama Camp and Waterway Daze. Fireworks over the water are a big draw during the Independence Celebration. Two original events are now over 40 years running: 41st Festival of the Gnomes in December and the free 43rd Concerts On The Hill every summer Thursday evening on the bandshell. A place for children to create and explore the arts, the drama camp grows each year. In 2017, over 80 children participated, many for the first time.

Providing opportunities for creativity for all ages, relaxation in a beautiful setting and preserving Joliet history, the park looks forward to sharing its treasures with the community for decades to come.

Visit www.bicentennialpark.org for more information.

Joliet City Center Partnership

The Joliet City Center Partnership, LLC was developed in the late 1980s in an effort to revitalize the downtown area and maintain existing structures that hold architectural and historical significance. Today, the partnership focuses on Downtown Joliet’s vast potential for economic and residential development.

The city center partnership strives to promote existing businesses while bringing the community together through family-friendly events such as the Light Up the Holidays Parade, Race Fan Rally, Kidzfest, Nitro Nite, Route 66 Street Markets, Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day, Blues and Brews on 66 and Salute to the Blue.

Numerous dining and entertainment options are scattered throughout the downtown ensuring that the area remains a place that residents and tourists alike can come to enjoy themselves and create everlasting memories with friends, family and business partners.


Casinos

HOLLYWOOD CASINO, AURORA AND JOLIET

Hollywood Casino, Aurora and Joliet offers Chicagoland two locations to double your luck. You will surround yourself in excitement with double the action on the hottest slots and video poker you can find. With over 2,000 video slots, reel slots and progressive slots – including the newest penny slots and some of the best of video poker around. Hollywood Casino Chicagoland features action-packed blackjack, craps, roulette and more. Enjoy double the premium and prime selections of beef to succulent seafood and an incredible selection of wine at Fairbanks Steakhouse and Final Cut Steakhouse or, enjoy an endless buffet as you dig into a never-ending parade of flavors at our Epic Buffet. Hollywood Casino offers double the variety of choices, each with its own special flair, unique flavors, and the kind of red-carpet service you deserve.

Be treated like a star at Hollywood Casino Joliet Hotel. Hollywood Casino, Joliet’s hotel offers 100 premier hotel rooms only footsteps away from the excitement of the casino. Enjoy complimentary hot breakfast daily, free Wi-Fi, business center access and fitness center access.

With double the action, it’s no surprise that Hollywood Casino Chicagoland received 18 overall wins in 2017’s Best of Gaming for Casino Player magazine. Hollywood Casino, Joliet is proud to have received six first-place wins for Best Hotel Staff, Favorite Casino Resort to Vacation at, Best Casino, Best Dealers, Best Slot Tournaments and Best Video slots.

Make Hollywood Casino, Joliet and Aurora your destinations of choice.

HARRAH’S JOLIET

When you visit Harrah’s Joliet, you’ll experience exciting gaming action, incredible amenities and non-stop fun. Located in Joliet, this riverboat property is the perfect choice for a day trip or overnight stay.

Enjoy the eclectic dishes at Harrah’s steakhouse, The Reserve or stop by the newest restaurant, the Cross Street Grill, which serves everything from burgers and sandwiches, to tacos and full entrées. Flavors the Buffet offers a wide variety of cuisine including BBQ, house-made pizza and even build your own stir-fry, plus 40 feet of desserts.

Take your luck for a spin on one of over 100 new slot machines on the casino floor. Whether you prefer traditional spinning reels, high-tech video games with elaborate bonus rounds or anything in between, Harrah’s Joliet has your favorite game.

Make the most of your night at Sheer, a scintillating bar that offers cold beer, signature cocktail and traditional drinks. After an exhilarating day on the gaming floor, treat yourself to a night of luxury in one of Harrah’s refreshing hotel rooms.

Harrah’s Joliet also hosts weddings in its full-service events center that features a 6,000-square-foot ballroom that can accommodate up to 280 guests, as well as space for those interested in a more intimate setting.

Earn and redeem credits though Harrah’s Total Rewards loyalty program. With nearly 40 resorts and casinos to visit as well as access to cruises, tropical vacations and even sporting events, Total Rewards brings you the most perks and incredible experiences.