DeKalb County might classify as ‘collar county’

By Bryan Malenius

The executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation said DeKalb County may be classified as one of Chicago’s “collar counties” by year’s end.

Roger Hopkins, the corporation’s executive director, said the decision by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget is a statistical one.

“We estimate that by now almost 20 percent of DeKalb County workers commute to work,” Hopkins said. “A collar county is any county that joins an existing metropolitan community with more than 15 percent of its residents commuting to the larger metropolitan area.”

Hopkins said the benefits associated with collar-county status are more than just recognition.

“Being a collar county includes us as part of a larger market. We could start seeing collar-county status bringing DeKalb County more retail sites,” he said.

Hopkins said the increase in population over the last four years has played a big part in commuter growth.

“We actually saw the population drop until 1986. But according to the 1990 census, we have another four or five thousand people than we did in 1986,” he said.

“We’ve seen growth in many areas of the county. The median value of a home has jumped significantly over the last four years.”

The possibility that DeKalb County may be eligible for more state and federal money is also very real, Hopkins said.

“A number of federal agency departments use it when they determine entitlement funds,” he said.

Hopkins said the new designation would dilute the pot of federal money even further.