How do you balance opposition concerns with voices of support for a major transportation project?

Canadian National (CN) sought to grow its railroad network while reducing freight congestion in and around Chicago by acquiring the Elgin, Joliet, & Eastern Railway (EJ&E). But while the region as a whole would benefit from reduced congestion enabled by the acquisition, more than 30 communities along the railway would see an uptick in freight traffic.

Parsons, the prime engineering company, called on Grisko to help CN gain community support through public involvement and public relations.

Motivating supporters. Addressing concerns.

We implemented a PR communications strategy to engage supporters of the project, forge partnerships between CN and the impacted communities along the railway and amplify the benefits of the acquisition.

Charged with stakeholder involvement, we reached out to dozens of mayors, chambers of commerce, community groups and Chicago aldermen, securing their support for the acquisition. We also set up and managed numerous meetings in the impacted suburban communities to gain insight into the communities’ concerns and help CN address them.

A unanimous decision.

Through strategic communications and public meetings, mayors and village managers reached voluntary mitigation agreements with CN, a necessary and complex step in the acquisition process. The effort culminated in the Surface Transportation Board (STB) issuing a Record of Decision approving CN’s acquisition of the EJ&E Railway.

With streamlined freight movement and reduced congestion from the acquisition, the Chicago region continues to be one of America’s most important transportation hubs, paving the way for continued job growth in Illinois.