• Posted: July 14, 2018

    Don't reinvent wheel on western access to O'Hare


    Letter to the Editor of Crain's Chicago Business


    Letter published by Crain's Chicago Business, July 13, 2018, view here.


    A June 18 Crain's Chicago Business editorial ("Better late than never at O'Hare") lauded the recent agreement between the Illinois Tollway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, clearing the way for building a western access to O'Hare. Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance and DuPage County officials share in celebrating the clearing of this final hurdle, but respectfully challenge the notion this agreement means planners must look at the entire project anew.


    Certainly, market conditions have changed since the concept of Western Access O'Hare was first discussed. However, it's important to recognize the planning and growth that have already taken place along O'Hare's western corridor.


    The project began with an addition of nearly 50 expressway lane-miles. By converting Thorndale Avenue into a limited-access, four-lane highway, it has created an extension to the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, opening the opportunity to build a bypass that connects I-90 and I-294. The new I-390 tollway that opened last fall is part of the western access effort that will eventually connect to O'Hare, creating a western access point to the airport—a project vital to our region, and especially DuPage County.


    Communities within 3 miles of western access have identified more than 30 planning areas where they are seeking to incentivize with development, or redevelopment, in the hopes of modernizing and diversifying economic sections. These plans include a downtown revitalization effort for Bensenville and Wood Dale, as well as Elk Grove industrial park modernizations.


    Since 2014, the Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance has worked with the Illinois Tollway and regional public- and private-sector leaders to establish the Western Access O'Hare Corridor as a premier global business location. According to the Elgin-O'Hare Western Bypass Advisory Council, the economic benefits of this project include the creation of 65,000 jobs by 2040; 13,450 jobs will be created annually in the region during construction. Travel delays will be reduced, saving an estimated $145 million annually by 2040, in addition to an expected increase of local tax revenues of $29 million annually.


    As our region builds the foundation for successful development along the western suburbs bordering O'Hare, DuPage County continues to thrive, maintaining the lowest unemployment rate in the Chicago area and declining industrial vacancy rates. We would like to take this opportunity to invite the public and business community stakeholders to visit and see firsthand the ongoing progress associated with western access that is creating jobs and opportunity today.


    Chairman, DuPage County Board


    President and CEO, Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance


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  • Posted: July 2, 2018

    Breakfast with the Chairman

    Carpenter, Cronin, Riekse




    Leaders in real estate and development gathered on Thursday, June 20 at a breakfast hosted by Choose DuPage and DuPage County Board Chairman, Dan Cronin for a lively discussion about how changing technology and innovation impact businesses’ office space needs. Business representatives around the table talked about the many ways DuPage County workplaces are evolving to embrace these “offices of the future.” The discussion was led by Paul O’Connor of Hamilton Partners


    “DuPage County’s real estate market has evolved tremendously in recent years,” said Chairman Cronin. “In order to continue driving economic development, we need to ensure we are meeting the needs of today’s market. Ultimately, we hope that by having collaborative discussions like this, we can develop creative solutions to remain competitive.” 


    The discussion was largely focused on: trends in office spaces and meeting the needs of today’s workforce; the competitive landscape, and how to remain an attractive market; and creative solutions to solving transportation needs.




    Diana Riekse of CBRE shared CBRE’s recent report: New Workplace Strategies for an Evolving Workforce. Key highlights of the report include:


    • 79% of businesses say space use is a top priority.
    • 86% of corporate real estate executives say that tenants are adapting the workplace for more collaboration and less cost. 
    • Today, unassigned seating makes up 51% of workplaces. In three years, it is expected to reach almost 75%.
    • Amenities are the #1 thing employees care about in their workplace. 
    • 64% of tenants are seeking amenities like hospitality and concierge services. 
    • The top amenity that employees want today (79%) are bike racks.


    Linda Sloan of Shared Use Mobility Center said, “I work in a shared workspace with many millennials. As I’ve gotten to know these younger professionals, I’ve found that they work very hard, but their whole world is different than the one I started in – a conventional office space with a hierarchy of people. Millennials are very entrepreneurial, they like flat work structures with opportunity for collaboration, and open work spaces.” 


    Ray Warner of Franklin Partners, who is re-developing the former OfficeMax headquarters in Naperville, said, “We feel that by raising the bar in the amenity class, it will give tenants an alternative asset to consider when choosing the location of their corporate headquarters. What has been missing [in this market] are the things that attract millennials and companies that are trying to re-brand their vision.”




    The group discussed the need for owners to re-invest in their buildings in order to continue attracting tenants to this market. “I think if there is one area I would creatively focus on, it is incentivizing tenants to sign longer-term leases. That can be hard, but that is what can transform an asset,” said Dan Deuter, CBRE. “When tenants are willing to make long-term commitments, the level of investment into the building is higher.”


    They agreed that nationally, there is a perception among investors that companies are moving away from the suburbs to go downtown. Dan Hession of Morgan Harbor shared an alternative perspective, “Not everyone is going downtown. We just completed the new HubGroup headquarters in Oak Brook and they wanted to stay in DuPage County. They have a long history in DuPage, and this is where their workforce is located.”


    The consensus of the group was—in order to remain an attractive market, DuPage County needs creative solutions and collaboration.






    According to CBRE’s Chicago Suburban Office Market Overview, parking ratios have become an increased sticking point within the suburban market as tenants continue to seek improved efficiency and collaboration through historically high-density levels. The higher market vacancy figures among suburban product is in part due to the lack of necessary parking to meet increased tenant demands.


    More and more, young professionals are seeking alternatives to driving to work, and the suburban office market needs to find solutions to the first-mile & last-mile commute problem. This occurs when distances between transit stations and centers of employment are too great to walk. 


    “You need to think very regionally—both within the County and outside its borders, about your network of transportation and how to fill those gaps,” said Linda Sloan. 


    John Carpenter, President & CEO of Choose DuPage said, “we need transportation solutions to be accessible and simple. This means incorporating low (or no) -tech solutions like walking, mid-tech solutions like biking, and high-tech solutions like electric vehicles.”


    Diana Riekse concluded the meeting by saying “Not only our buildings, but also our communities, need to have the amenities people want today. And the only way for this to come to fruition is through collaboration between public- and private-sector leaders.”



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  • Posted: June 5, 2018

    Tentative deal set on O'Hare western access


    Article by: Greg Hinz, Crain's Chicago Business


    See Original Article 


    After three years of bitter public feuding, the Illinois Tollway and the Canadian Pacific Railway have reached a tentative deal that finally should clear the way for long-awaited western access to O'Hare International Airport.


    The tollway board has scheduled a special board meeting for tomorrow afternoon to vote on a "letter of intent" with Canadian Pacific Railway.


    Tollway officials declined further comment in advance of the meeting. But a source close to the matter tells me that, a year and a half after the tollway sued Canadian Pacific Railway before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and the two resumed talks, a framework compromise has been reached under which the tollway's new Elgin-O'Hare Expressway will be allowed to cross over the huge Canadian Pacific Railway Bensenville rail yard just southwest of O'Hare, but at a different point than under previous designs.


    Construction on the road could begin next year, a year later than originally planned, if negotiations for a final contract to implement the tentative deal are successful. The road would run from I-90 south and west past O'Hare, eventually joining with I-294.


    It's not known how much the redesign of the southern end of the proposed expressway will cost. But some land swaps likely will be needed, so that Canadian Pacific Railway can regain some operational flexibility it would lose with a huge highway crossing over its Bensenville yard.


    The tollway a decade ago thought it had gentleman's agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway that, when it became time to build the expressway, a usage agreement would be quickly reached. But the railroad's position stiffened when it got new management, with the Canadian firm insisting it could not afford to give up any of its property.


    Since then, management has changed again and big-name Illinois politicians have become involved, including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Schaumburg.


    DuPage hopes to win an economic development windfall with western access, replicating what happened in Rosemont on O'Hare's eastern end. But while the latest O'Hare expansion plans call for development of a large entry point and parking lots on the western side of the field, development of a western terminal is not envisioned in the near future.


    Related Article: Please, no O'Hare without Western Access

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  • Posted: May 9, 2018

    Powering Business Growth: ComEd's Itasca Substation Expansion Update


    Construction has progressed at ComEd’s Itasca Substation expansion project, which is part of a long-range plan to meet an anticipated need for more power in the western O’Hare region. ComEd crews have braved cold temperatures and winter weather to keep the project on-schedule. The Itasca substation expansion project will begin supporting economic development growth in a variety of sectors in Cook and DuPage Counties starting June 1, 2018.

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  • Posted: May 1, 2018

    Chicago Blackhawks CEO Shares Perspective on Building a Winning Culture with DuPage County Business Leaders

    DuPage County Regional Business Outlook

    Approximately 700 Area Business Leaders Attend 9th Annual DuPage County Regional Outlook Event 


    Chicago Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough shared insights into leading a successful organization and building a winning culture before an audience of nearly 700 of the region's top business and civic leaders during the ninth annual DuPage County Regional Business Outlook event on May 2 at the Drury Lane Conference Center. The annual event, hosted by Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance, Mesirow Financial, and Ice Miller LLP, brings together DuPage County’s business owners and executives, government and education leaders, and other members of the local business community to learn insights about the current regional and national economic landscape, as well as to discuss best practices and growing potential in today’s economy.  


    During his dialogue with event moderator Lisa Leiter, chief content officer of the Executives’ Club of Chicago, McDonough expressed the importance of making good hiring decisions. He also highlighted the value of cultivating a strong culture of loyalty, candor, and compassion within an organization, and building a team of people who will complement and enhance the company vision. 

    DuPage County Regional Business Outlook


    “The most important executive skill and the most underrated executive skill is hiring. If you don’t hire well, I don't think you have a chance. You can have the greatest blue print for a really good course, but you have to hire the right people who complement and enhance what you have as an organization,” said McDonough.  “Consistently, there is a sense in our organization of purpose, there is a very strong sense of humility, and it’s important to be consistent about that.”


    Prior to McDonough’s remarks, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin opened the event via a video address offering a current snapshot of the positive local economic landscape in DuPage County.


    “Last year in DuPage County, we had a number of significant new projects—companies that chose to move here, or undertook significant expansion projects and topped $1 million in investment, or added 20 or more new jobs,” said Cronin.  “Just last year, more than 11,000 new jobs were created in DuPage County, bringing total employment to over 655,000. Our employment base is strong and growing.”


    Following Cronin’s opening remarks, Mark Peterson, president and CEO of Intersect Illinois, shared an update on the State of Illinois’ economic development efforts, noting Illinois ranked third in the nation for economic development projects last year while current competition for economic prosperity is fierce. Chief Global Market Strategist for Invesco, Kristina Hooper, echoed the positive forecast in her global economic outlook presentation. While highlighting infrastructure spending as the fastest return on investment to solve economic development issues, she also advised investors to be prepared for greater change going forward in three key areas including monetary policy, geopolitics, and disruption driven by technological innovation. 


    DuPage County Regional Business Outlook


    Overall, this year’s event highlighted DuPage County’s thriving business climate and reinforced the spirit of innovation and opportunities throughout the business community. Choose DuPage continues to promote the region’s diverse assets, economic strengths, and opportunities for investment in an effort to continue future economic development for the region.


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  • Posted: April 24, 2018

    Governor Recounts Investment and Business Growth Mission to Europe

    Substantial investments in Illinois are likely to follow soon


    Gov. Bruce Rauner, addressing the media to recap his 10-day investment and business growth mission to Germany and Poland, said today that he and his delegation of Illinois business leaders met with dozens of companies to discuss foreign direct investment in Illinois.


    “We talked about some really exciting opportunities that are likely to result in substantial investments in our state in the coming months,” Rauner said. “Our meetings took place at critical stages in the decision process for some of these companies and we made Illinois’ case.”


    Rauner revealed details of his mission at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA). Near the end of his trip, he made the official announcement that MPEA will host Germany’s world-renowned manufacturing trade show brand at McCormick Place co-located with the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS).


    Combined, Germany’s HANNOVER MESSE and our IMTS will attract more than 125,000 visitors and produce hundreds of millions in economic impact for Illinois, and the City of Chicago and the Chicagoland area.


    “This fall we are excited to welcome HANNOVER MESSE to McCormick Square for their first show in the United States,” said Lori T. Healey, CEO, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA). “I believe there will be in excess of 125,000 people here this year taking up every square inch of rentable space on this campus for this huge show. That’s a lot of people eating in restaurants, staying in hotels, and providing an economic boost for Chicago and the surrounding area.”


    “IMTS has further enhanced its attractiveness as a ‘must attend’ international manufacturing technology destination by partnering with HANNOVER MESSE,” says Michelle Edmonson, Senior Director – Exhibitions Operations & Marketing. “Co-locating HANNOVER MESSE USA with IMTS 2018 increases the show’s emphasis on automation, robotics and Industry 4.0, with approximately 550 additional exhibitors occupying 130,000 sq. ft. of floor space.”


    “Growth-minded visitors will attend IMTS 2018 looking for solutions that remove production bottlenecks,” says Peter R. Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions & Business Development at AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology, which produces IMTS. “For many manufacturers, simply doing more of the same thing in a larger space or adding more people isn’t a viable option. Growth requires change, and visitors view IMTS as a change agent. They come to the show knowing that they can find technologies that not just shave minutes off production cycles, but that can positively disrupt their manufacturing approach.”


    According to the governor, the mission provided an opportunity to meet with companies that already have Illinois in their sights for investment.


    “This trade mission solidified the fact that we have a tremendous opportunity to revitalize our middle class through bringing manufacturing jobs back to Illinois. To do this, however, we need to ensure a strong workforce is in place and is prepared to fill these positions with the right skillsets.  At the end of the day, the positives Illinois has to offer far outweigh the negatives,” said Illinois Manufacturers Association President and CEO Greg Baise.  “This mission highlighted the employer demand—and incredible opportunity—to develop a direct pipeline of educated students and connect them to a workforce eager to hire them.”


    The governor noted that the mission had a marketing aspect, as well. Illinois is the world’s 18th largest economy and its assets are well known to the 200+ German and Polish companies that employ more than 38,000 Illinoisans. But there are thousands more that don’t know the Illinois story.


    Intersect Illinois CEO Mark Peterson, whose organization financed most of the trip, was also encouraged by the results. “This is only the beginning of the focused efforts that Intersect Illinois will lead in the coming years. Helping the State of Illinois to recruit new companies from  around the world and attract foreign direct investment is exactly what Intersect was created for. We look forward to announcing new investment in the coming months as a direct result of this trade mission.”


    “This is an exciting time for DuPage County and the region as a whole. Working closely with the Governor’s Office, the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity and Intersect Illinois, DuPage County has expanded its global footprint with international businesses seeking to relocate, or expand operations here,” said John Carpenter, President and CEO of Choose Dupage.


    Consuls General and U.S. Ambassadors arranged for hundreds of prospective investors to hear the Illinois story.


    “Over the course of this mission we talked to companies throughout Poland and Germany looking to build and grow relationships with Illinois,” said DCEO Director Sean McCarthy. “By making these connections and selling Illinois assets abroad we can bring a lot of foreign direct investment to Illinois.”


    “We met with business and education leaders in two of Europe’s most compelling economies,” Rauner said. “Germany is a mainstay in world commerce and is a $3.4 billion customer for Illinois businesses. Poland is a rising economic star that has parlayed fiscal discipline into more than 25 consecutive years of economic growth. We look forward to seeing where these friendships lead.”


    Video of the event is posted here.


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