2014 Year in Review

Written by Greg Bedalov, President & CEO of Choose DuPage 2014 marked a banner year in economic development – not only for DuPage County, but also for the region as a whole. Economic development organizations throughout Northeastern Illinois are realizing that regionalism is the future. I’ve always said a rising tide floats all boats, and I’m honored to work with scores of professionals from all over Illinois who know that to be true as well. So as our year comes to a close, it’s an appropriate time to reflect back on our many successes.

Economic Development Scorecard

DuPage County Projects

In 2014, 102 total projects took place in DuPage County. Projects criteria is $1 million investment, 20,000 SF, or 50 jobs. This places DuPage as 3rd in the region in terms of total projects, and represents 7 million square feet of development and $541 million invested into our communities.   Last year Choose DuPage released a Comprehensive Cluster study, outlining industries with growth and opportunity potential, as well as identifying maturing clusters. We were regret to report that the backbone of the Midwest – manufacturing – was a maturing cluster. Determined to develop this evolving industry into an emerging cluster once again, Choose DuPage along with the County supported several initiatives to do so, including the launch of Rev3 Innovation Center, a digital manufacturing incubator in Naperville. We are pleased to report at the top of our scorecard, that manufacturing represented more projects in DuPage County than any other industry in 2014.

Projects by Industry:

33     Manufacturing 18     Wholesale 14     Transportation & Warehousing 14     Retail 7       Healthcare & Social Assistance 4       Finance, Insurance, Real Estate

Choose DuPage Projects

Choose DuPage was directly involved in, and ushered across the finish line, several projects during 2014. Combined, this ultimately represents 1,500 jobs, 1,168,000 square feet of development, and $120 million in invested dollars. This include:
  • SKF, a worldwide manufacturer of ball and roller bearings broke ground on a location in Naperville at Warrenville Road and Freedom Drive. 131,000 SF 80 jobs
  • Universal Technical Institute, a vocational auto repair school opened a campus in Lisle at 2611 Corporate West Drive. 185,000 SF 100 jobs 
  • Grundfos USA, a worldwide supplier of pump solutions opened a facility at 2001 Butterfield Road, in Downers Grove. 11,000 SF 100+ jobs
  • Orbus Exhibit & Display Group, which manufacturers and supplies trade show displays and exhibits consolidated their facilities into 9003 Murphy Drive in Woodridge. 348,000 SF 300 jobs
  • Kellogg Co has started construction on a distribution and warehousing center at Union Pointe Business Park in Woodridge. 266,000 SF 100 Jobs
  • Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, moved their natural grocer chain headquarters to Crossroads III, in Downers Grove. 40,000 SF 100 jobs
  • Flexera Software a company that delivers next-generation software licensing, compliance and installation moved into 300 Park Boulevard in Itasca. 77,000 SF 300 jobs
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, national text publisher moved from their offices in Schaumburg to 1 Pierce Place in Itasca. 110,000 SF 340 jobs

Economic Indicators

Each quarter, Choose DuPage reports on economic indicators for the region including sales tax, unemployment rates, and industrial and office vacancy rates. Watch the video below to learn about these indicators for the third quarter of 2014, and how DuPage County measures against the greater Metro-Chicago region.

Economic Development Initiatives

This year, with collaboration and regionalism as our theme, Choose DuPage worked together with counties across Illinois on several important economic development initiatives.

Investing In Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP)

The U.S. Department of Commerce formed this partnership as part of a federal effort to support job creation and accelerate manufacturing growth. 70 communities nationwide applied for the IMCP designation, and DuPage County was selected, as one of 12 “manufacturing communities”. Having an IMCP designation provides access to $1.3 billion in federal grants as well as support from federal agencies on long-term economic development strategies to attract and expand private investment in the manufacturing sector, as well as increase international trade and exports. Just recently, a major development project in DuPage County has benefited from the IMCP designation that will ultimately go towards the creation jobs and attract more manufacturing into our region.

Chicago Metro Metals Consortium

From the IMCP designation, the Chicago Metro Metals Consortium (CMMC) was formed among seven counties in Northeastern Illinois. CMMC has set forth six strategies for growing the region’s metal manufacturing sector:
  • Workforce and training
  • Supplier network
  • Research and innovation
  • Infrastructure and site development
  • Trade and international investment
  • Operational improvement and capital access

Metro-Chicago Exports

Metro Chicago Exports represents an unprecedented collaboration between the seven counties of Northeastern Illinois to increase exports from small and midsized firms. With an idea that export activity fosters innovation and supports regional jobs, Metro Chicago Exports will:
  • Build a pipeline of export ready firms
  • Provide concierge services to firms seeking to capture global opportunities
  • Connect firms to international partners and local peer networks
  • Reduce the initial business costs to reach new markets

Streamlined Truck Permitting

At an annual Regional Economic Development Summit, comprised of the seven counties across Northeastern Illinois, the lack of a centralized and uniform system for over weight/over sized truck permits was recognized as an opportunity for regional collaboration. The Chicago Regional Truck Permitting Plan will investigate the establishment of ways to streamline the multiple truck permit systems that are currently in place in Northeastern Illinois. Leaders in the trucking industry have suggested that an improved system is necessary to make goods movement easier in the region, reduce the cost of doing business, and enable growth of freight and related sectors.

Career Connect Metro West

Career Connect Metro West was established to connect unemployed and underemployed people to quality living-wage jobs in western Cook, DuPage and the Fox River towns of Kane and Kendall Counties. Their first effort will be to target the mid-skills job gap in the local manufacturing sector. Over the next ten years, DuPage County manufacturers will need to replace 9,000 retiring employees. The need for this initiative is both urgent and important.

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

Choose DuPage will collaborate with all of Northeastern Illinois to integrate our individual economic development strategies into one comprehensive strategy for the region. Developing the region will continue to benefit the county, and we must work together on a common strategy.

Regional Marketing Plan

While Choose DuPage has a robust integrated marketing plan, we will work with Northeastern Illinois on a common plan to target site selectors, the real estate community, and business executives, while highlighting the region as a whole. The impact of working together will only propel the existing Choose DuPage marketing plan.

Foreign Direct Investment Initiative

In 2012 World Business Chicago released, A Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, outlining strategies to create a more dynamic business climate. The plan called for regional collaboration on Foreign Direct Investment, and today Northeastern Illinois is committed to developing and implementing a comprehensive Foreign Direct Investment strategy that will focus on two complementary areas, outlined in World Business Chicago’s plan, below. Purse existing sources:
  • Work with foreign-owned companies already in the region.
  • Reach out to foreign-owned companies with U.S. locations.
  • Develop clusters in high-growth sectors.
  • Focus on high-potential sources by country and industry.
Target long-term, high-potential sources:
  • Strengthen and expand relationships with China.
  • Monitor global trends for new opportunities with emerging nations.
The future is bright for economic development in DuPage County, and Choose DuPage remains committed to establishing our County and region as a premier global business location. For more information about Choose DuPage, visit our website or call Greg Bedalov at (630) 955-2089.