Letter to Crain’s Chicago Business Editor: Invest in R&D

Written by: John A. Carpenter, President & CEO | Choose DuPage  Recent headlines don’t boast many positives when it comes to our state’s rising unemployment rate, now at 6.4 percent (“Illinois unemployment rises slightly,” March 24). Yet in comparison, DuPage County has remained a hub of economic activity and maintains one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.


So what is DuPage County doing so differently versus the state of Illinois?


Due to our insight at the Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance, we have continuously advocated on behalf of innovative industries. In contrast, the state is limiting itself by pushing pro-innovation reforms to the wayside. Illinois has failed at protecting R&D industries by allowing the tax credit to renew and expire four times over the last 13 years, and currently we are one of the only states without the credit in place. Choose DuPage, along with the Advance Illinois Manufacturing Coalition, stands ready to work with lawmakers to support a modern and permanent R&D tax credit, because it would be a shot in the arm to our ailing state economy. Innovation can be the key to Illinois’ economic growth, and I encourage legislators to support a permanent R&D tax credit as the means to do that. View on Crain’s Website

DuPage Business Leaders Head to Springfield

Earlier this month, 25 DuPage business leaders and delegates took a full day away from their business to visit with legislators in Springfield. Choose DuPage, along with Chamber630, Bolingbrook, Elmhurst, West Suburban and Western DuPage Chambers, visited with several elected officials, attended committee meetings at the Capitol and Stratton Building and ended the evening hosting a crowded legislative reception allowing attendees to further their relationships with those that make so many important decisions that affect their bottom line. 


The focus of the trip was budget, education funding and independent maps. We also addressed a proposal for the Employee Paid Health Care Time Act; Workers Compensation, specifically causation, and an unfunded mandate of public/private entities. The delegation of DuPage business leaders was provided legislative briefings by Illinois Chamber president, Todd Maisch and lobbyist, Elizabeth Van Holt of Isaiah Consulting at a luncheon sponsored by AT&T. Van Holt covered education funding and consolidation for institutions of higher education as well as the proposal for School Funding Reform Act, SB1. She also reviewed the history and logistics of the Independent Map Amendment.

Maisch spoke to workers’ compensation which continues to be a critical concern for employers as does any increase of the minimum wage, especially without meaningful business reforms. Transportation funding and various proposals for its revenue sources was discussed, as well as a bill mandating accrued paid sick leave. The delegation brought all these topics over to the Capitol while visiting with several elected officials including Governor Bruce Rauner, Senator Tom Cullerton (D23rd), Representative Grant Wehrli and others. Sponsors of the trip, Choose DuPage, AT&T, Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation and Midwestern University welcomed over 100 guests at the reception including those mentioned earlier and Representatives Steven Andersson (R65th), Ron Sandack (R81st), Patti Bellock (R47th), Peter Breen (R48th), Michael Connelly (R21st), Mike Fortner (R49th), Mark Batinick (R97th), Lawrence Walsh, Jr. (D86th), Jeanne Ives (R42nd), Emily McAsey (D85th), Michael Zalewski (D23rd) and many others.

Debunking the Myths of Suburban Office Leasing

Originally published by: Chuck Sudo, Bisnow Chicago | View Article While it’s true more companies are flirting with downtown moves to court and attract a younger workforce, a read past the headlines indicates the suburbs are more than holding their own—in fact, many suburban markets are thriving.


A recent report from JLL separates fact from fiction in suburban office markets. JLL research director Christian Beaudoin and SVP Todd Schaefer (pictured with JLL managing director Sean Reynolds, right) say this report serves as a reminder of the stability found in the suburbs. Let’s take a look at some of the myths they debunk.


Myth No. 1: All Millennials Want to Live in the City


Fact: A JLL/Choose DuPage survey found that 48% of Millennials working in DuPage preferred working in the suburbs. What these younger workers do have a problem with is commuting to work. The survey also determined that 53% of respondents wanted alternatives to driving to work, and 46% of Millennials are commuting more than 45 minutes to their jobs. Christian says office landlords are exploring options such as shuttle services to Metra stations, but that this becomes harder to subsidize the farther out of the urban core workers travel.


Myth No. 2: Companies Moving Downtown Shun the Suburbs Completely


Fact: Of the 22 suburban companies whose moves to the CBD made headlines last year, 77% of them also opened or maintained a suburban presence. Todd says the main reason for this dual-location strategy is not only to attract and retain Millennial talent, but to be closer to potential clients. Christian adds another advantage is to provide options for workers in different job functions. While a downtown office presence may be right for sales, tech or creative positions, a suburban office (where rents and labor costs are lower) can be appropriate for call centers and back office operations.

Myth No. 3: Suburban Office Markets Have Been Slow Over the Past Four Years


Fact: Aon, Zurich and Zebra Technologies have accounted for three of the four largest lease transactions in the suburbs, and companies committing to leases over 50k SF the past four years accounted for more than 13M SF of transactions. Growing companies see value in these markets as destinations for their businesses, which Todd says is a testament to the suburbs.


Myth No. 4: The CBD Presents Better Opportunities for Tenants and Investors


Fact: The city and suburbs benefit equally from easy access to O’Hare and Midway International Airports, growing tourism numbers, and Chicago’s position as a logistics hub. Christian says tenants and investors don’t have to subscribe to an either-or scenario and that working together, both Chicago and the suburbs provide excellent opportunities for companies and employees.  

Local Exports Drive Growth in DuPage County

DuPage County is a great place to build and grow a business, but as many of our local companies know, more than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located outside the U.S., and international markets offer great potential for growth and expansion. More than 22,000 companies exported from Illinois in 2013, including many with fewer than 500 employees. These businesses have not only grown their bottom lines, but have also created jobs here in DuPage County by reaching untapped markets abroad.


Continue reading

Economic Report Finds Business Climate Thriving in DuPage County

Report showcases DuPage as the premier business location with the lowest unemployment in the region


The 2015 Annual Economic Indicators Report confirms DuPage County as a thriving business climate due to its low unemployment, skilled workforce, high quality of life and growing business sector. The report reinforces DuPage County’s attractiveness for job creators and entrepreneurs at a time when the state and communities like Chicago struggle with high taxes, pension challenges and a hostile business climate. The report was compiled from Choose DuPage member data and professional economic data provider EMSI.


2015 Annual Economic Indicators Report Highlights:

  • DuPage County has the lowest unemployment rate at 4.5% in the Chicagoland region, and far below the state at 6.4%
  • DuPage County sales tax receipts have increased by 5.5% reaffirming a strong and welcoming business climate
  • DuPage County‘s largest and fastest growing industries include healthcare, retail, scientific and manufacturing
  • Suburban office leases are priced 66% lower per square foot than Chicago’s Central Business District, helping to drive DuPage’s lowest industrial vacancy in the region of 5%


“The families and businesses of DuPage County are thriving as local commerce and business development continues to flourish,” said John Carpenter, president and CEO of Choose DuPage. “Driven by our skilled workforce, high quality-of-life and premier location, new businesses have made DuPage their home and local industries continue to expand and grow their footprint. This report highlights DuPage County as a premier business location during a time when the state of Illinois is lagging.” At the time of the report, DuPage County’s unemployment rate was the lowest in the region and among the lowest in the state at just 4.5%, while the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) showed the City of Chicago was far higher at 6 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently ranks Illinois as one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States at 6.4 percent. In addition to these economic impact report findings, DuPage County was recently named Illinois’ Healthiest County by a study published in collaboration by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The study surveyed overall health outcomes, social and economic factors, as well as physical environment including education, crime and employment.