Expansion Manufacturing

PREMIER Breaks Ground on Expansion to Midwest Manufacturing Facility for Sumitomo Drive Technologies

PREMIER Design + Build Group has just broken ground on a building expansion project for Sumitomo Drive Technologies in Glendale Heights, Ill. The work is designed to meet the evolving needs of the client, whose Midwest-manufactured products are in high demand from customers across a range of industries.

The company’s Glendale Heights location is used for light manufacturing of gearmotors, also known as “speed reducers.” Gearmotors are designed to regulate the speed at which motors run to match the speed needed for a customer’s application. The gearmotors produced by Sumitomo Drive Technologies are used in many industries including auto assembly, grain handling, water treatment, wood milling, and parcel handling. Sumitomo Drive Technologies is part of Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd.

The manufacturer’s need to scale up its production capabilities is an interesting outgrowth of its long-term strategy. Prior to 2020, Sumitomo Drive Technologies made a commitment to investing in manufacturing within the United States. In the face of the challenges of the past several years, many of the company’s competitors were forced to shut down or severely reduce operations at overseas production facilities. Sumitomo Drive Technologies, however, was able to continue production in the Midwest, and demand for its products grew significantly.

Sumitomo Drive Technologies selected PREMIER to manage design + build services for the expansion of its existing facility, which is located at 175 W. Lake Drive within the Glendale Lakes Business Park. When complete, the building will have approximately 82,000 square feet with a 28’ clear height. In addition to more than doubling the existing footprint, PREMIER’s team will create a state-of-the art, fully modular crane building allowing seamless integration between assembly and distribution. The work includes installing new docks and doors, adding on-site parking, and updating landscaping. The building improvements will allow the firm to increase inventory space and offer a broader product line from its Midwest location. It will also improve lead times, operational efficiencies, and safety.

“We’re honored to have been chosen as the design-builder for this Sumitomo Drive Technologies assignment,” explained PREMIER’s Michael Long, Senior Vice President in the firm’s Midwest division. “They approached us with an interesting challenge, and we used our expertise to develop a solution designed to help them accomplish every one of the objectives they have established.” Working with Mr. Long on the assignment is Project Manager Stefan Olson. PREMIER’s project partners include Cornerstone Architects Ltd. for architectural design and SpaceCo for civil engineering.

“Michael Long and the PREMIER team have already proven themselves to be such an incredible asset,” according to Eduardo Plata, Corporate Project Manager for Sumitomo Machinery Corporation of America. “We’re so thankful to have found a project partner that is so knowledgeable and will guide us through this process and always look out for our best interests.”

“Reimagining and reshaping facilities to meet our clients’ evolving needs is the kind of challenge the team at PREMIER loves to take on,” said Long. “This is a client that was uniquely positioned to grow their business, and we’re excited to help them create a new home in which to continue that success.”

The project kicked off late last week with a groundbreaking, which included local officials and several Sumitomo Drive Technologies executives who traveled to Illinois from Japan to participate in the celebration. As part of the kickoff, Sumitomo Drive Technologies and PREMIER presented the nearby Glen Ellyn Food Pantry with a $5,000 donation to help fund its work across DuPage County.

About PREMIER Design + Build Group

PREMIER Design + Build Group is a leading design-build construction firm headquartered in Buffalo Grove, Ill. With a strong track record spanning several decades, PREMIER specializes in providing comprehensive solutions for industrial, commercial, healthcare, residential, retail, and mixed-use construction projects. The company’s unwavering commitment to quality, innovation, and customer service has earned it a reputation as a trusted partner in the industry.

About Sumitomo Drive Technologies

Sumitomo Drive Technologies is a brand of Sumitomo Machinery Corporation of America, one of the most respected names in the power transmission industry. As an industrial manufacturer of premium quality gearboxes, motors, and controls, we operate two prominent facilities – our Headquarters in Chesapeake, VA, and the Large Industrial Gear Unit Manufacturing and Assembly Facility in Verona. Our commitment to innovation, customer satisfaction, and comprehensive solutions makes us an industry leader in power transmission.

Chicagoland Economic Landscape

Chicagoland’s Economic Landscape

A detailed report on the region’s assets, opportunities, and growth areas.

Together, we’re Greater. Choose DuPage has teamed up with World Business Chicago and six other regional county partners to bring to you the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership Asset Report. This report is a testament to the collective efforts of partners, stakeholders, and visionaries who believe in the transformative power of regional collaboration known as the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership. The report offers in-depth insights and showcases the myriad of assets that make the Chicagoland region a global hub for business. 

What makes Greater Chicagoland a Greater place to do business?

According to the new report, it’s our:

  • Size: Chicagoland is the nation’s third largest economy, with $835B in annual productivity and more than 4.9 million workers.  
  • Diversity: With a wide breadth of industries, from manufacturing and technology to logistics and more, Chicagoland offers the most diverse economy in the U.S.
  • Industry: We’re home to the most diverse manufacturing ecosystem in the U.S., positioning our region for innovation while attracting investment and talent.
  • Innovation: In Chicagoland, our diverse blend of startups, established industries, and research institutions collaborate to push industries forward.
  • Resilience: With a diverse economy, supportive social systems, and a strategic environmental policy, Chicagoland is ready to adapt to changing conditions and lead the world of tomorrow.
  • Cost: Here, you can do more with less. Our region has more affordable real estate and cost of living compared to similarly sized, globally connected metro areas.

For a deeper understanding of the GCEP and its mission, visit www.worldbusinesschicago.com/gcep.

For more information about doing business in DuPage County, Illinois, visit: https://www.choosedupage.com/ready/ or contact Choose DuPage today.

Smartest, Sleekest, and Healthiest Workplaces: 2023 Office

The Smartest, Sleekest & Healthiest Workplaces in DuPage: 2023

The world gets pretty complicated, so when it comes to 2023’s Smartest, Sleekest & Healthiest Workplaces, we’re keeping things simple.

This year, we’re featuring workplaces in DuPage County that are designed, above all, for workers.

Why? Because a thoughtfully designed workplace is more than just a place to work. The right workplace can:

  • Motivate employees to be more productive.
  • Provide flexible spaces to account for varying workday needs.
  • Entice hybrid and remote workers to come into the office.
  • Help companies attract talent in a competitive market.

As always, we only featured the best of the best. Each workplace here is among the Smartest, Sleekest & Healthiest in DuPage County. Above all, these spaces are designed for the employee experience—they work harder, so you can work smarter.

Ready? Let’s get to work!

Ag Growth International (AGI)

Naperville, IL | Farm & Commercial Equipment Solutions 

Ag Growth International (AGI)

Housed in The Shuman (a Class-A office building in Naperville we featured in 2022) AGI’s 45,000-SF U.S. headquarters features a sleek modern design.

But wait—there’s a twist. Among the polished glass and trendy furniture, you’ll find vases of dried wheat, fields of green, corrugated metal a la grain silos, and images of corn about as high as an elephant’s eye.

Beyond the silos and soybeans, what makes this office distinctly “AGI” is its adaptability.

Since 1996, AGI has continuously evolved to keep up with the ever-changing agricultural landscape. Likewise, their Naperville office is designed to keep up with employees’ ever-changing workday needs.

Quick brainstorm? Grab a booth. Need to focus? There’s a space for that. Celebrating a birthday? Get together at the social hub—and maybe grab an espresso or sparkling water on the way.

As a workplace that puts the employee experience first, AGI’s Naperville headquarters is the cream of the crop.

About AGI

Founded in 1996, AGI is the global leader in the planning, engineering and manufacturing of solutions and systems for five key sectors: fertilizer, seed, grain, feed, and food. Today, AGI produces more than 35 brands and partners with customers on six continents.


Naperville, IL | Engineering Consultants

IMEG Office

Another company that understands the value of employee experiences (and happens to be a fellow Shuman tenant) is IMEG.

Located on the fifth floor of the Class-A Naperville office building, IMEG’s 20,000-SF office has everything you’d expect from a world-class engineering firm: thoughtfully designed workspaces for collaborative and individual work, an industrial-chic vibe with playful pops of color, and the occasional engineering-themed art piece (including a framed patent of that all-important industry tool, the protractor).  What makes this space truly unique is what’s not there. IMEG went with a clean, no-frills design. With few exceptions, the floors are exposed, polished concrete. And the ceilings? What ceilings? Look up, and you’ll see a network of exposed pipes, valves, and ducts.  

In part, this industrial aesthetic is a nod to the company and its team members—engineers, after all, love taking things apart to see how they work. But it also aligns with IMEG’s sustainability goals. Less materials, more purpose.

While the office’s design is minimalist, its views are anything but. A glass-enclosed conference room near the fifth-floor entrance offers a spectacular view of The Shuman’s Main Atrium—making it the perfect place to get clients thinking about the “big picture.” The lunchroom, meanwhile, features 40-foot-high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a gorgeous view of Naperville, including the iconic Carillon.

IMEG is all about “people-centered engineering”—the idea that spaces should be designed for the people who use them. That philosophy has served the company well over its hundred-year corporate history, and if you want to see it come to life, we recommend a trip to The Shuman.

About IMEG

As a leading design firm, IMEG delivers a powerful combination of comprehensive technical expertise and deep collaborative partnerships. Their trusted engineers design high-performance buildings and industry-leading infrastructure – everything from wastewater treatment plants to surgical suites – all while expertly navigating regulatory and teaming challenges. Today, IMEG has more than 2,200 team members across 75 locations.

Contractor: JC Anderson

Architect: G|R|E|C  

Leeco Steel

Lisle, IL | Steel Processing & Distribution

Leeco Steel Office

Given that they’ve been working with metal for 140 years, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Leeco Steel is a bit rigid. But before you make any assumptions, you should see their newly renovated Lisle headquarters.

Like many businesses in the post-pandemic world, Leeco Steel was working hard to get employees excited about returning to the office. The company had already built a forward-thinking, people-first culture, but there was one thing holding them back: the office itself. In 2022, they set out to change that.

Fast-forward to 2023, and Leeco has transformed a potential pain point into one of their best assets.

Their newly renovated, 19,119-SF Lisle headquarters provides the flexibility today’s top workers demand. Collaborative workspaces and private focus rooms make it easy to work how you want, where you want, while open seating areas are the perfect places to chat and blow off steam. Meanwhile, state-of-the-art technology facilitates smoother video conferences and presentations with clients and offsite team members.

Here, the sparks fly. No, really—large-format pictures from Leeco Steel’s processing centers show how the metal is cut for customers. For team members, these serve as a good reminder of their work’s tangible impact.

At the same time, with big windows and bright pops of color, this modern office feels less like a factory and more like a creative workshop, a space where good ideas are made and bonds are forged. Strong as steel, of course.

About Leeco Steel

Leeco Steel is North America’s largest steel plate supplier. Founded in 1882, the company is well-known for its deep inventories of steel plate, which it processes and distributes from 10 locations. Leeco also provides processing services, including flame cutting, drilling, and shot blasting.

Architecture & Design Firm: Wight & Company

Photo Credit: Ross Creative Works


Oak Brook, IL | Accounting

BDO Offices Oak Brook

When it comes to work, boundaries are usually a good thing. At the same time, some of the best workplaces are the ones that blur the lines between the office itself and the environment around it. Especially when that environment is really, really beautiful.

Case in point: BDO’s Oak Brook headquarters.

Located in Oak Brook Reserve on the former McDonald’s campus, BDO’s 25,000-SF office blurs those lines in the best way.

Floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the lakes, fields, and tree-lined walkways just beyond the former Hamburger University building. Meanwhile, natural materials like wood tambour panels, National Park-themed conference rooms, and other subtle touches bring the outside world in.

The result? Team members and clients never feel far from nature.

Speaking of nature, employees at the office are free to work in whatever way feels most natural to them. Like many of the workplaces featured here, BDO’s Oak Brook office is designed for maximum flexibility, with a variety of working environments for collaboration and focused tasks.

Nowhere is this approach more prominent than the café. While most businesses would be satisfied with a nice lunchroom, BDO wanted to do more with their space. Now, they have a single room that can easily transform from a café to an employee training center, or even an auditorium-style setup for events and presentations.

As the inaugural prominent occupant of Oak Brook Reserve, BDO’s new office is a showcase for the sprawling suburban campus. Gensler, the architecture firm that designed the original McDonald’s headquarters in 1988, took point on the BDO design. Together, Gensler and their first major tenant are reusing and revitalizing the iconic Oak Brook space, welcoming others to bring nature into their workdays—and vice versa.

We’d say they’re off to a beautiful start.

About BDO

BDO is a leading global accounting network headquartered in Chicago. Their experienced professionals provide middle-market leaders with insight-driven perspectives, as well as assurance, tax, and advisory services.

Architecture & Design: Gensler

Engineering: Cartland Kraus Engineering, Ltd.

General Contractor: Norcon Inc.

Furniture Solutions: Corporate Concepts

West Side Tractor

Lisle, IL | John Deere Parts Supply, Repair & Customer Service

West Side Tractor Lisle

Arriving at West Side Tractor’s Lisle headquarters, you can’t help but notice all the “toys.”  

The facility, which opened in 2020, features a glass-enclosed “toy box,” a towering showroom housing ten (literal) giants of the tractor world. These include the 1920 Waterloo Boy, John Deere’s first foray into the tractor world, as well as a 1959 Model 440 Loader Backhoe – one of the first machines that West Side Tractor founder Richard W. Benck sold. (Look closely at the Model 440, and you’ll even find a decal from the family-owned business’ original Lisle facility.)

History is front and center at the new West Side Tractor headquarters, but with cutting-edge customer and employee experiences around every corner, it very much feels like a workplace of the future.

For customers, there’s an accessible parts counter, an interactive lobby kiosk, and a curbside pickup zone, all of which make it easy to get in, get out, and get on with your day. For those looking to take a deeper dive, there’s the state-of-the-art training area. Here, West Side team members can deliver custom presentations, like machine walk-arounds and safety courses.

For employees, it’s all about having what you need, when you need it. Each of the 16 bays in the servicing and repair shop features a tool bench and ergonomic workstation, complete with a laptop technicians can use to run diagnostics and access records.

Collaborative spaces throughout the facility encourage teamwork and creativity, while large touchscreens in the service manager office make it easy to access helpful information, including a digital map showing the real-time locations of service vehicles. Finally, the attention to accessibility extends to the female technician locker room, which features a nursing room.

“This is a place where we can innovate and grow, add new products, and expand our team,” says Lauren Coffaro, third-generation owner. “This new Lisle facility, this is for the future,”

Want to see the future of West Side Tractor for yourself? Take a tour of their Lisle headquarters here.

About West Side Tractor

Founded in 1962, West Side Tractor is the John Deere construction heavy equipment distributor for Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Family-owned and operated for more than 60 years, West Side Tractor provides sales, service, rental, parts, and technology solutions to construction companies across the Midwest.

Architecture & Design

Barnes Architects

Rieke Interiors

Greenleaf Foods, SPC

Lisle | Plant-Based Food

Greenleaf Foods Lisle

For office workers everywhere, lunch is serious business. Beyond the necessity of replacing burned-up mental calories, the midday meal is a chance to talk turkey with coworkers, get some fresh air, and divide the day into manageable, bite-sized pieces.

But nowhere is lunch – and food, in general – more serious than in the kitchen of Lisle’s Greenleaf Foods Innovation Center.

This is no ordinary office kitchen, mind you. This is the Greenleaf Test Kitchen, a Dexter’s Laboratory of culinary creation. Here, among the high-end ovens, stovetops, fryers, and presses, the pioneers of the #1 meatless hotdog are cooking up their next ingenious invention.

Greenleaf Foods, SPC (which we previously featured) makes some of the world’s most popular plant-based protein brands, including Lightlife® and Field Roast Grain Meat Co. Of course, in a competitive market, where new products hit the shelves every day, Greenleaf can’t afford to rest on its lettuce (we mean ‘laurels’).

That’s where the Innovation Center comes in. Expanded in 2020, Greenleaf’s high-tech, 23,000-SF facility has all the right ingredients for creativity and collaboration. A variety of social spaces, brainstorm rooms, conference rooms, and focus areas give team members the flexibility they need to do their best work. Meanwhile, the office’s cutting-edge laboratory, pilot plant, and test kitchen provide spaces where fresh ideas can grow from scratch.

About Greenleaf Foods, SPC

Plant-based pioneer Greenleaf Foods, SPC produces some of the most popular meatless foods on the market. Their portfolio includes Lightlife®, maker of the #1 brand of tempeh and the #1 plant-based hot dog in the U.S., as well as Field Roast Grain Meat Co.

Project Manager & General Contractor

RE Development Solutions

Conference Center at Hamilton Lakes

Itasca | Event Space

Hamilton Lakes Conference Center Office

If you’ve ever planned an event, you know that finding the perfect space can feel next to impossible.

Unless, that is, you’re at Hamilton Lakes Business Center in Itasca, in which case the event space of your dreams is just a quick elevator ride away.

Offering 8,400-SF of flexible space, the Conference Center at Hamilton Lakes is designed for gatherings of up to 200 people. Whether it’s a big client meeting or an informal brainstorm, an employee education seminar or a networking event, the Conference Center has everything you need to make it amazing.

Here, flexibility is king. The four main rooms can be configured in a variety of arrangements, while state-of-the-art technology ensures a smooth experience for you and your guests.

Most importantly, the Conference Center is simply cool. Abundant natural light, pops of color, and a sleek modern design create a vibe somewhere between energetic startup, high-end office, and your favorite coffee shop. Meanwhile, the sheer variety of workspaces – from cozy nooks and collaboration-friendly corners to large conference rooms – make it easy for guests to find their ideal space, even as their needs shift throughout the day.

Whether you’re entertaining clients in the kitchen or soaking up the lakeside views, the Conference Center at Hamilton Lakes is a place where you can feel creative, focused, collaborative, and free to be you.

Book Now

The Conference Center at Hamilton Lakes is currently available for full-day and half-day rentals, with discounted pricing for tenants. Contact Hamilton Lakes to learn more.

About Hamilton Lakes

Located at the intersection of the Elgin O’Hare Expressway and I-355 in Itasca, Hamilton Lakes Business Park offers 3.5 million square feet of office space and 32 additional acres of undeveloped land. The Business Park is also home to the Westin Hotel, beautiful outdoor areas, social gathering spaces, an athletic club, a daycare center, and full-service restaurants and delicatessens.

2200 Cabot

Lisle | Office Space

2200 Cabot Drive Lisle Office

If 2200 Cabot Drive feels like a fresh twist on a classic office design, it’s because that’s exactly what it is.

Even before its recent renovation, this iconic five-story glass-and-granite building had “good bones.” Located in Lisle’s 64-acre Corporate Lakes development, 2200 Cabot already had a convenient location, ample parking (including heated underground executive spaces), and a stunning two-story atrium. What more could you ask for? 

Quite a lot, apparently. In 2020, RE Development Solutions gave the building a full renovation, modernizing its design and introducing several new amenities to enhance workday experiences.

This was no mere facelift. The renovation included a full lobby refresh – it now feels like the grand entrance of a boutique downtown hotel – as well as the addition of a full-service deli, a building conference room, and a penthouse lounge space with panoramic views of nature.

Somewhat less dramatic (but no less important) are the infrastructure upgrades, including a new roof, HVAC automation, and more.

With good bones and a sharp new design, the newly renovated 2200 Cabot has everything tenants need to deliver outstanding employee experiences—and we can’t wait to see what they do with the place.

Learn more about 2200 Cabot here.

Project Manager & General Contractor

RE Development Solutions


Desa Design Studio

3500 Lacey

Downers Grove | Office Space

3500 Lacey Downers Grove Office

The day’s winding down (and so is our list). Before heading home, you grab a quick bite at your favorite wine bar, chat with a colleague, listen to some live music, then swing by the local library.

And if you’re a tenant at 3500 Lacey, you can do all this without leaving the office.

The largest building in Downers Grove, 3500 Lacey was built in the late 1980s and acquired by KORE Investments in 2019. KORE, which has offices in Chicagoland and the Denver area, specializes in workplaces centered on health, wellness, and community.

After acquiring “Lacey,” they knew they wanted to incorporate new features that would bring their tenants and guests together like never before, while encouraging remote workers to return to the office.

In 2022, they set out to do just that. KORE transformed the lobby of 3500 Lacey into an inviting social space, complete with comfortable furniture, a stylish lighting fixture, and a piano for live music. The centerpiece of this renovated space is the Coffee/Wine Bar, 3500 Lacey Spirits. Here, guests can relax with a midmorning latte, a lunchtime snack, or an after-hours glass of wine.

KORE also introduced a cozy library and fitness center, as well as the new 3500 Lacey App. Using the app, tenants can easily order coffee, breakfast, and lunch, and stay up to date on what’s happening in the Lacey community.

“Just another day in the office” has never felt better.

About KORE Investments

KORE Investments is a commercial real estate owner/operator of office properties in Chicago and Denver, with an emphasis on suburban developments. KORE focuses first and foremost on the experiences of their tenants and the people who work in their buildings, delivering flexible spaces that activate communities, promote healthy lifestyles, and foster positive workplace cultures. Today, the company donates a portion of their profits to local charities and nonprofits.

Take a tour of 3500 Lacey here.


OKW Architects

General Contractor


Keep Exploring the Offices and Workplaces of DuPage County, Illinois

DuPage is home to a diverse ecosystem of businesses from a variety of industries. Over decades of growth and evolution, this ecosystem been nurtured by our diverse workforce (more than 640,000 strong), our education system, our regional supply chain, our pro-business policies, and the high quality of life that helps us attract top talent.

With that economic growth has come a flourishing office market, where local businesses are introducing bold innovations that turn their ‘workplaces’ into collaborative environments, social spaces and impactful customer experiences.

Want to see more of DuPage’s smartest, sleekest and healthiest workplaces? Take a look at our past lists:

The Smartest, Sleekest, and Healthiest Workplaces: 2020

The Smartest, Sleekest, and Healthiest Workplaces: 2021

The Smartest, Sleekest, and Healthiest Workplaces: 2022




ComEd Economic Development Fact Sheet

ComEd recently updated 2023 Economic Development Fact Sheet, which highlights ComEd and Illinois’ competitive power advantages, as well as ComEd’s latest programs and incentives designed to help power business growth and allow their customers to meet their sustainability goals.

Key Points

Northern Illinois offers new and existing businesses many strong energy-related assets, including competitive power prices, industry-leading reliability, clean energy options, and more:

  • Competitive Power Prices: In ComEd’s service territory, energy charges remain among the most competitive in the Midwest, and commercial rates are sizably smaller than in other U.S. metro areas. ComEd’s average commercial rates are 20% lower than the utilities that serve the top 20 metropolitan areas in the US and 35% lower for industrial customers based on the most recently available data. Additionally, Illinois’ deregulated/competitive energy market provides long term benefits to businesses by providing the ability to negotiate nearly 60% of their electricity costs from more than75 certified suppliers. 

  • Sustainability & Clean Energy: ComEd’s region is a national leader for clean energy generation. Illinois electricity generation ranks in the top 5 for carbon-free states in the country and the 6th largest for installed wind capacity. Through Illinois’ competitive energy market, customers already have access to 100% renewable and clean power options, while the state transitions to a clean energy future as part of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA). In addition, ComEd also provides solar and storage rebates for customers and new incentives to support the electrification of the transportation sector to increase societal sustainability. More information available at www.comed.com/customerchoice, www.comed.com/solar and www.comed.com/EV.

  • Industry-Leading Reliability: ComEd offers our customers the most reliable electricity in the nation, due to our ongoing investments to prepare the grid to stand resilient amid increasingly severe weather and changing electricity uses. Investments in the Smart Grid program over the last decade have helped customers avoid 19 million outages, saving more than in $3 billion in outage related costs, including avoided business losses.

  • Additional Considerations: ComEd customers have access to one of the nation’s largest utility energy efficiency programs, with more than $160M in annual incentives available. Since 2008, ComEd customers saved over $8 billion in electricity costs. Earlier this year, ComEd revealed a $231 million investment to help boost electrification, including EVs, over the next three years, which includes new rebates, rates and infrastructure programs designed to help lower upfront cost barriers for commercial customers looking to electrify their fleets. ComEd’s innovative line-extension program (Rider DE), provides large upfront credits that reduce costs of grid expansion work for qualifying new large customers. Lastly, our workforce development programs are building a strong and diverse talent pipeline through education and training for new and highly specialized jobs across key industries, including EV and solar. More info available at www.comed.com/bizincentives and www.comed.com/WFD.

Download the Fact Sheet.

Addison, Illinois

“Everything Here is Built on Relationships:” How Addison Thrives on Collaborative Culture

Choose DuPage is spotlighting amazing communities, people, and programs across DuPage County. Keep reading to learn about the collaborative culture of Addison, IL and how it helps the community thrive.

ADDISON, IL—Like any great community, the Village of Addison is more than the sum of its parts.

Now, don’t get us wrong; there are plenty of “parts” to love. This DuPage community of 36,000 is home to excellent public schools, beautiful parks, and neighborhoods for families and individuals at any stage of life.

There’s also Addison’s convenient location (the Loop and O’Hare are less than 30 minutes away) and its diverse range of family-owned businesses and Fortune 500 companies. Not to mention: a colorful mix of restaurants, movie theatres, shops, and entertainment attractions, including one of America’s biggest bowling alleys.

But Addison is as much about the things you don’t see as the things you do. This town thrives on a deeply rooted culture of collaboration. Here, the community is all about, well, community: working together, pooling resources, and addressing challenges that no single organization or individual could solve alone.    

If you want to see this collaborative culture in action, then grab your work boots and safety glasses. We’re heading to a business at the heart of Addison’s bustling manufacturing sector: SWD, Inc.

“Where others saw ‘just’ a problem, we saw an opportunity.”

Founded by a high-school shop teacher in 1980, SWD started with three employees working in a 9,000-SF facility. As Addison’s manufacturing industry grew, SWD grew with it. Today, the business is a leader in the Metal Finishing and Fastener Sorting sectors, with 150 team members at its 165,000-SF Addison facility.

Like many businesses in Chicagoland and across the nation, SWD faced an increasingly competitive labor market in the late 2010s. As their business continued to grow, finding workers with the right skills became tougher with each passing year.

SWD and other local manufacturers voiced their concerns to community leaders, and the leaders listened.

In 2018, the Village of Addison created a taskforce with the mission of creating a better talent pipeline and closing the local talent gap. A partnership between the Village and local businesses and schools, the Addison Workforce Development Committee searched for creative solutions to identify in-demand skills in the local market, train students and residents, and connect talented people to job opportunities. 

“Where others saw ‘just’ a problem, we saw an opportunity,” says longtime Addison Mayor Rich Veenstra. “By training and upskilling our residents, we could open the door for great careers right here in Addison, encourage students who studied here to stay here, and help local businesses get the talent they needed.

“This was a chance for us to create a better talent pipeline and make a long-term impact on the community.”  

Addison’s Workforce Development Program eventually connected with the College of DuPage. At the time, COD was in the process of developing its own workforce education initiative called Project Hire-Ed. The Village jumped on the opportunity to collaborate.

“[Rich] was one of the first mayors in the community who expressed interest,” says Linda Sands-Vankerk, who led the program at COD. “He had employers in Addison who were struggling to fill jobs. At the same time, he had community members who were looking for jobs.”

Created by the College of DuPage in partnership with the Village of Addison, Project Hire-Ed merges classroom education with on-the-job training and real-world work. The program uses an “earn-and-learn” model, where students can earn college credit and certificates while working a full-time paid job.

The result is a win-win: Project Hire-Ed helps local employers like SWD find the talent they need, while helping students develop critical skills and land good jobs.

“I’ve done the traditional college route,” says James, an apprentice at SWD and member of Project Hire-Ed. “What this program offers is… you get paid and you get to go to class. And the exposure you get from so many hours of training both inside and outside the classroom is fantastic.”

“Hire-Ed has been a big boost for SWD,” says Erin Strickland, the company’s Director of Human Resources. “It’s allowed us to connect with our community… and tap into the talent that we may miss.”

“We work hard to work together.”

Thanks to its uniquely collaborative culture, Addison has found creative solutions to a complex workforce problem. But that culture extends well beyond a single program or issue.  

In Addison, collaboration is simply the way things work. All branches of the local government come together each quarter to share updates and resources and discuss key issues. Mayor Veenstra also meets regularly with religious and other community leaders to take the pulse on Addison’s residents and brainstorm ideas.

Another place where collaboration comes to life is the Mayor’s Community Charity Ball. This annual event brings together numerous local charities for one big fundraiser. For nonprofits, which would otherwise have to host their own separate events, this means less overhead, more exposure, and more resources to put towards their mission.

To date, the Ball has raised over $1.3 million for local organizations. Much like Addison’s Workforce Development initiatives, it now serves as a model for communities across DuPage and the Chicagoland region.

For cities with diverse needs and perspectives, working together can be hard work. But Addison’s commitment to collaboration is paying off in ways big and small. In 2021, the Village received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize, an award that recognizes communities where organizations collaborate to foster good public health and well-being.

“Everything here is built on relationships,” says Mayor Veenstra.

“Collaboration isn’t something that just happens – you have to work at it. In our community, we work hard to work together, to include everyone at the table and make sure all voices are heard. I believe we’re stronger for it. That’s what the Addison Advantage is all about.”

DuPage Business Beat Podcast

How Do Big Ideas Become Successful Businesses?


Turning a good idea into a real business can be daunting. Between marketing, finance and countless logistical hurdles, it’s hard to know where to start—much less how to build a profitable, sustainable business.

In today’s episode, host Greg Bedalov introduces listeners to Innovation DuPage (ID), an incubator that provides valuable resources to local startups and small businesses.

Greg is joined by two special guests: the Managing Director of ID and the CEO of a member business. Together, they break down how local entrepreneurs can access everything from workspaces and mentorship to “Owner-2-CEO” education programs, marketing support, networking events, and investment opportunities.

Guests: Dan Facchini, Managing Director, Innovation DuPage; Larry Blackburn, Founder & CEO, Datatelligent

Host: Greg Bedalov, President and CEO of Choose DuPage

Dive Deeper:

  • Want to build a more environmentally friendly business? Choose DuPage’s Green Business Assessments provide custom, no-cost sustainability evaluations.
  • Whether you own a local business or are looking for vendors, check out Connect DuPage. This program connects minority, women, disabled, and veteran-owned businesses to helpful resources and new opportunities.
  • Learn more about one of Chicagoland’s hottest startup sectors: quantum technologies.

A special thanks to the College of DuPage for supporting today’s episode. To keep up with what’s happening in DuPage County and the Chicagoland region, follow Choose DuPage on social media or visit ChooseDuPage.com/Ready.

DuPage County Trade Apprenticeship Expo

2023 DuPage County Trade Apprenticeship Expo

PowerForward DuPage will be hosting the 2023 DuPage County Trade Apprenticeship Expo on Wednesday, November 1st from 3:30pm – 6:30pm. The event features interactive, hands-on demonstrations by the county’s building trade organizations as well as opportunities to meet with instructors to learn more about each individual trade apprenticeship program.

“This is our annual opportunity to open the doors and invite students, parents, guidance counselors, and teachers in to learn what each trade is about and more importantly, outline the career potential that exists outside of the traditional collegiate path,” said PowerForward DuPage Executive Director Karyn Charvat. The expo started in 2018 when Charvat noticed a gap forming in the construction trade industries. It is held at the IBEW Local 701 Union Hall, home to PowerForward DuPage.

The DuPage County Trade Apprenticeship Expo is free to attend but requires online registration. Register HERE!

If you are a DuPage County educator and would like your high school to be contacted directly for participation, please contact PowerForward DuPage at 630-791-2660.

IBEW Local 701 Union Hall
28600 Bella Vista Parkway
Warrenville, IL 60555

Deborah Conroy

At “Breakfast,” Great Conversation (and Coffee) Flows

By DuPage County Board Chair Deborah Conroy

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of a good breakfast. After all, many say it’s the most important meal of the day. And when you can combine a good breakfast with wide-ranging, open-minded conversations on topics relevant to the business community in DuPage County, well that’s even better. Get a bunch of smart people around a table, add caffeine, and magic happens.

Somehow, Choose DuPage has taken the magic of a good breakfast chat and scaled it up. We call these events Breakfast with the Chair, and since joining the Choose DuPage community, these AM get-togethers have been one of my favorite things we do.

For those who are unfamiliar, Breakfast with the Chair operates by a simple but ingenious formula. Each quarter, entrepreneurs, experts and community leaders from across DuPage County come together; we give them a good topic and a hearty breakfast, then let the conversations flow.

Often, there are formal presentations, but dialogue is the name of the game, and big, blue-sky ideas are more than welcome. Come with an opinion, leave with a nuanced perspective, a whole lot of facts on the topic and best practices that businesses employ concerning the topic.

Topics on the menu include anything that affects the DuPage community, from technology and sustainability to health and wellness. Since the beginning of 2023, I’ve attended three Breakfasts, and we’ve already covered Artificial Intelligence, Talent Recruitment, and Mental Health in the Workforce.  

The topics vary, but tying all of these Breakfasts together is that key ingredient: conversation. Perhaps many of us spend too much of our time in the world of Likes, Shares, and Posts. I consider these Breakfasts a welcome antidote to our social media-driven, 24-hour-news-cycle culture. Here’s a chance to slow down, think deeply, dance with bold ideas, and walk away with both a richer understanding of important issues and greater respect for other viewpoints.

In other words, these Breakfasts are old-school in the best way. They facilitate the kind of give-and-take conversations that leaders need to be having, and the fact that we host them regularly is a small testament to the distinctively collaborative atmosphere of DuPage and the Chicagoland region.

They’re also, critically, a whole lot of fun. At the end of each Breakfast, I always walk away full of fresh energy and new ideas—and hungry for more.

About the Hon. Deborah Conroy, Chair, DuPage County Board

In 2022, Deborah A. Conroy was elected as the first female Chair of the DuPage County Board. Prior to winning that election, Chair Conroy served in the Illinois State House of Representatives for ten years, beginning in 2012.

During her tenure in the General Assembly, Chair Conroy co-founded the House Democratic Women’s Caucus and served as the first Chair of the Mental Health and Addiction Committee. She advocated for expanded mental health and addiction services, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. She passed legislation expanding access to Naloxone, a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.  Chair Conroy was also lead negotiator on legislation that expanded access to telehealth, and she sponsored legislation putting civics education back in high schools.  Prior to serving in the Illinois House, she was a member of the Elmhurst Community Unit District 205 School Board.

Chair Conroy is a dedicated public servant with a long history of supporting her community. She previously served on the board of the Elmhurst Children’s Assistance Foundation, which provides financial assistance to families with disabled or medically burdened children.

Chair Conroy attended York Community High School, the College of DuPage, and Columbia College. She lives in Elmhurst and has four adult sons.


Customers Save More than $8 Billion on Energy Bills Through Award-Winning ComEd Energy Efficiency Program

ComEd offerings ranked first in Midwest by national energy-efficiency research organization

CHICAGO (Aug. 30, 2023) – Since 2008, hundreds of thousands of families and businesses across northern Illinois have saved a total of more than $8 billion on their energy bills by participating in the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program.

The award-winning program, which is funded in compliance with state law, is one of the largest in the nation offering residents, businesses and the public sector a variety of options that help them cut back on their energy use, which reduces energy bills and helps the environment.

In addition to saving customers more than $8 billion on their energy bills, the program also helped customers save approximately 76 million megawatt-hours of electricity, which is enough energy to power more than 8.6 million ComEd customers’ homes for one year. The program has also helped reduce from the air nearly 65 billion pounds of carbon emissions that contribute to climate change, which is the equivalent of removing more than 6.3 million cars off the road for one year or planting nearly 35 million acres of trees.

“As ComEd works to provide customers with clean, reliable energy, we’ve also worked over the last decade to control costs and keep rates competitive,” said Erica Borggren, vice president of customer solutions at ComEd. “Part of that effort is through the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program, which enables customers to take control of when and how they use electricity to help them manage costs and lower their electric bills.”

In January, the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) recognized ComEd’s Multi-Family Energy Savings offering with an Inspiring Efficiency Award. The offering, one of many available through ComEd’s energy-efficiency program, features assessments and free or discounted energy-saving products to help residents and owners of multi-unit dwellings lower their energy use and electric bills. In May, the program also received the highest level of recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) with an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year—Sustained Excellence Award.

“Energy efficiency plays a crucial role in meeting our nation’s energy needs,” said Mike Specian, utilities manager at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and lead author of the recently released Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranked the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program first among Midwest utility programs and fourth nationally. “It lowers customer energy bills, reduces energy burden, improves in-home comfort, enhances resilience, and improves indoor air quality.”

The scorecard evaluated 53 of the largest U.S. electric utilities on their policy and program efforts related to energy efficiency during 2021. The scorecard also looked at how utilities managed customers at risk of having their electric service disconnected, which can severely damage people’s health and well-being by depriving them of safe living temperatures, refrigeration, and the use of medical equipment, as well as evaluated utilities on how they ensure diverse workforces for their efficiency programs.

How customers can benefit from energy-saving programs

ComEd residential customers interested in taking advantage of any of the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program offerings can view a full list of services, incentives and rebates at ComEd.com/HomeSavings. Offerings for business customers are available at ComEd.com/BizSavings.

For customers who want help getting started, ComEd recommends establishing a free, online account at ComEd.com/MyAccount. Once logged in, customers can compare their current bill with last month’s bill and last year’s bill to learn more about their energy use. They can even view their bill forecast to see an estimate of their upcoming bill, so customers can make changes in energy use to manage costs before their next bill. With an online account, customers can also:

  • Click on My Usage and then Tips to find personalized, energy-saving suggestions based on the information provided in their home profile. These tips can help customers find ways to save money and energy, by cost, season, and more.
  • Sign up for free bill notifications, such as High-Usage Alerts that send notifications when energy use is trending higher than usual, and Weekly Usage Reports that summarize your daily use so you can spot trends and adjust usage before your next bill arrives.
  • Access View My Usage to obtain graphs of existing costs and energy-use patterns. In the Neighbors tab, customers get a relative comparison of energy use from about 100 comparable homes within a certain radius. To increase the accuracy of the comparison, customers can go to My Home Profile to add or change details about your home.
Quantum technology

Illinois & Chicagoland Are Leading Innovation in Quantum

The Chicagoland region stands on the precipice of becoming a global center for quantum technologies, suggests a report released today by World Business Chicago. The transformative impact of quantum technology is expected to outpace current computational capabilities and revolutionize sectors like automotive, finance, life sciences, and beyond.

Read more in World Business Chicago’s Chicago Business Bulletin, “Chicagoland’s Quantum Ecosystem” published in partnership with the Chicago Quantum Exchange and P33 Chicago.

“The motivation behind this report was understanding that quantum, often likened to science fiction, is very real,” expressed Robin Ficke, SVP, Research, World Business Chicago. ” Though quantum applications are still nascent, the strides made by local scientists and innovators are turning heads in the investment and corporate sectors. This report illuminates the region’s opportunity to lead quantum technology’s future.

The Research Center at World Business Chicago delves deeply into the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of both established and emergent industries. Today’s quantum ecosystem report provides an unbiased glimpse into the region’s quantum tech landscape and its broader implications in the U.S. and world.

“We join Governor Pritzker and other key stakeholders, in a commitment to see Illinois and the Chicagoland region become a global quantum hub,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago. “Given our diversified economy, industrial stronghold, top-tier education system, vibrant startup culture, and strong pipeline of leading researchers, scientists and engineers, we’re not just embracing the quantum shift—we are leading it.”

“Quantum technologies have the potential to transform everyday life across multiple sectors, and the Midwest region is poised to become the heart of the nation’s quantum economy, thanks in large part to the deep cross-sector partnerships we have cultivated here,” said David Awschalom, Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and Director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange. “Collaboration among academia, industry, and government labs have attracted substantial investment to the region and contribute to the strong quantum ecosystem reflected in this report.”

World Business Chicago’s Quantum Ecosystem report highlights increasing investments in the region’s quantum ecosystem, why the Chicagoland region is one of the top three best-positioned in the U.S. for supplying the quantum workforce of the future, details of Illinois’ status as a frontrunner in active quantum patents, leading all Midwestern states; and other reasons why the region is a magnet for quantum startups, companies, and leaders of industry. Other findings include:

  • Billions in Quantum’s Wake – Quantum startups globally have attracted an impressive $9.8 billion since 2020, a leap from the prior $1.4 billion over 2014-2019. Illinois has captured $33.2 million since 2017, solidifying its lead for quantum ventures, particularly those focused on software. This can be seen not only in the data but in the personal stories of researchers, startup founders and students who have come to the region for the richness of the quantum ecosystem. Six of those stories are detailed today in a report out by the Chicago Quantum Exchange, including those of three startups that have attracted millions of dollars in public and private investment: EeroQ, which moved its headquarters to Chicago in 2022; Super.tech, a University of Chicago spin-out was acquired in 2022 by Infleqtion (formerly ColdQuanta); and Quantopticon, which is in the process of moving its headquarters to Chicago.
  • Chicagoland: A Quantum Magnet – The region’s quantum ecosystem is more than its startups. Over 40 Fortune 500 companies, leading universities, research labs, and incubators also populate the region. This synergy of tech behemoths, academia, research, and innovative startups positions Chicagoland as a dominant quantum hub.
  • Educational Epicenter – Including nearby quantum centers in UrbanaChampaign and Madison, Wisconsin, the Midwest region is the nation’s third-largest quantum education hub. The Chicagoland region is second in spinning out the most quantum-focused doctoral graduates.

Looking Ahead

Illinois, and the Chicagoland region, is on the precipice of becoming a global hub for quantum development. Today scientists are actively experimenting on ways to increase computer speed, improve cryptography, curate new ways to detect diseases, and more.

“Quantum is ours to win. Every dollar invested, every research paper published, and every startup incubated brings us closer to seeing Illinois and the Chicagoland region a global epicenter of quantum technology,” said Brad Henderson, CEO, P33 Chicago.

SOURCE: World Business Chicago

Chicagoland’s Quantum Ecosystem, Executive Summary 


Chicago is not Silicon Valley: our uniqueness lies in fostering a distinct and diverse technological ecosystem, where the collective business community carves out its own path to innovation. Chicago’s advantage lies in its diverse range of industries, which span finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and more. This diversity allows for cross-pollination of ideas, especially as quantum companies collaborate with various industry sectors, leading to innovative solutions that cater to specific, real-world challenges. Chicago’s rare environment enables rapid commercialization and practical application of quantum technologies.

In this issue of the Chicago Business Bulletin, the World Business Chicago Research Center will illustrate Chicagoland’s advantages in the quantum industry across a number of metrics, including its diverse industrial base, but also academic and research institutions, private and public investments, and intellectual property production.

Key Findings:

  • Chicago’s diverse industry base creates a wealth of real-world challenges and applications for quantum companies to address. Chicago is one of the top metro areas in the US for industries — like high tech, IT-producing, and IT-using industries — that most often acquire new technology as part of their innovation strategies.
  • Within the US, the broader Chicago region (including the Chicago, Urbana-Champaign, and Madison, Wisconsin metro areas) has the third highest number of universities engaged in quantum research activities. With respect to actual academic programs, this region has the third most universities with quantum-related academic program completions.
  • Global investment in quantum startups has increased dramatically since 2020; Illinois is a leader in US-based investments. Illinois has the second most deals made by quantum startups after California. Investment in Illinois and Midwestern quantum startups is more likely to be captured by software-focused firms, compared to hardware-focused firms.
  • Illinois has a diverse, well-balanced distribution of quantum patents across sub-niches, especially compared to other high-performing states with significant quantum presences. Notably, 47.8% of Illinois’ quantum patents fall under quantum devices, while 14.5% are in quantum optics and quantum information processing. In contrast, California — the largest quantum patent producer — has over 70% of its patents in quantum devices and only 5% in quantum optics and quantum information processing.

Fact Sheet

  • Chicagoland offers more than 40 quantum-related corporate, government, academic, and non-profit partners.
  • The Chicago metro area’s high tech industry is poised to grow by 15% between 2022 and 2026.
  • Chicago Quantum Exchange partner universities rank second in the nation for number of quantum related Ph.D. graduates.
  • Illinois quantum startups have raised $33.2 million through 27 deals.
  • With 1,273 active quantum patents, Illinois ranks fifth in the nation.