DuPage County Trade Apprenticeship Expo

DuPage County Trade Apprenticeship Expo

Shining the Light on the Skilled Trades, PowerForward DuPage Hosts Trade Apprenticeship Expo

PowerForward DuPage recently announced the return of the DuPage County Trade Apprenticeship Expo. 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 apprenticeship program.

“It’s our opportunity to throw open the doors and invite everyone to come in – residents, students, post-graduates, parents, guidance counselors, teachers – to learn what each trade is about,” said PowerForward DuPage Executive Director Karyn Charvat. The expo, sponsored by the DuPage County Building & Construction Trades Council and Construction Industry Service Corporation, will be held at the IBEW Local 701 Union Hall, home to PowerForward DuPage.

The expo started in 2018 when Charvat noticed a gap forming in the construction trade industries.

“With the baby boomers retiring, they are really leaving quite a gap in the workforce,” she said. “And realizing younger generations don’t necessarily have the interest in the trades that other generations before them once did, we knew there needed to be some external effort, on behalf of all the trades.”

The event is free to attend but requires online registration at PowerForwardDuPage.com.

WHO: DuPage residents, students, post-graduates, parents, guidance counselors, teachers

WHEN: Thursday, November 10th, 3:30pm – 6:30pm

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


About PowerForward DuPage

PowerForward DuPage acts as a professional partner for businesses, developers, contractors, individuals and municipalities to further excellence and growth in the electrical contracting industry. Visit powerforwarddupage.com for more information.

 

The Smartest, Sleekest & Healthiest Workplaces in DuPage: 2022

Offices in DuPage County

When is a workplace more than just a place for work?

By transforming their offices into collaborative environments and impactful customer experiences, businesses across DuPage County are making us rethink the modern workplace—and even work itself.

These are eight of DuPage’s smartest, sleekest and healthiest workplaces in 2022.

Flavorchem SRS Center for Taste Innovation

Downers Grove, IL | Flavor/Ingredient/Innovation

Flavorchem

Flavorchem Flavorchem

Located on the campus of the company’s global headquarters, the new SRS Center for Taste Innovation gives Flavorchem customers a boutique experience—encouraging innovation, collaboration, and experimentation with trending foods, beverages, flavors and ingredients.

And while the work is focused on tastes and scents, the workplace itself delivers an unforgettable sensory experience.

As you enter the building, you step into an open marketplace. Modeled after trendy urban food halls, the sights, smells and flavors immediately get you in the right mindset. Grab a snack and a coffee, then head to the building’s expansive R&D kitchen, the dedicated pilot plant, the Flavor Lab, or a sensory room for blind and controlled testing. Later, after a long day of working with new products and technologies, you can unwind in one of the premium guest suites.

What makes the SRS Center for Taste Innovation special is that it combines the functional aspects of flavor innovation – state-of-the-art equipment, machines and capabilities – with a matching aesthetic experience. In addition to the urban food hall-style marketplace entrance, there are four specialized application centers including one modeled after a vintage bakery, another that feels like a trendy bar, and a confectionery-centric application center that seems like a place where Willy Wonka would feel right at home.

Get an inside look at the SRS Center for Taste Innovation.  

Architect/Design Team: Lauren Sahs, Designer; Brian Campbell, PM; Matt Meives, Architect.

About Flavorchem: From humble beginnings, Flavorchem has grown to incorporate two business divisions and four global campuses. Today, the family-owned enterprise manufactures over 5,000 flavors, fragrances, and private-label food products annually.

Fun Fact: Announced in 2020, this 25,000-square-foot facility was built on a warehouse affectionally called the “Boneyard,” where old equipment and furniture was stored.


Sassetti Headquarters

Oak Brook, IL | Accounting/Finance

Sassetti

Sassetti Sassetti

Birthday cakes are nice, but Sassetti decided to celebrate 100 years of business with something better—a beautiful new headquarters.

Stepping into the accounting firm’s Oak Brook office today, it’s hard to believe that it was a blank canvas just over a year ago. In summer of 2021, Sassetti began building their new office with a simple goal: to create a space where their team could feel happy and productive.

Today, it seems like they’ve done just that. With natural light and pops of color setting the mood, the 9,500-square-foot office brings together collaborative workspaces, meeting rooms and focus areas, giving employees the flexibility to work how they want, where they want.

Architect/Designer: Dawn Newman, Newman Architecture

About Sassetti: Started in 1921, Sassetti LLC is a CPA firm providing tax strategy, accounting support and assurance services for closely held business owners, family run companies, individuals, not-for-profit organizations and SEC-regulated entities.

Fun Fact: Newman Architecture, the firm behind Sassetti’s new office, has designed a number of recognizable buildings across DuPage, from the Girl Scouts of America’s Camp Greene Wood in Woodridge to the Warrenville Public Library. 


REMPREX Headquarters

Lisle, IL | Logistics, Technology and Data Solutions

Remprex

Remprex Remprex

REMPREX promises to take their clients into the future. When you step into the Remote Operations Center (ROC) of their Lisle facility, it almost feels like you’re already there.

Built in 2020 in Lisle’s Olympian Office Center, the ROC is the centerpiece of the company’s new 33,693-square-foot headquarters. From the real-time TV wall – which makes the ROC feel like a NASA control room – to the custom switchable glass of the executive boardroom, the entire facility feels designed to get you in a future-focused mindset, while amenities like a large lounge with a training room prioritize employee wellness.

From their sleek, high-tech headquarters, REMPREX leverages data insights, human-assisted technology and decades of first-hand experience to help today’s clients think like the businesses of tomorrow.

Architect/Design Contributors: The Interior Design Group LTD (IDG); Larry Dohrer, Architect; Diane Hansa, Designer; The Missner Group, Management.

About REMPREX: Founded in 2006, REMPREX creates customized operating solutions by combining a broad suite of value-added services for intermodal terminals to improve on safety, service levels, cost control and facility capacity. In addition to their Lisle headquarters, the company has locations at more than 80 rail, port and transportation facilities across North America. 

Fun Fact: The designers of the REMPREX facility worked hard to incorporate the brand into nearly every aspect of the facility, from floors that feature REMPREX colors to wall art that showcases the company’s reach.


The Shuman

Naperville, IL | Class-A Office Building

The Shuman Naperville Office Space

The Shuman Naperville Offices Office space in Naperville Shuman

While major cities are known for offering some of the most luxurious working environments, the Chicago suburbs have turned the tables. In recent years, a number of offices have appeared across DuPage that rival the best of their urban counterparts—proving that you can have a luxury workspace close to home.

One of the most striking examples? The Shuman in Naperville. Purchased in 2018 and renovated in 2019, this 350,000-square-foot space has been reinvented as a socially activated, multi-tenant, class-A office building. Here, there’s no such thing as an ‘ordinary’ workday. From the five-story, light-filled atrium to the state-of-the-art gym and the rotating selection of Chicagoland restaurants, the Shuman delivers a truly luxurious experience centered on collaboration, community, health and wellness.

Explore the Shuman’s high-end amenities and urban-inspired workplace experience.

Design/Renovation: Franklin Partners

Fun Fact: Want to practice your swing? Head to the Shuman Open, an on-site golf simulator open for year-round play. 


M/I Homes Chicago-Area Headquarters

Naperville, IL | Homebuilding

DuPage workplaces

As one of the nation’s leading homebuilders, M/I approaches homebuilding with the idea that every square foot must serve a purpose.

M/I applied that same principle when moving their Chicago-area headquarters to CityGate Centre in Naperville, an office where every square foot (all 26,669 of them) serves a purpose.

Representing Naperville’s largest office space move in 2022 thus far, the new space brings together all of M/I’s core services, from homebuilding operations and design to mortgage and title. By bringing these services under one roof, the company can enhance collaboration among its workers and streamline the customer experience.

The new office’s focus on health helps employees feel right at home. In response to COVID-19, Calamos Real Estate installed an ionized clean-air system in the building that houses M/I’s office. This state-of-the-art filtration system eliminates harmful viruses and bacteria from the air without producing harmful levels of ozone or other byproducts, allowing employees to breathe easy while staying true to M/I’s sustainability commitment.

The new location is also key to acquiring and retaining talent. Located among the communities where many of their employees live, CityGate Centre offers employees and customers access to shopping, dining, health services, a luxury hotel and luxury apartment rentals. Learn more about CityGate Centre’s Class A office spaces and amenities.

Architect: Ron Walker, EWP Architects

About M/I Homes: Founded in 1976 by Irving and Melvin Schottenstein, M/I Homes has fulfilled the dreams of over 140,000 homeowners and grown to become one of the nation’s leading homebuilders.

Fun Fact: All of the attributes you see on the “We Wall” (pictured above) were submitted by M/I associates.


Norix Headquarters

West Chicago, IL | Design & Advanced Manufacturing

Norix Industrial Office Space

Top Workplaces in DuPage

For Norix, a leader in the design and production of furniture for healthcare, corrections and other challenging environments, sustainability is front and center. Now, the company’s new corporate headquarters in West Chicago is bringing that value to life—inside and out.

Much like M/I Homes’ new Naperville office, the Norix corporate headquarters in West Chicago consolidates the company’s core services under one roof. Here, products are manufactured, assembled, packaged and stored alongside a showroom for customers and the company’s corporate offices. This allows Norix to streamline their operations and improve collaboration, while inviting customers and employees to join in their commitment to sustainability.

The new building and campus embody that commitment. Located within the 800-acre DuPage Business Center, the 22-acre Norix campus is inspired by the natural prairie that existed prior to the industrial park’s development. That comes with some perks; the landscape’s natural grasses and wetlands require less mowing—less herbicides and fertilizers, too. Meanwhile, paved surfaces are designed to filter stormwater back into the ground, reducing the need for irrigation.

Then there’s the building itself. Designed according to LEED Gold standards, the 205,563-square foot headquarters is mostly powered by clean-energy sources – including on-site solar panels – while features like double-paneled insulated curtain glass and sunshades reduce energy consumption. Powered by clean energy and immersed in natural light, the Norix team integrates green manufacturing principles into their design and production, including product lines made with recycled materials.

That commitment to nature and sustainability extends to the employee experience, with outdoor patios, walking paths and natural interior lighting helping workers feel connected to nature. In-house showers encourage employees to bike to work, while preferred parking spaces are reserved for carpoolers and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Learn more about Norix’s Green Policy.

Architect Team: Heitman Architects

About Norix: Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Norix designs innovative, robust furniture that meets the real-world need for humanizing challenging environments. 

Fun Fact: Heitman Architects, the team behind the new Norix headquarters, has designed more than eight million square feet of LEED-certified industrial buildings, including the first of its kind in Illinois.


P4 Operations Center

Downers Grove, IL | Private Security/Crime Prevention

P4 Companies

P4 Companies P4 Companies Top Workplaces

In the security industry, information is everything. And at the state-of-the-art P4 Operations Center in Downers Grove, information from thousands of sources – cameras, alarms and other sensors – comes together to help the company provide some of the best security solutions in the business.  

P4 provides security for thousands of clients, from schools and hospitals to government officials and even large-scale events. And while they employ thousands of on-site officers in Illinois and elsewhere, their Downers Grove Operations Center functions as the organization’s eyes and ears.

From here, operators tap into real-time data and coordinate with security officers to monitor their clients’ locations and assets, prevent potential crimes, and respond to emergencies. Operators can even lock and unlock doors and perform talk-down procedures to help de-escalate situations hundreds of miles away. The Operations Center also enables P4 to provide cost-effective alternatives to traditional officer staffing, including remote alarm response, video monitoring and other off-site solutions, giving P4 the flexibility to serve a wider variety of clientele. 

In addition to the command center, the 11,000-square-foot Operations Center is also home to P4 Academy, a training facility where security officers take courses in subjects like Emergency Management, Tactical Training and Human Resources Training.

Designed By: P4 President and CEO Lawrence A. Doria

About P4: A locally focused security company supported by state, national and global resources, P4 provides on-site and remote security services for corporations, governments, schools, hospitals, private individuals and others.

Fun Fact: The P4 team recently worked with local police to help prevent a potential car theft at a Chicago-area dealership. Read more about it here.


Venture X Oak Brook – Chicago 

Oak Brook, IL | Shared Workspace

VentureX offices in oak brook

VentureX VentureX

In 2021, businesses and professionals everywhere were grappling with new hybrid-work models (and many of us still are).

Meanwhile, Venture X was building a solution.

With more than 28,000 square feet of space and 80 private offices, Venture X Oak Brook – Chicago is a shared workspace designed for today’s hybrid working models. Flexible, adaptable and featuring all the amenities a team of up to 10 employees might need, the space is designed to accommodate work in all its forms.

Need a quiet place to focus? Step into a turn-key private office with sound suppression. Want to host an event? There’s a space for that. Need to pull the team together for a brainstorm? Head to an on-demand meeting room.

While Venture X provides tenants with the privacy and security they need, it also brings them together as a community. During and after the workday, tenants can relax, mingle and collaborate in a variety of shared spaces—from a café with gourmet coffee and tea to a wellness room, member lounges, and a large, fully furnished outdoor terrace. Venture X also regularly hosts events to help professionals network, meet potential business partners, and share best practices across industries.

Explore the space and take a virtual tour here.

About Venture X Chicago – Oak Brook: Built in 2021, Venture X is a locally owned and operated workspace providing flexible terms, turn-key private offices, event space and on-demand meeting and desk solutions. Private offices can accommodate individuals or teams of up to ten employees, and members are welcome to retrofit their office to suit their needs.

Fun Fact: As a tenant at Venture X Chicago – Oak Brook, you get access to all of Venture X’s locations around the world, from Canada and Mexico to Dubai, India and more.


Keep Exploring the Offices and Workplaces of DuPage County

Workplaces in DuPage County

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 2021 list here and our 2020 list here.

ComEd Recognized as National Utility Leader in Attracting Jobs, Investment to Region

 Electric utility ranked among top 1 percent of all American utilities for reliable and clean energy infrastructure 

 ComEd has been recognized again for its leading role in supporting economic growth and job creation across northern Illinois, according to new rankings by Site Selection Magazine, which named ComEd as one of the Top 20 utilities in economic development. Selected from more than 3,300 electric companies across the country, ComEd is among the top 1 percent of all utilities in attracting new businesses, jobs and investments. 

“Companies continue to invest in northern Illinois thanks to the unparalleled access to clean, affordable and reliable power that is essential for meeting the demands of today’s digital economy,” said Gil C. Quinones, CEO of ComEd. “With industry-leading reliability fueled by our investments in grid modernization, ComEd’s service territory is attracting investment from some of the most innovative and exciting industries in the nation. We are committed to continuing the grid investments needed to transition to a clean energy future and power growth of Illinois companies that bring jobs and opportunity into the communities we are proud to serve.” 

This marks the ninth year ComEd has earned the recognition – a testament to the company’s strong record in delivering clean, reliable and affordable power for 9 million people and businesses in the region, including some of the world’s largest companies. Last year alone, ComEd helped launch 16 new commercial projects – with commitments to invest $3 billion locally and create 4,700 new jobs. 

 “Just as utilities’ generation and distribution portfolios turn toward renewables and smart technologies, the economic developers at Top Utilities like ComEd are helping their communities pursue sustainable growth by cultivating the flow of smart capital and talent,” said Adam Bruns, managing editor of Site Selection. 

The magazine attributes ComEd’s investments to enhance grid infrastructure and promote reliable, clean energy service as key factors that are driving jobs and new business to Illinois. This includes: 

Reliability

ComEd has a key role to play in powering business, as it continues to make the investments necessary to enhance resiliency in the face of climate change, improve safety, and achieve new technology needs in an increasingly clean energy economy. These investments are paying off: ComEd’s overall reliability has improved 79 percent since investments began in 2011, avoiding more than 18.6 million customer interruptions and producing more than $3 billion in savings, including avoided business losses. ComEd’s industry-leading reliability performance continues in 2022, with the company providing its highest reliability on record for the first half of the year, and record storm restoration time amid an uptick in severe storms. 

Clean Energy Access

In support of Illinois’ goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050, ComEd is working closely with a growing developer community to increase access to clean and affordable solar energy in the residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) sectors. Since the community solar program launched, subscribers have grown substantially – from 700 in 2016 to nearly 30,000 residential customers today. 

ComEd offers C&I customers a Distributed Generation (DG) Rebate of $250 per kilowatt of installed solar energy, which helps offset the out-of-pocket costs of installing a qualified renewable energy generating system. In the past four years, ComEd has provided close to $94 million in DG rebates to expand solar projects in northern Illinois. 

EV Expansion

ComEd has also proposed a Beneficial Electrification (BE) plan which commits $300 million over the next three years to help remove barriers to beneficial technologies, including electric vehicles (EVs). A mix of rebates and programs will help communities and customers advance toward clean transportation goals as outlined by the State of Illinois’ Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) law, which seeks to put 1 million vehicles on the road by 2030. The plan also includes technical assistance for businesses with customized fleet assessments, and a new rate delivery class that would help large business customers offset the upfront costs of installing EV charging infrastructure at scale. 

Affordability

ComEd continues to expand programs that help customers save on energy, while keeping monthly bills among the lowest in the nation. ComEd customer bills today are in line with the past several years, and next year’s average bills are expected to remain below those of the 10 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Recently, ComEd’s energy efficiency program hit a critical milestone, saving northern Illinois communities a total of over $7 billion on their electric bills – including nearly $3 billion in savings for businesses – since 2008. 

Workforce Development

To prepare communities for a clean energy future, ComEd is expanding workforce training programs that prepare more diverse, local workers with clean technology skills. Last year, more than 1,700 local residents participated in job training programs sponsored by ComEd, including programs to prepare residents for overhead electrical, construction and solar careers. These programs have a strong job placement rate, with close to 75 percent or more hired upon completion. 

“Access to reliable, affordable, and increasingly sustainable energy is key to companies making location decisions,” said Intersect Illinois CEO Dan Seals. “We’re pleased to see ComEd recognized for its commitment to economic development in Illinois.” 

“We congratulate ComEd on news that it is recognized as a national leader in economic development by Site Selection Magazine,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago, Chief Marketing Officer, City of Chicago. “This recognition is well deserved and testament to ComEd’s long-term commitment to the Chicagoland region, strong performance and innovative energy efficiency programs, all of which are vital to helping local businesses thrive.” 

“ComEd’s track record on reliability, resiliency and affordability has been vital to the growth of our region, and will play a key role in driving economic investment and jobs here for many years to come,” said Will County Center for Economic Development CEO, Doug Pryor. “Businesses know that ComEd provides industry-leading reliability, low and stable pricing, business-focused energy efficiency programs and renewable energy solutions that are critical to businesses aiming for long term sustainability. This provides businesses confidence knowing that when they choose Will County and northern Illinois, they’ll remain competitive in an ever-changing climate.” 

ComEd’s year over year investments in grid modernization continue to drive new business to the area. This includes strong growth by sectors like data centers, logistics and manufacturing, all of which depend on a high volume of clean energy to power local operations and customers served around the world. 

To read the 2022 Top Utilities Ranking story by Site Selection magazine, click here. 

Crown Castle Joins Choose DuPage Board of Directors

Crown Castle DuPage County

Choose DuPage is pleased to announce Crown Castle has joined the Choose DuPage board of directors. Crown Castle, located in Downers Grove, designs and builds solutions for their clients’ unique connectivity needs. They own, operate and lease more than 40,000 cell towers and approximately 85,000 thousand miles of fiber supporting small cells and fiber solutions across every major U.S. Market.

“Joining the board of Choose DuPage is a commitment to advancing our region,” said Greg Bedalov, president and CEO of Choose DuPage. “We are excited to work with Crown Castle and our other private and public-sector leaders to promote DuPage as a premier global business location and support our local business climate.”

“We are thrilled to be joining Choose DuPage and their mission to make DuPage County a premier location for those who both work in and call the area home,” said Crown Castle Public Affairs Manager Renee Morales. “Our infrastructure connects communities to essential data, technology, and wireless service – bringing information, ideas and innovations to the people and businesses that need them. As new technologies continue to advance, we look forward to bringing connectivity to the region, ensuring DuPage County remains a strategic location for businesses to thrive.”   

Click here to view a full list of board members.

Business leaders gather to hear economic and business outlooks at the 12th Annual DuPage County Regional Business Outlook event

Regional Business Outlook

More than 400 of the region’s top business and civic leaders gathered Thursday, June 2, 2022, at the 12th Annual DuPage County Regional Business Outlook event held at the Drury Lane. Under the theme Better Together, the event shared actionable insights and valuable perspectives on the evolving business climate and how the community can work together for a better tomorrow. Scroll down to view a recording of the event.

Pictured above, left-right: Laurie Miller, Ice Miller LLP, Tim Crane, Jarrett Payton, Cara Esser, Natalie Brown, Mesirow, and Greg Bedalov, Choose DuPage

Cara Esser, CFA, Managing Director, Research and Portfolio Management, Retirement Advisory Services for Mesirow returned for the second year to deliver the Global Economic Outlook. Esser detailed current economic trends and the likelihood of a potential recession.

“The stock market isn’t the economy,” said Esser. “Estimates for U.S. GDP growth in 2022 remain strong. Americans are still spending, retail sales are rising, and restaurants are seeing more in-person diners than before the pandemic.” She continued, “Inflationary pressures are broadening out, but some formerly hot sectors are cooling off. Most U.S. consumers should be able to weather a modest downturn in the economy.”

Tim Crane, President of Wintrust echoed some of these perspectives in his Business Outlook, where he shared insights into how these economic trends and other factors are impacting the business community.

“We are still somewhat optimistic about the economy, but it’s going to be very choppy… things will remain turbulent for some time,” Crane said. He then outlined some of challenges the business community is facing now and, in the future, including cyber security and fraud prevention, the evolving use of office space and how it will impact real estate, and labor – particularly, young people.

Jarrett Payton, a television sports personality, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, concluded the event with a keynote address. Payton shared stories about some of the moments that have shaped his life and the importance of finding passion, having persistence, and being present.

The annual DuPage County Regional Business Outlook event, hosted by Choose DuPage, Ice Miller LLP, and Mesirow, brings together DuPage County’s business owners and executives, government and education leaders and other members of the local business community to gain key insights about the current regional and national economic landscape, as well as to discuss best practices and growing potential in today’s economy.

Watch a video of the presentations, below.


About Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance

Choose DuPage is the regional economic development organization for DuPage County, Illinois. A public/private partnership, Choose DuPage is dedicated to advancing DuPage County as a premier global business location. Geographically desirable, with a highly skilled labor force, DuPage County offers a diverse economy, friendly business climate, and substantial transportation network. Choose DuPage leverages these benefits to retain and attract business, support local economic development efforts, and address policy issues critical to the needs of business.

www.choosedupage.com

About Ice Miller LLP

Ice Miller LLP is a full-service law firm dedicated to helping our clients stay ahead of a changing world. With over 350 legal professionals in seven offices, we advise clients on all aspects of complex legal issues impacting businesses each day. We serve emerging growth companies, FORTUNE 500 corporations, municipal entities and nonprofits.

www.icemiller.com

About Mesirow

Mesirow is an independent, employee-owned financial services firm founded in 1937. Headquartered in Chicago, with locations around the world, we serve clients through a personal, custom approach to reaching financial goals and acting as a force for social good. With capabilities spanning Global Investment Management, Capital Markets & Investment Banking, and Advisory Services, we invest in what matters: our clients, our communities, and our culture.

Mesirow was recently named one of the Best Places to Work in Chicago by Crain’s Chicago Business and one of the Top 100 RIAs for 2021 by Barron’s.

www.mesirow.com

DuPage County to Host Inaugural Community Arts Festival

DuPage Community Arts Festival

DuPage County will host its inaugural DuPage Community Arts Festival to highlight the importance of arts in our community.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on May 28 at the north grounds of DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. There will be three stages providing musical acts, along with food trucks and a beer tent providing refreshments. Local community artists will be showcasing and selling their work throughout the festival.

Groups scheduled to perform during the DuPage Community Arts Festival include the headline act, Ides of March, and others including the Orbert Davis Quintet, Muriel Anderson, Ralph Covert and Ralph’s World, Son Monarcas, the DuPage Symphony Ensembles, the Chicago Jazz Academy, Vital Signs, the Road Show Inc. Show Choir, Elmhurst Symphony Chamber groups, and many more, including a visual performance by artist Lewis Achenbach.

DuPage County formed an Ad Hoc Fine Arts Committee to develop the festival as an opportunity to support local artists, many of whom have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This event will highlight the importance of the arts and the pivotal role they play in driving economic development. A thriving arts community means a thriving DuPage County,” said Lynn LaPlante, Chairwoman of the Ad Hoc Fine Arts Committee. “This brand-new initiative gives these talented artists a platform to promote the amazing work they’re doing. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to come together and celebrate as a community after a very difficult two years.”

Presale tickets for the DuPage Community Arts Festival are currently available and cost $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for children under the age of 3. A family pass will be available for $50. Tickets bought at the gate will cost $25 for adults, $12 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for children under the age of 3. A family pass bought at the gate will cost $60.

Funds raised through the festival will be used to support future arts-related efforts. To purchase tickets, or for more information, please visit the DuPage County Fair Association website at https://dupagecountyfair.org.

 

ComEd Reaches Highest Levels of Reliability as Severe Weather Events Challenge Power Grids

Investments have helped prevent more than 17 million customer outages since 2011 

 ComEd in 2021 delivered some of its highest levels of year-over-year reliability as a result of power grid investments such as smart switches that reroute power around potential problem areas, new storm hardening and vegetation management solutions, and cable replacement. Since grid improvements began in 2011, overall reliability has improved 68 percent. ComEd has avoided more than 17 million outages for customers, saving more than $3 billion in outage costs. 

Utilities must continue to invest in the power grid to address severe weather and rapid increases in renewable energy and electric vehicles. ComEd has proven itself as a national leader in the use of advanced technologies to benefit its customers and communities and ensure the region remains competitive. 

“To meet the needs of our customers, ComEd continues to modernize the grid to deliver the reliable power that our customers and communities need to live, work and succeed in a 21st century economy,” said Terence Donnelly, president and chief operating officer of ComEd. “In the face of increasing and more intense weather events, our investments have enabled ComEd to reach new heights of reliability while laying the foundation for future technologies that expand renewables and support Illinois customers and communities as we transition to a clean energy economy.” 

Grid investments have provided customers reliable power but have also paved the way for ComEd customers to realize the full potential of digital grid technology, providing access to more clean energy options like solar, wind and more. At the same time, ComEd’s rates today are among the most competitive in the nation: Average residential rates are 17 percent lower than the 10 top U.S. metro areas, and average commercial rates are 18 percent lower than the top 20 U.S. metro areas. As a percentage of residents’ median income, ComEd’s residential electricity cost is nearly the lowest in the country. 

“Investments we’re making in the grid are already helping us reduce the number and duration of customer interruptions,” said Donnelly. “As we invest in technology that brings more renewable energy to the grid, we can both reduce emissions while improving the resiliency of the system.” 

In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that outlined the widespread, rapid and intensifying impacts of the climate crisis due to fossil-fuel emissions. The report called out the need for the electric grid to be more resilient because it is often the last line of defense for residents and businesses.

In addition to producing strong power reliability, Illinois’ competitive electricity supply market helped to attract significant business expansion across ComEd’s northern Illinois service territory. In 2021 alone, ComEd’s Economic Development Team helped support the launch of 16 new industrial projects representing 548 MW of new committed capacity-enough to power 155,000 homes. These new projects will collectively support 4,700 new jobs and $3 billion in investment for the region. 

“Reliable and clean energy are great assets to Illinois and top priorities for companies making location decisions,” said Intersect Illinois CEO Dan Seals. “ComEd’s investment in infrastructure is key to bringing business to the state.” 

Comcast Rise Applications Now Open to All Women-Owned Small Businesses

Comcast Rise
 In its first year alone, Comcast RISE has provided over $60 million in grants, marketing and technology services to support more than 6,700 small businesses owned by people of color in Comcast’s national footprint – including nearly 550 in the company’s Greater Chicago Region. 

Comcast announced recently that its Comcast RISE program is open to all women-owned businesses in its Greater Chicago Region, which includes Illinois, Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan. The expansion of Comcast RISE to women-owned businesses furthers the company’s efforts to advance digital equity and help provide underrepresented small business owners with access to the digital tools and funding they need to thrive. 

In its first year alone, Comcast RISE has provided more than $60 million in grants, marketing and technology services to more than 6,700 small businesses owned by people of color – including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and Asian Americans – in Comcast’s national footprint, including nearly 550 in the company’s Greater Chicago Region. Of the 6,700 Comcast RISE recipients to date, nearly 70% have been businesses owned by women of color, spurring Comcast to take a deeper look into the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. 

According to a study by the National Association of Women Business Owners, 42% of businesses in the U.S. are owned by women – and that women start more than 1,800 new businesses each day. That’s nearly five times the national average. However, according to the same study, women-owned businesses tend to grow at only half the rate of those run by men, namely because women struggle to access capital and other resources to help them succeed. 

Karen Cahn, Founder & CEO of IFundWomen, echoed this important point, “The data about how women, a rapidly increasing number of whom are small business owners, have fared during the pandemic is stark. Women business owners tend to have limited access to capital and debt-free funding options, yet they represent a tremendous opportunity. Women-owned businesses deliver two times higher revenue per dollar invested than those founded by men, making them great investments.” 

“As we continue to rebuild and emerge from the effects of the pandemic, small businesses will continue to be the backbone of our economy – and we must take every opportunity to help them thrive,” said Teresa Ward-Maupin, Senior Vice President, Digital and Customer Experience, Comcast Business. “Looking forward, this expansion will enable Comcast RISE to further empower and strengthen even more small businesses that are the heart of our local communities across the country.” 

Comcast RISE, which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment, is part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help provide underrepresented small business owners with access to the digital tools and funding they need to thrive. Over the next 10 years, Comcast has committed $1 billion to programs, like Comcast RISE, and partnerships that will reach an estimated 50 million people with the skills, opportunities and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

Comcast RISE, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, is open to racially and ethnically diverse small business owners and all women-owned businesses. More information and the application to apply for marketing and technology services are available at www.ComcastRISE.com. 

 

Tax incentives, other advantages make DuPage a ‘Goldilocks zone’ for data centers

When selecting sites for new data centers – facilities that house the computer servers responsible for powering today’s digital networks – companies must search for a ‘Goldilocks zone’ of conditions.

From affordable, reliable energy to a workforce that can keep the equipment running, everything has to be just right.

Now, a recent report ranks the Chicagoland region (including DuPage County) as the world’s second-best market for data centers, just behind Northern Virginia and ahead of the likes of Silicon Valley and Dallas-Fort Worth. Over the past several years, the region has leveraged its existing strategic advantages with new state sales tax incentives to create optimal conditions for data centers, and the world is taking notice.

It’s a data world—we’re just living in it.

Unless you’re in the industry, chances are good that you’ve never actually been inside a data center—most of us haven’t. At the same time, the servers housed in these facilities impact nearly every aspect of our lives.

From the Netflix series we binge on Friday nights to the files we download from our employers’ servers on Monday morning, much of the data we rely on every day is processed and stored within data centers, along with more sensitive information such as proprietary corporate data, financial assets, government files, and medical information. Virtually every modern business and government office relies on vast quantities of data. Data centers house this information, allowing clients to access it quickly and securely.

And data usage is only growing. As we integrate new technologies within our society – more advanced AI, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and 5G service, not to mention Facebook’s recently announced ‘multiverse’ project – we are building a world that is increasingly reliant on data.

Which is to say, a world that is increasingly reliant on data centers.

Today, companies cannot build data centers fast enough. Often, these businesses have clients lined up to use their services before they even break ground. At the same time, data centers are complex investments that require high volumes of capital; the majority of projects cost more than $250 million. With that much money at stake, as well as their client’s trust and security, companies are understandably picky when it comes to where they invest in new data centers.

locations for data centers

What makes DuPage a top choice?

As the demand for real-time data transmission reaches an all-time high, the DuPage region has emerged as a prime location for data centers. A recent report from Cushman & Wakefield names the Chicagoland region (including DuPage) as the second-best market for data centers globally. That ranking comes as, over the past five years, DuPage has seen a 3.4% growth in data centers, with more projects in the works.

What makes the DuPage region a leading choice for data centers boils down to a mix of strategic advantages, including:

  • State and local tax incentives. Due to 2019 legislation, qualifying Illinois data centers are exempt from paying state and local taxes on equipment over a 10-year period, making the state a major draw for the sector. The same legislation provides a tax credit of 20% of wages paid to construction workers for projects located in underserved areas, spurring economic growth within these communities.

    Experts say that these tax incentives – which make Chicago one of the most affordable national markets for data centers – will cause an uptick in leasing activity, as major cloud companies invest in the area. Illinois is also one of a few states that does not assess a personal property tax, another financial advantage.

    While this incentive draws companies to the Chicagoland region, DuPage has the additional advantage of low property and sales taxes.
  • Access to affordable, reliable and renewable energy. “Every business relies on energy, but for data centers it’s mission critical,” said Ed Sitar, Manager of Economic and Business Development at ComEd, which provides electric power to the Chicagoland region.

    To host and protect their clients’ assets, data centers depend on having access to energy at all times. And since these businesses require large volumes of energy, they need that power to be not only reliable, but affordable and clean.

    ComEd, which is ranked among the top 10% of energy companies in the nation for performance reliability, provides highly reliable energy for customers at a rate that is among the most competitive in the U.S.

    In addition, Illinois has the sixth-lowest electricity-generated carbon emissions in the country. Businesses here can obtain 100% renewable energy options through the competitive supply market, helping them reach their sustainability goals.

    Illinois, already the sixth-largest wind energy-producing state, recently passed legislation that sets the state on a path for 100% renewable energy by 2050.
  • “Free cooling.” One of the greatest challenges of operating a data center is keeping servers cool. These devices are running all day, every day, and they tend to overheat. Due to the DuPage region’s northern climate, companies can pump outside cold air into their facility for much of the year, enabling them to cut back on energy usage. This gives the region an advantage over other popular markets in warmer climates.

  • An extensive fiber network. Data centers rely on a robust infrastructure of fiber optics, as well as other utilities. While facilities in other locations, particularly rural areas, often have to build this infrastructure from the ground up, DuPage already has it—enabling tech companies to reduce the time and cost of construction and get their facility running sooner.

  • Access to a massive talent pool. DuPage has a large and diverse talent pool living and working within the community. Many local companies also draw talent from Chicago, which is right next door. An extensive public transportation system makes commuting to and from the city easy.

  • Access to a highly skilled and diverse construction workforce. Building a data center is complicated and labor-intensive, requiring a large local workforce with specialized skills. And, as demand for data services grows exponentially, projects tend to run on a tight timeline.

    As regions across the nation experience labor shortages – particularly in construction – many lack the skilled workforce needed to complete these projects quickly and efficiently.

    DuPage is a different story. The region is home to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 701 and the DuPage JATC, a joint apprenticeship training program between the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the IBEW. Through this collaboration, professionals are equipped with the latest construction techniques in state-of-the-art training environments. In turn, contractors can draw on this highly skilled labor to build the next generation of data centers.

    “DuPage is fortunate to have a strong union labor-management collaboration including world-class training centers, where contractors have access to building trades persons who learn the latest construction techniques,” said Dan Allen, Executive Director of the Construction Industry Service Corporation (CISCO). “As a result, the data centers are built to precise specifications to house these mission-critical components. The availability of skilled union contractors, the skilled union workforce that they employ, and next generation of electrical workers currently being trained, puts DuPage County in a most favorable position to continue to attract these types of projects for years to come.”

  • A minimal risk of natural disasters. In many regions, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters pose a serious threat to data centers – which often contain sensitive, irreplaceable data – a threat that is expected to intensify in the coming decades. A centrally located community in Northeastern Illinois, DuPage offers a safe location with a minimal risk of natural disasters.

  • Desirable amenities. DuPage features a beautiful network of nature parks, a thriving cultural and arts scene, and world-class dining and entertainment, as well as attractive living spaces and nationally ranked schools. These amenities help local companies attract and retain high-caliber talent.

  • A global transportation network. Three nearby international airports – O’Hare, Midway and the DuPage Airport – plus several major highways, make it easy for staff and clients to travel to and from practically anywhere in the world. In addition, DuPage is offering businesses unprecedented access to O’Hare through the Western Access Initiative.

data center tax incentives

How do data centers benefit our communities?

DuPage offers a number of benefits for the owners and operators of data centers, but how do data centers benefit DuPage?

While data centers are often criticized for failing to bring large numbers of permanent jobs to communities, that hasn’t been the case in DuPage—and it likely isn’t the whole story in other communities that are home to these facilities.

The majority of data centers in DuPage employ 25 to 100 full-time workers; in order to receive Illinois’ state and local tax breaks on equipment, centers must employ at least 20 full-time workers and the jobs must pay at least 120% of the given county’s median wage. And studies show that these high-paying jobs often generate many more jobs within the community.

According to a 2018 study by research firm RTI International, data center jobs have a ‘multiplier effect’ on the local workforce: “For every one data center worker, there were five jobs supported elsewhere in the economy by operating expenditures—after the surge in jobs caused by capital expenditures.” (This study was funded by Facebook and focused on its U.S. data center fleet. Its findings were consistent with a different 2018 study funded by Google and focused on European markets.)

In other words, data centers generate long-term job growth within communities, well beyond the construction contracts and other short-term jobs related to the initial investment. According to the RTI report, every $1 million spent on data center operations supports 13 jobs elsewhere in the economy.

Beyond creating jobs, data centers inject millions of dollars into the local economy through taxes—property taxes, but especially water and utility. In a February 2021 Sun-Times article, Lauren Huffman, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said the state’s incentive programs have already generated more than 370 jobs and $4.5 billion in private investment. (Read more about the impact of data centers on local economies here.)

“DuPage is good for data centers, and data centers are great for DuPage,” said Ron Lunt, Founding Partner of development company Hamilton Partners.

In early 2021, NTT Ltd., one of the world’s largest information-technology companies, opened their U.S. Data Center Campus at Hamilton Partner’s Hamilton Lakes Business Park. Located in Itasca at the intersection of the new Elgin O’Hare Expressway (I-390) and I-355, the park is a 15-minute drive from Chicago’s International Airport. In addition to office space, the campus features the Westin Hotel, the Hamilton Lakes Athletic Club, a daycare center, nature paths, and various restaurants.

“They employ our people, they fund public projects, they invigorate our local economy, and, importantly, they help us continue to attract further investment. DuPage is emerging as a global hub for innovative companies and talented people, and data centers play a key role.

“These are forward-thinking companies—they’re always looking to the near- and long-term future. And when they look at DuPage, they see an environment that has everything they need to build this future.”

data centers chicago

ABOUT DUPAGE COUNTY, ILLINOIS

Just west of Chicago, DuPage County is a diverse, innovative community offering a strategic location, a collaborative environment, a diverse culture, beautiful parks and trails, a vibrant arts scene, excellent schools, responsible local governance, and world-class workplaces.

Want to learn more? Take a look at our list of The Top DuPage Workplaces of 2021, dive into the history of the I-88 Corridor, or learn how global industry leader Ball Horticultural is literally coloring our world from DuPage County.

ComEd Receives National Recognition for Successful Programs that Prepare Chicago-Area Residents for Good-Paying Jobs

ComEd

 CHICAGO (Nov. 22, 2021) – In recognition of ComEd’s successful job training and job placement programs that serve minority communities and advance equity, the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) honored ComEd with the Community Partner Award as part of its 2021 Impact Awards for Workforce Development Excellence. 

“Our comprehensive workforce development efforts lift up the communities we’re privileged to serve, and we’re honored to receive national recognition of our successful job training and job placement programs,” said Diana Sharpe, vice president of economic and workforce development at ComEd. “This success is a shared success, as our programs have thrived because they are powered by local community partnerships.” 

CEWD presented ComEd with its Community Partner Award based on the strength of two of its programs: the CONSTRUCT Infrastructure Academy and its partnership with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) program Chicago Builds. 

ComEd’s CONSTRUCT Infrastructure Academy prepares local, diverse job seekers for entry-level roles in the utility and construction sectors. Since 2013, more than 600 students have completed the Academy with 70 percent of them securing employment shortly after graduating. Most of them are women, African Americans and Latinos who historically have faced barriers to entering these industries. 

Through the ComEd Infrastructure Academy, ComEd works with 10 non-profit training affiliates and more than 40 corporate partners to recruit, train and hire candidates. Program graduates are better prepared to enter related fields with the knowledge and training that qualify them for entry-level jobs with good-paying, livable wages. 

Chicago Builds is a vocational trades program for CPS juniors and seniors that began in the 2020-2021 academic year. This two-year CPS program provides technical training skills in a variety of fields, including energy. ComEd partners with CPS to provide career exploration sessions and hands-on activities. 

For more information or questions about the CONSTRUCT program, contact WorkforceDevelopment@ComEd.com.