Rebuild Illinois Wet Lab Capital Program

Wet Lab

$9 million Notice of Funding Opportunity to boost development of wet labs across Illinois

Illinois is a global leader in the life sciences industry, featuring some of the top research hospitals and chemical manufacturers in the country.

Wet labs, or laboratories with specialized ventilation and utility connections to allow for research of chemicals and materials, are critical for life sciences innovation to thrive but require large amounts of physical space and are costly to build. Available wet lab space is scarce throughout Illinois, which limits the competitiveness of the state’s life sciences sector, despite our other advantages.

This grant will encourage the development of wet lab space that will be multi-tenant shared space available to incubators, corporations, university researchers, and start-ups. Grant funds will be awarded on a competitive basis to fund the construction or renovation of facilities that house wet lab space and promote the growth of life sciences in Illinois.

On November 18, 2020 at 11:00am, DCEO will be conducting a Wet Lab Capital Program Technical Assistance Webinar which you can register for here

For more information about the program, click here

For Food Industry Leaders, DuPage has all the Right Ingredients

Food Industry

Much like grandma’s famous lasagna, the right location for food processors and distributors comes down to the ingredients.

Only, in this case, it has less to do with meat sauce and mushrooms—and everything to do with transportation channels, water access, local industry expertise, and other key factors.

Located in Illinois—the #1 state for food processing, with more than $180B in annual sales—DuPage County offers a strategic location just west of Chicago, with a rich history of food science and production. Here, food producers have everything they need to grow their business, develop innovative foods, and quickly and efficiently get their products to any market.

Today, DuPage is home to many of the world’s leading food businesses, from the innovation labs of Greenleaf Foods to the “Lasagna Headquarters” of Rana Meal Solutions, as well as Pepperidge Farm, Campbell Soup, Nestle, Ferrara Candy Co., Hormel Foods, and many others (scroll down for a list of top food industry businesses in DuPage).

Today, many of these DuPage businesses are expanding their operations—even amid in the pandemic.

Greenleaf Foods, SPC, producer of some of the world’s most delicious and nutritious plant-based protein—including the #1 meatless hot dog in the U.S.—recently expanded their DuPage facility. Earlier this year, the company signed a long-term lease in Lisle (DuPage) for a new 23,000-SF innovation center. The center features a test kitchen, laboratory and pilot plant. Greenleaf recently took a leading market position in the refrigerated, plant-based protein category, and their Lisle expansion is part of a greater strategy to grow their operations and continue diversifying their portfolio.

<Food Industry

“Our innovation center in Lisle will be an essential hub for collaboration and ideation that helps us drive and sustain business growth,” says Dan Curtin, President of Greenleaf Foods. “Plus, it’s centrally located near our corporate office and Chicago’s O’Hare airport, making it convenient for our customers and associates to visit.”

And Greenleaf is far from the only food business upgrading their operations in DuPage. Rana Meal Solutions, a leading producer of pasta in Europe and, more recently, the U.S., has expanded their facility in the Brewster Creek Business Park of Bartlett (DuPage). Much of Rana’s fresh lasagna is now produced in the new 326,000-SF building, which has earned the nickname “Lasagna Headquarters.”

DuPage County: Benefits for the Food Industry

  • The Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH). Located just outside DuPage in Bedford Park, the IFSH is a one-of-a-kind applied food science research consortium comprised of the Illinois Institute of Technology, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and leaders of the food industry. In collaboration with the FDA, the IFSH provides stakeholders with the opportunity to develop and exchange knowledge, experience and expertise in the areas of food safety, defense, processing and nutrition.
  • Unrivaled industry expertise. Illinois is home to more than 72,000 farms, covering nearly 76% of its total land area. Illinois farms are top producers of corn, soybeans, livestock and dairy. The state also boasts more patents in food-related industries than any other state—in fact, it has more patents than many countries do.
  • Ample access to water. Water is essential for the manufacturing and transportation of food, and DuPage offers more than 100 miles of navigable waterways. The region’s water is supplied by Illinois’ Lake Michigan Water Division. In addition, DuPage County owns and operates six water systems to service customers.
  • A strategic location for production and distribution. Just 25 miles west of Chicago, DuPage is at the heart of an international, multimodal freight gateway, offering: North America’s largest inland port, three nearby international airports (O’Hare, Midway and the DuPage Airport), one of the nation’s busiest rail gateways, seven major interstates and some 30,000 miles of highways. As we saw earlier this year, when numerous flights were canceled that would otherwise transport cargo, having access to multiple transportation modes is essential—especially in times of crisis.

Food Industry

Additional DuPage County Benefits

  • DuPage is home to 127 square miles of prime real estate that will soon offer direct access to O’Hare through the region’s Western Access initiative.
  • Local businesses benefit from a business-friendly climate with low commercial property taxes and a highly skilled and educated workforce.
  • Our residents enjoy a high quality of life, with easy commutes, excellent schools, numerous recreational amenities and more space for work and life.
  • DuPage County’s highly desirable commercial properties offer space for large industrial facilities and flexible leases.

Top Food Industry Employers in DuPage:

  • Greco & Sons
  • Get Fresh
  • Rana Meal Solutions
  • Cheese Merchants of America
  • Treehouse Foods
  • Hearthside Food Solutions
  • Wilton Brands
  • Harvest Food Group
  • Pepperidge Farm
  • Nonni’s Foods
  • Campbell Soup
  • Hormel Foods
  • Armour-Eckrich Meats
  • Nestle
  • Otto & Sons
  • Bay Valley Foods LLC
  • Tyson Foods
  • Sara Lee Frozen Bakery
  • McCain Foods
  • Amalgamated Sugar Co.

Hungry for more? Get the facts about the Food Processing & Distribution industry in DuPage County, IL.

In Elmhurst, community rallies to support local businesses, and businesses rally to support community

Kie&Kate Elmhurst

Since she founded her boutique in 2008, Kate Kemph, owner of Kie&Kate Couture in Elmhurst, has understood that her business is part of an ecosystem. The community supports her business; her business supports the community; and, like any ecosystem, the strength of one depends on the strength of all.

In 2020, the ecosystem was put to the test. Elmhurst, like every community, has faced the economic impact and human devastation of the pandemic. But Elmhurst has proven to be resilient, thanks to the creativity of local leaders and the powerful bond between residents and local businesses. Now, the community is showing signs of growth and healing.

Today, we’re taking a look at Elmhurst through the eyes of Kate, a local business leader, to see how her boutique has emerged from a tough year stronger than ever—and how she’s giving back.

While sales were slow at the beginning of the pandemic, Kate’s boutique—which offers clothing, health products and more—pivoted quickly, and that made all the difference. Within the first weeks of the shutdown, Kie&Kate began offering a new product, weekly ‘Friday Feel Good’ packages filled with items hand-picked from the store. It was the first of many innovations to come.

As Kate says, “People went crazy for them.”

In addition to new marketing initiatives, like Feel Good Fridays, Kie&Kate launched a new online ecommerce platform. At a time when Amazon was only shipping essentials and big-box retailers like Nordstrom were 3-4 weeks delayed, Kie&Kate’s new platform enabled them to offer curbside pickup, delivery and shipping within 48 hours or less. Meanwhile, the boutique added new products to their inventory that appealed to customers in 2020: work-from-home clothing, loungewear, spa-at-home products and masks.

Even before the pandemic, Kate says that her boutique had a loyal customer base. But, by doubling down her efforts on social media, she was able to engage that base like never before and grow it.

“I was personally forced to step outside my comfort zone and get in front of my customers on social media,” says Kate, who found that providing helpful content to her customer base ultimately drove sales and built loyalty. “Offering stories, advice, recipes and virtual shopping hours turned out to be helpful and warmly received.”

The quick-thinking and hard work paid off, and Kie&Kate is having their biggest year yet. Sales are up, and—thanks to their online platform and social media content—Kate says that sales during Mother’s Day week were as high as they usually are at the height of the holiday season.

Kie&Kate was far from the only Elmhurst business to pivot during COVID-19. Numerous local shops created ecommerce options and expanded their social media presence. Local restaurants altered their menus and offered new ways for their customers to safely get their food, like walk-up service windows, delivery services and interesting at-home options. (For example, one local business offered an at-home crepe kit that proved to be a hit.)

And while these businesses were forced to pivot and think creatively, Kate says that they couldn’t have been successful without the support of the surrounding community.

“The entire town rallied around my business during COVID,” she says. Local residents showed their support by placing orders, sharing posts on social media, and tuning into Kie&Kate’s weekly Instagram Live stream.

Local businesses, organizations and officials lent a hand. For example, the District 205 Foundation partnered with various small-business owners—with Jennifer Blanchette from Maxine’s Boutique taking point—to organize a Boutique Crawl, a fundraiser that brought the community together.

“The City of Elmhurst was also very supportive of our business and continues to be helpful and responsive,” Kate says. “Erin Jason (the Business-Development Coordinator for the City of Elmhurst) called me at the beginning of the shutdown to offer advice, support, and give me a lay of the land. I was very clear on what we were allowed to do, and that made it easier to bring in additional staff to help with my business.”

The City of Elmhurst has supported local businesses throughout the pandemic—often in surprising ways. For example, the City has allowed restaurants to expand outdoor dining on public and private property, established dedicated curbside pick-up locations, and expanded the liquor licenses of some businesses to accommodate for outdoor seating. City officials have also allowed City-owned property to be used for outdoor fitness classes and have worked with individual businesses to find new opportunities.

And while the community has rallied to support local businesses like Kie&Kate, these businesses have, in turn, given back to the community. Several restaurants have fed frontline workers; banks have helped hundreds of Elmhurst businesses secure CAREs Act Funding; and, when possible, numerous business owners have donated to recovery efforts.

Throughout the pandemic, Kate’s boutique has found creative ways to support teachers, nurses and other frontline workers. A few examples: They donated $1,000 to the Elmhurst District 205 COVID Relief Fund, contributed $350 to the Chicago COVID Response Fund, have given countless yards worth of fabric to people and organizations making masks, and have even created custom care packages.

“I love supporting the community through my business,” Kate says. “There are so many incredible organizations, foundations, causes, fundraisers and clubs in Elmhurst. We live in an active, vibrant town with many talented, professional and creative people.

“I love coming together to impact our community in positive ways.”

While the pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn have hit every community hard, Elmhurst seems to be on its way toward a better future. Drive through Elmhurst today, and you’ll see signs of progress: new industrial building popping up, residential projects preparing to welcome new tenants in 2021, “Coming Soon” signs in windows along the downtown main street and throughout the community.

No words can do justice to the challenges our towns and families have faced this year. But communities like Elmhurst show that creative people working together can make it through the most difficult times—and even come out stronger on the other side.

Elmhurst is a community in DuPage County, Illinois. Like Elmhurst, communities across DuPage have rallied to support local businesses, protect the health of residents and visitors, and even use science to fight back against COVID-19.

Learn more at ChooseDuPage.com/Ready

West Side Tractor opens new headquarters in Lisle

West Side Tractor

The Benck family, ownership of West Side Tractor Sales and RCE Equipment Solutions, are thrilled to announce the opening of their new headquarters. After almost 60 years, the Naperville location (1400 W. Ogden Ave) has been relocated to 3300 Ogden Avenue, Lisle, IL 60532. This is a homecoming for the local family business as West Side Tractor Founders Rich and Mary Benck started the dealership in Lisle, Illinois in 1962. The original 1,000-square-foot West Side Tractor branch was located three miles down the road from where the new headquarters stands today.

The Lisle headquarters project was in the works for almost five years from start to finish. Finding land in the Chicago area that would work for a construction dealership in an ideal location is a difficult task. The Benck family finally decided on an 11 acre property that had sat vacant since 2008 when the car dealership closed. The dealership facility was in fairly good condition with a layout that could work so the Benck family, along with Barnes Architects of Elmhurst, chose to do a full renovation of the property and add on a shop.

“We took everything that we had learned from designing heavy equipment facilities and applied that to creating the Lisle headquarters,” said Steve Benck, President of West Side Tractor. “We focused on the needs of our customers and employees to create a space that not only functions with maximum efficiency, but is also comfortable and inviting and showcases the construction industry.”

Celebrating the History of Construction Equipment

The concept for the front of the building was a glass toy box with floor to ceiling glass windows. On the showroom floor, there are ten antique tractors on display. Each machine has a story that is significant to West Side Tractor, John Deere or represents a pivotal moment in the last 100 years of heavy equipment innovation. The Benck family, specifically Rich, Tom and Steve Benck, are passionate about restoring antique tractors and are excited to share their personal collection with the community. The showroom will be used for events and open to fellow tractor enthusiasts and to inspire the next generation to join the construction industry. Visitors can enjoy the stories of the equipment, including:

  • A 100-year-old 1920 Waterloo Boy, just a handful of these are left. The Waterloo marked John Deere’s entrance into the tractor market.
  • A 1959 Model 440 Loader Backhoe, one of the first machines that West Side Tractor Founder Rich Benck ever sold in this territory with a decal from the original Lisle, IL facility. This tractor was found sitting in a farmer’s barn in Joliet, IL in 2019.

Supporting West Side Tractor Customers

The Lisle facility was designed with customer needs on the forefront. With an easily accessible parts counter and curbside parts pickup, customers can get what they need on the go. The new 16 bay shop has six 5-ton and two 10-ton cranes which allow West Side Tractor technicians to perform services and repairs in a timely and efficient manner. Fluids are plumbed throughout the whole shop with reels in each bay. Each bay includes a new tool bench and paperless work station complete with laptops so technicians can easily run diagnostics, search John Deere portals, access records and update work order details as the work is being done. There are also four separate wash racks for cleaning.

The Lisle headquarters will also be West Side Tractor’s first John Deere certified rebuild facility. This includes a designated clean room with craning capabilities to rebuild engines and components for production class equipment.

Upstairs, there is a state-of-the-art training area that will be offered to customers to utilize. The West Side Tractor team can tailor customized presentations – from machine walk-arounds to safety or technology training sessions– all onsite, any time of the year.

A Home Away From Home for Employees

“We wanted to create a space that is representative of the talent and capabilities of our team,” said Diane Benck, VP of Operations. “Our employees spend the majority of their time each day with us so it was important to our family to provide an environment that not only sparks teamwork and creativity, but that employees have all the tools and resources they need to be as successful as possible in their role.”

Collaboration was a key part of the design. Corporate functions that are currently scattered between West Side Tractor branch locations will be transitioned in-house including the positioning division, fleet services, rental and used equipment. Collaboration is integral in creating customer solutions and brainstorm sessions. Employees have several areas throughout the building to meet and converse with customers and co-workers.

A Nod to the Past, Ready for the Future

The Lisle facility was also designed with the future in mind. For example, with the influx of online parts ordering, the facility has areas to adapt to a fulfillment warehouse concept. The Benck family is also continuing their commitment to diversifying the workforce. The Lisle facility has a female technician locker room and a nursing room for new mother’s transitioning back into the workforce.

There is also much more technology implemented throughout the headquarters, including large touchscreens in the service manager office that tracks and schedules all the jobs open in the shop by employee and a live map showing all field service vehicles on the road. There is also an interactive kiosk on the showroom floor that customers can utilize to search used equipment, send new product brochures to their emails, order parts, and explore historical West Side and John Deere content.

“Our previous Naperville store was special because every office, every service bay had a story or memory from our 58 year history. Our employees at the Naperville branch have been an extension of our family for a long time,” said Lauren Coffaro, third generation ownership. “But this new Lisle facility, this is for the future. This is a place where we can innovate and grow, add new products and expand our teams. It is representative of our commitment to our customers and partners to be the best heavy equipment customer service provider in the Midwest. This is an exciting chapter in the West Side Tractor legacy.”

With Creativity, Innovation and Care, Antunes Grows amid Pandemic

Antunes

CAROL STREAM, IL – At a time when good stories are hard to find, here’s one from the heart of DuPage County.

Headquartered in Carol Stream, Antunes is both a leading manufacturer of custom foodservice and water treatment solutions and a third-generation, family-owned business—a rare combination of global scope and family values.

Like virtually all businesses, Antunes was put to the test this spring when the pandemic swept across the globe, first affecting their China facility before arriving on the doorstep of their Carol Stream headquarters. The company, which serves the foodservice industry, was forced to briefly halt its operations. However, by adopting innovative technologies, pivoting to new market segments and investing in the well-being of their team members, Antunes has weathered the economic and public health crisis of 2020.

Now, the company is not only back on its feet. It’s hiring.

“Our business needs people, and people need jobs,” says Stephanie Allen, head of HR Operations at Antunes. “Just this week alone, we had four interviews and made three offers. We currently have over 22 openings for direct-hire positions. These are full-time, benefit-eligible positions.”

 Antunes  

Two of the keys to Antunes’ success amid the pandemic are its foresight and flexibility.

Even before COVID-19, Antunes saw that the foodservice industry was on the brink of a major technological evolution. Rather than waiting for the change to come, they made it happen. 

Antunes, which serves many of the world’s largest quick-service and fast-casual restaurants – as well as gas-station convenience stores, among other market segments – began investing in automated technologies well before the rest of the foodservice industry, which has often lagged behind other fields in adopting breakthrough tech. Today, the Antunes team envisions a “connected kitchen,” where everything from food temperature to hygiene is monitored through a network of sensors and analyzed by algorithms to maximize quality, safety and efficiency. To that end, Antunes acquired Storelynk in 2019, a brand that specializes in cloud-based analytics platforms and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for food vendors.

It’s true that Antunes manufactures equipment like toasters, steamers, grills and water treatment systems. But, with custom solutions that often integrate technology like automation and touchless dispensing (a hot product in 2020), quality toasters are far from the whole story.

“We’re a little different from other manufacturers,” says Anthony Muñoz, Global Marketing Manager of Antunes. “We really partner with our customers to create the right solution that fits their organization. That’s both from a physical standpoint, but also understanding their operations. Do they need the equipment to do certain things to fit their menu? Do they need it to operate at a different speed? What’s the volume of output?

“We have a lot of products, but they’re really custom solutions. The products change depending on who our customers are.”

That emphasis on custom solutions – as opposed to off-the-shelf products – has enabled Antunes to pivot quickly amid the pandemic and serve their clients’ rapidly changing needs. Many of their clients have managed to expand their customer base amid the pandemic by focusing on drive-thru, delivery and pickup capabilities. However, these businesses face a trio of challenges: They need an environment where team members can work safely; they need to minimize contact with food; and, at the same time, they need to produce just as much – or more – product as before. As a solutions provider, Antunes is able to work with companies like McDonald’s and Panera, which have distinct kitchen layouts and products, to design solutions for their unique challenges.

For example: This year, Antunes has ramped up production of its touchless dispensing systems. These devices automatically dispense different types of sauces – with varying viscosities and temperatures – to minimize employee contact with food. This product, like all Antunes products, can be customized to the clients’ unique foodservice environment, whether they need a compact unit, a device that’s integrated with their refrigeration system or another customized solution.

As the company expands their capabilities, Antunes is finding demand for their work in new markets—some of them surprising. Coffee shops, for example, can use the touchless dispensing systems to distribute various types of milk and milk substitutes. Convenience stores that want to do-away with messy condiment packets and hand-pump dispensers can use the touchless system for distributing ketchup and mustard.

Antunes isn’t limiting themselves to a single market, product line or solution. They’re flexible, and that’s allowed them to keep up with the rapidly changing foodservice industry – both before and during the pandemic – and expand into new markets.

Today, their manufacturing facility in Carol Stream – which, along with their innovation center in Crystal Lake, produces every product for Antunes’ domestic clients, including electronic components and even the products’ boxes – has been reconfigured to meet their clients’ new demands. That includes products like translucent shields and stands for universal hand-sanitizer.

Antunes

The other key to Antunes’ success has been the company’s ongoing investment in its people.

That story begins long before the pandemic. In fact, it goes all the way back to the early 20th Century, when the Antunes family immigrated from Portugal to the United States.

At the time, the family didn’t have many resources, but they wanted to provide the best for their son, August J. Antunes. From a young age, August had a passion for building things, and this passion came to define his life. After training in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Machinist, August started a family in Chicago – in fact, he met his wife, Virginia, on the first night of Basic Training – and, with the support of his growing family, founded the company that would one day become Antunes. The fledgling business had its big break when it partnered with McDonald’s in 1970, just as the fast-food empire began to expand globally. As McDonald’s grew, Antunes grew with it.

But some things never changed. Even as August’s company grew – its products eventually reaching more than 150 countries – it remained a family business committed to treating every team member like one of their own.  

As an employee at Antunes, the company goes above and beyond to care for your well-being. The Carol Stream headquarters has a cafeteria, where you’ll find fresh fruit and healthy snacks throughout the day; a company library filled with books related to professional development; and quiet rooms where employees can unwind. Team members and their families even have access to an on-site health center, created in partnership with Advocate. The center is staffed with a nurse practitioner and a medical assistant, and there is no co-pay and no pharmacy charges for team members enrolled in the company’s health insurance plan. Staff also benefit from an on-site fitness center, open during and after work hours, with treadmills, weights and elliptical machines, as well as on-site trainers and a golf simulator. At the end of the workday, employees will often meet at the fitness center for yoga and Zumba classes (prior to the pandemic).

In 2016, Antunes expanded, adding 55,000-SF to their Carol Stream facility, which is now 170,000-SF. The expansion created a dedicated space for the company’s maintenance apprenticeship program, which offers employees up to 100 hours of foundational coursework and 400 hours of specialized maintenance training, covering topics such as OSHA safety, blueprint reading, precision measurement and asset management. So far, more than 70 team members have completed the program.

“We’re a learning organization and a learning culture,” Stephanie says. “We want to ensure that our team members continue to develop, which is why we offer continued education and opportunities to advance within the organization.

“We invest heavily in our people, because we want the best for them.”

Giving back is baked into the culture of Antunes. Employees are encouraged to take paid time off to volunteer. Many team members donate time and/or money to Splash, a nonprofit organization that brings clean water and other essentials to children throughout the world. In 2011, Antunes named Splash their official corporate charity. So far, the company has raised more than half a million dollars for Splash through various initiatives and events, and they continue to manufacture the organization’s water filters in their Carol Stream facility. Splash, in turn, has installed more than 1,140 Antunes water filtration systems for people in need.

“Our team members are really motivated by our work with Splash, because they’ve seen the video footage and photography that comes back,” Anthony says. “They see the impact that it has on the kids, and they get moved by it.”

For all the reasons described above, Antunes was listed among the Chicago Tribune’s Top Workplaces in 2019 and was named the 2017 Family Business of the Year by Loyola University Chicago.

Antunes

As the COVID-19 epidemic accelerated in the spring of 2020, Antunes, like many businesses, was met with the dual challenges of keeping their employees safe while continuing to run their operation.

By the time the pandemic hit the U.S., Antunes had already experienced an early wave in China, where the company has a facility in Suzhou. The Antunes leadership decided early on to temporarily close their Carol Stream facility, even before the Illinois government effectively shut down the state. Office team members were told that they would temporarily work remote, while assembly and warehouse team members were given one week of paid time off as the company reconfigured production lines and shifted schedules, modelling their decisions based on successful practices of their colleagues in China.

Production lines and the cafeteria were reconfigured to allow for social distancing. PPE was made readily available. Every employee had their temperature taken upon arrival. A new shift was added, allowing employees on the production line to socially distance and team members with children to be home during school hours.

Some employees were temporarily furloughed. However, the company kept their on-site clinic open for all team members, including those furloughed, and provided additional resources and education.

After six weeks, Antunes began inviting furloughed employees to return to work.

“We gave team members an opportunity to return based on a schedule that worked for them and their family, but we were also supportive and understanding of their challenges,” Stephanie says. “Initially, there were people who weren’t ready to return. Jane and Glenn were really sensitive to that, and we put in processes and protocols to make sure people felt good about coming back.”

Some were hesitant to return to work because their children were participating in online learning during the fall, so Antunes worked with these team members to coordinate work schedules around school schedules.

“Our message was: We got this. We’re all going to be okay, and we’re going to get through this together.”

Today, all of the company’s furloughed employees have returned to work. And now, due to the company’s creativity, innovation and genuine care for their people, Antunes is on a path to growth and success.

In DuPage County, our businesses, people and institutions are working together to succeed today and create a better tomorrow. Click or tap here to learn more about DuPage.

In DuPage County, Scientists use Supercomputers and X-Rays to Tackle Coronavirus

Argonne National Laboratory

Originally Published by: Bisnow | Written by: Julia Troy, Bisnow Custom Content Writer

As the race for coronavirus therapies and a vaccine speeds up, the spotlight is on DuPage County, Illinois, and its two national laboratories — Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab — that have been working tirelessly to help the country’s fight against the virus.  

“Argonne is situated at the crossroads of not only DuPage County and Illinois, but America,” Argonne Laboratory Director Paul Kearns said. “We are closely located to multiple interstate highways and are a short drive to two international airports, which is critical for us as we conduct scientific collaborations across the nation and around the world.” 

Argonne National Laboratory, which is owned by the Department of Energy and operated by the University of Chicago, is the largest government-funded research and development laboratory in the Midwest, with an operating budget of just under $1B. Along with employing thousands of DuPage County residents, Argonne has awarded contracts to Illinois-based businesses for a total of over $116B, with more than $40M awarded to small businesses in the state. Now, Argonne is working with national and global labs to help stop this worldwide pandemic.

DuPage County is home to 19 accredited colleges and universities, and has the highest educational attainment in Illinois, with nearly one in five residents holding a graduate or professional degree.

This highly educated workforce has attracted several major businesses to the area, including Fortune 500 companies like Navistar and Dover Corp.

Bisnow sat down with Kearns to learn more about how Argonne is working to combat the coronavirus locally and globally and how its location in DuPage has contributed to its work.

Bisnow: It’s been reported that Argonne is fighting the coronavirus on multiple fronts. Can you tell me what that looks like?  

Kearns: Our research is laying the groundwork for potential coronavirus drug therapies and vaccines. The ultra-bright, high-energy X-rays provided by our Advanced Photon Source, which is essentially a stadium-sized X-ray microscope, allow us to view and understand the protein structures of the virus. Argonne researchers have determined nearly half of the detailed structures of COVID-19 that have been identified.​  

Along with that, Argonne is using artificial intelligence to screen billions of drug-like molecules. This AI-driven approach screens these compounds at least two orders of magnitude faster than traditional virtual screening. By using AI, Argonne can help reduce the current 18- to 24-month drug discovery time to two months or less. Additionally, Argonne scientists are integrating antimicrobial functions into N95 masks to expand their effectiveness or extend their service life​ while making them more comfortable, reusable and effective. 

Bisnow: On a more local level, how is Argonne working to help Illinois communities slow the spread of the virus?  

Kearns: With the help of Argonne’s supercomputers, scientists have been working with a highly accurate model of Chicago — down to every man, woman and child — simulating their behaviors, their times at home or at work, and who they associate with. Their actions played out over the course of an entire year.  

The model simulates the infection process, even simulating interactions of people at home. It is so detailed that scientists can ask this simulated population to do different things such as wear masks and practice social distancing. The city of Chicago, Cook County and state of Illinois all use this model to inform top leadership for decision-making to help combat the pandemic.  

Bisnow: Looking beyond the pandemic, what else is Argonne working on?

Kearns: Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Some things we are working on include our unique scientific user facilities, like the Advanced Photon Source and Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, which attract more than 7,000 visiting researchers per year. Both are updated with the latest technology and they conduct studies aiming to make transportation more efficient, treat emerging diseases like COVID-19 and construct safer buildings. 

Our battery technology already powers electric vehicles, and storage for the electric grid is our next goal. Meanwhile, our computer models simulate global and regional natural and man-made disaster scenarios, helping experts preemptively design responses to mitigate further devastation.

Bisnow: What do you like about being based in DuPage County? 

Kearns: Our location in DuPage positions us to lead technology commercialization for the entire Chicago region. We partner with local businesses and have helped thousands of companies and entrepreneurs bring new innovations to market. The surrounding suburban communities also provide our local employees with safe neighborhoods and good schools. Our prime location and beautiful campus are major assets in our retention and recruitment efforts.

We also work to give back to the community. We are a major regional employer that provides thousands of DuPage residents high-paying jobs and worthwhile careers. We buy from local merchants, and we host thousands of national and international visitors annually, who stay at nearby hotels and shop at local small businesses. 

Our collaborative research attracts even more businesses and economic activity to DuPage County.  

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and Choose DuPage. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.  

For a list of resources related to coronavirus or COVID-19, please click here.

As transportation & logistics operations face mounting pressure, DuPage County offers critical strategic advantages

As the economic aftershocks of COVID-19 reverberate through the global economy, transportation and logistics operations face mounting pressure to meet consumer demand, deliver essential goods and find cost-effective solutions. Meanwhile, these companies must contend with an uncertain future and a volatile market, where demand in some sectors skyrockets even as it plummets in others.

Now, transportation and logistics businesses are rethinking where and how they operate, and many are finding a home that offers the strategic advantages they need at the heart of the United States’ transportation infrastructure.

A Perfect Storm: The Pandemic Complicates an Already-Stressed Supply Chain

Before COVID-19, global demand on the supply chain was rising for decades, fueled by the rapidly growing e-commerce sector, rising populations, advances in technology, changing consumer and business preferences, and increases in standards of living, among other factors.

Take the U.S., for example. Since 1998, the country’s e-commerce sector has grown, often exponentially, year over year. As a result, U.S. intermodal volume – the total volume of standardized shipping containers that can be interchanged between multiple transportation modes, like cargo ships and freight trains – increased by more than 170%. This led to a boom in industrial development, as new warehouses, manufacturing facilities, ports, cargo centers, railways and other infrastructures were built to support the growing industry. In addition to the increase in volume, e-commerce conditioned consumers to expect deliveries in less time, presenting the industry with a dual challenge: Move more, and move faster.

This trend is not unique to the United States. During the same period, developed nations throughout the world experienced similar growth in e-commerce and other sectors, and previously undeveloped countries began to join them. As nations like China continued to develop – and more consumers, with increased spending power, participated in e-commerce – sharp increases in demand followed, in a pattern of economic growth, increased demand and further growth. Analysts expect this trend to intensify over the coming decade, even as the global economy faces the economic fallout of the pandemic and the transportation and logistics industry contends with emerging challenges.

COVID-19 has led to a devastating loss of human life. Meanwhile, its economic aftershocks have created unprecedented volatility within the transportation and logistics industry, with some sectors experiencing spikes in demand even as others plummet. For example, at the beginning of 2020, truck volumes surged by nearly 30 percent, and last-mile deliveries increased more than ten times over. However, as the GDP plummeted by a historic 32.9% in the second quarter, truck volumes fell with it, and other modes of transportation saw even steeper declines. U.S. passenger air travel – which is responsible for moving people as well as cargo, as goods are transported in the belly of passenger aircraft – fell by about 75% from the beginning of the year to April.

Now, as some sectors begin to see a resurgence in demand and certain transportation modes become available, businesses are discovering that the nature of their industry is changing.

<transportation & logistics - rail

An Answer to the Challenge

The combined pressures of the decades-long increase in global demand and the volatility brought on by the pandemic has forced transportation and logistics operations to become more flexible, efficient and cost-effective. Consumer demand is expected to rise exponentially in the coming decade, and several emergent factors – such as the rapid and reliable delivery of medical supplies and other essential goods (including vaccines, in the near future) – further stress the supply chain.

The industry is facing unprecedented challenges, at a time when it is interwoven in nearly every function of human life and society. Families, communities and economies throughout the world depend on supply chains that can deliver—especially in times of crisis.

To continue to meet consumer demand, businesses must locate their operations in a place that answers the complex challenges they face today and positions them to meet the demands of tomorrow.

Now, many of these companies are finding the strategic advantages they need in DuPage County. DuPage is located just west of Chicago, at the heart of an international freight gateway, offering convenient access to the region’s multiple transportation modes, as well as key advantages unique to DuPage.

Let’s take a closer look.

Where Water Meets Road, Rail and Sky: The Strategic Location of DuPage County

Located at the convergence of critical waterways, interstates, airports and railways, Northeastern Illinois is considered by many to be North America’s preeminent international freight gateway. Today, one fourth of all U.S. freight originates, terminates, or passes through the region. That’s approximately $564 billion in goods each year, weighing some 269 million tons, and includes half of the nation’s rail freight and nearly one-third of its air cargo.

The region is a critical link in the national and global supply chain, and its access to multi-modal transportation means that, when an area of the transportation infrastructure is disrupted – as we have seen during COVID-19 – operations in the region can continue to move products through other modes. The region’s flexibility is key to the transportation and logistics industry’s ability to deliver essential goods in times of crisis. For example, when passenger air travel dipped by 75% in the U.S. at the peak in the pandemic, the cargo typically transported by passenger flights could be averted to other transportation modes, like waterways and rail. Of course, that can only be done quickly and efficiently if operations have convenient access to multiple modes of transportation, as they do in DuPage County and the surrounding region.

Clearly, the Northeastern Illinois region has a tremendous economic impact on the Midwest and the entire U.S.—as well as countries, companies and people throughout the world. In the aftermath of COVID-19, the area including DuPage County has an essential role in strengthening and re-imagining the nation’s supply chain, offering multiple transportation modes and providing a strategic, flexible and cost-effective home for businesses.

transportation & logistics - air

Regional Highlights:
  • As mentioned above, operations in the region have access to multiple modes of transportation. This allows for more flexibility and efficiency in all times—however, it’s particularly important during times of crisis. When certain modes of transportation are disrupted, operations in the region can continue to move goods, including essential supplies, via other transportation modes. The region’s access to multiple transportation modes – via water, rail, road and sky – makes it a critical link in the global supply chain.
  • Located 40 miles from Chicago, the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, North America’s largest inland port, provides direct access to the BNSF Logistics Park and Union Pacific Intermodal Terminal, as well as a 6,400-acre intermodal complex. Tenants, on average, save 50% on operating costs due to the transportation savings of locating on campus.
  • The Port of Chicago offers the only direct maritime connection from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mississippi River. Today, more than 19 million tons of goods are moved through the port.
  • The region offers access to more than a thousand miles of navigable waterways throughout Illinois, with more than 100 miles of navigable waterways within the Northeast.
  • Northeastern Illinois is home to three international airports: O’Hare, Midway and the DuPage Airport. O’Hare is responsible for moving nearly one third of the nation’s total cargo, valued at $170 billion annually. With infrastructure improvements over the coming decades, O’Hare’s cargo campus will allow up to 50% more cargo and freight traffic.
  • Seven interstates and some 30,000 miles of highways connect operations in the region to cities throughout the Midwest and the entire continental U.S. In less than eight hours, trucks can travel from Northeastern Illinois to 28 of the top 30 cities in the Midwest.
  • The region is home to one of the nation’s busiest rail gateways, with more than 3,900 miles of rail. The gateway is North America’s main interchange point between western and eastern railroads. Today, 50% of all U.S. rail freight passes through the region, which offers freight access to more than 80% of the continental United States in 72 hours or less.
  • Northeastern Illinois accounts for about half of all domestic intermodal container traffic.
  • More than a billion square feet of industrial development support the region’s freight and manufacturing activity.

transportation & logistics in DuPage County

The DuPage Difference

While Northeastern Illinois is home to seven counties, DuPage County offers unique strategic advantages that make it the premier choice for the transportation and logistics industry.

Just 20 miles west of Chicago, DuPage offers convenient access to all of the regional transportation amenities described above, including North America’s largest inland port, three international airports, seven interstates, the nation’s busiest rail gateway, and more. In addition, DuPage offers unique strategic advantages for businesses.

transportation & logistics - interstate

The DuPage Difference:
  • A strategic location just 20 miles west of Chicago, DuPage offers convenient access to the region’s international transportation infrastructure, as described above.
  • DuPage is home to 127 square miles of prime real estate that will soon offer direct access to O’Hare through the region’s Western Access initiative.
  • Local businesses benefit from a business-friendly climate with low commercial property taxes and a highly skilled and educated workforce.
  • Our residents enjoy a high quality of life, with easy commutes, excellent schools, numerous recreational amenities and more space for work and life.
  • DuPage County’s highly desirable commercial properties offer space for large industrial facilities and flexible leases.
  • Our collaborative local leadership is committed to the success of your business and our communities.

In a challenging and uncertain time, DuPage County offers businesses a strategic home, where they can quickly and efficiently get their goods to market through the region’s access to multiple transportation modes, while benefitting from DuPage’s unique advantages and business-friendly climate.

We all depend on transportation and logistics operations for the goods we need, as well as the health of the national and global economy. DuPage provides the comprehensive solution that these operations need to be cost-effective, flexible and efficient, so the industry can continue to meet the demands of today as we work together toward a better tomorrow.

Click or tap here to learn more about transportation, logistics and warehousing in DuPage County.

Sources:

Intersect Illinois

Statista

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)

McKinsey & Company

“CenterPoint offering timely cost savings with North America’s largest inland port” by Paul Scott Abbott, American Journal of Transportation (2020)

What the Toilet Paper Shortage Taught Us about the Supply Chain

Supply Chain

COVID-19 revealed hard truths about the supply chain. Now, transportation, logistics and warehousing businesses are flocking to DuPage County, an area just west of Chicago with low population density and desirable properties, strategically located in the heart of a global freight gateway.

We will never forget the great toilet paper shortage of 2020.

It was one of the stranger side effects of COVID-19. In the early spring, as the pandemic reached the United States and the tremendous scope of the crisis came to light, consumers began panic-buying: hand gel, food, soap, face masks, surface cleaner. And, of course, TP.

For weeks, toilet paper was a scarce commodity, as were other essential goods. Shelves were picked clean. Suppliers fell behind. And while this scarcity created anxiety among consumers – and called for some truly ‘creative’ solutions – the phenomenon revealed a painful but important truth.

The supply chain wasn’t ready. It wasn’t good enough. Sure, it could handle normal market fluctuations. But as soon as it was put under extreme stress, it couldn’t take it. It was as if a bridge engineered for small cars suddenly had to bear the weight of a semi. It broke. And we all had to live with the consequences.

In 2020, we have seen just how critical it is to get supplies to the market in a timely and efficient manner.

Our operations must be flexible and reliable in times of crisis, when demand soars overnight and our work becomes radically more complex. In light of these hard-earned lessons, one area has emerged as the premier global business location for transportation, logistics and warehousing. DuPage County.

Just 20 miles west of Chicago, DuPage County is located at the heart of one of the world’s largest freight gateways. The region offers key strategic advantages:

  • 2 international airports: O’Hare and Midway, with O’Hare responsible for moving nearly one third of the nation’s total cargo, valued at $170 billion
  • 127 square miles of prime real estate that will soon offer direct access to O’Hare through the region’s Western Access initiative
  • 7 major interstates
  • 28 of the top 30 cities in the Midwest within an 8-hour drive
  • The nation’s busiest rail gateway
  • North America’s largest inland port

The strategic location means that businesses in DuPage can quickly, efficiently and reliably get their product anywhere in the world. But that’s only half the story. In addition to a strategic location, DuPage has desirable properties; a highly skilled and educated workforce; a business-friendly environment; low population-density; low COVID-19 case rate; a high quality of life; and a rich history of manufacturing. All of these factors intersect in DuPage: the premier global business location for transportation, logistics and warehousing.

DuPage has what businesses need to succeed today and respond rapidly to an uncertain tomorrow. And that’s good for all of us, because we’re all connected to the supply chain. A good supply chain means food on our families’ tables, medical supplies in our hospitals—and, yes, TP on our grocery store shelves.

Tap here to learn more about doing business in DuPage.

Department of Energy selects Argonne to lead national quantum center

Q-NEXT

Q-NEXT will tackle next-generation quantum science challenges through a public-private partnership, ensuring U.S. leadership in an economically crucial arena.

Article by: Argonne National Laboratory | See Original Article 

Recently the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the creation of five new Quantum Information Science Research Centers led by DOE National Laboratories across the country. One of the national centers, Q-NEXT, is led by DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory.

Q-NEXT brings together nearly 100 world-class researchers from three national laboratories, 10 universities and 10 leading U.S. technology companies with the single goal of developing the science and technology to control and distribute quantum information. These activities, along with a focus on rapid commercialization of new technologies, will support the emerging ​quantum economy” and ensure that the U.S. remains at the forefront in this rapidly advancing field.

The world is on the cusp of a technological revolution. Through the collaborative efforts of the national laboratories, universities and companies actively involved in Q-NEXT, we will develop instrumentation to explore and control the quantum properties of matter and translate these discoveries into technologies that benefit society,” said David Awschalom, Q-NEXT director, senior scientist at Argonne, Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange. ​This partnership is essential to create a domestic supply chain of new quantum materials and devices for a robust quantum economy.”

Q-NEXT will also create two national foundries for quantum materials, one at Argonne and one at DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Together, these foundries will act as a single ​quantum factory,” producing a robust supply chain of standardized materials and devices that will support both known and yet-to-be-discovered quantum-enabled applications. It will also create a first-ever National Quantum Devices Database for the standardization of next-generation quantum devices.

The world is on the cusp of a technological revolution. Through the collaborative efforts of the national laboratories, universities and companies actively involved in Q-NEXT, we will develop instrumentation to explore and control the quantum properties of matter and translate these discoveries into technologies that benefit society.”  — David Awschalom, Q-NEXT director

New technology spawned by Q-NEXT will accelerate U.S. prosperity and security,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns. ​As part of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, Argonne is proud to be the lead laboratory for Q-NEXT in this important endeavor bringing together world-leading experts and the wealth of scientific resources at national labs, academia and industry.”

Q-NEXT will be funded by the Department of Energy at $115 million over five years, with $15 million in fiscal year 2020 dollars and outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.  Additional funding from partner organizations totals $93 million. The State of Illinois General Assembly also directed $200 million in FY 2020 funding through HB62 to develop infrastructure for quantum science and technology, which will support Q-NEXT through collaborative efforts. With these resources and the strength of private-public partnerships, Q-NEXT will focus on three core quantum technologies: 

  • Communication for the transmission of quantum information across long distances including quantum repeaters, enabling the establishment of ​unhackable” networks for information transfer
  • Sensors that achieve unprecedented sensitivities with transformational applications in physics, materials and life sciences
  • Processing and utilizing ​test beds” both for quantum simulators and future full-stack universal quantum computers with applications in quantum simulations, cryptanalysis and logistics optimization

Q-NEXT will also train the next-generation quantum workforce through innovative training programs with industry, academia and government to ensure continued U.S. scientific and economic leadership in this rapidly advancing field.

The fundamental discoveries and technological advances enabled by Q-NEXT will expedite the coming quantum technology revolution and build the quantum workforce of the future. This is a very exciting time,” said JoAnne Hewett, Q-NEXT deputy director and associate laboratory director for fundamental physics and chief research officer at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Argonne and SLAC are joined in the collaboration by 21 partners that are embedded in all aspects of Q-NEXT: participation in each of the scientific thrusts, governance and development of the center strategy and training of the next generation of the quantum workforce. The collaboration among laboratories, companies and universities is crucial to speed discovery, develop quantum applications and prepare a quantum-ready workforce. Q-NEXT’s partners are:

  • Applied Materials
  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • Boeing
  • California Institute of Technology
  • ColdQuanta
  • Cornell University
  • General Atomics
  • HRL Laboratories
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • Keysight Technologies
  • Microsoft
  • Northwestern University
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • The Pennsylvania State University
  • Quantum Opus
  • SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison

About Q-NEXT

Q-NEXT, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Quantum Information Science Research Center led by Argonne National Laboratory, brings together nearly 100 world-class researchers from 3 national laboratories, 10 universities, and 10 leading U.S. technology companies to develop the science and technology to control and distribute quantum information. Q-NEXT will create two national foundries for quantum materials and devices, develop networks of sensors and secure communications systems, establish simulation and network testbeds, and train a next-generation quantum-ready workforce to ensure continued U.S. scientific and economic leadership in this rapidly advancing field. For more information, visit https://​www​.​q​-next​.org.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.

Click here to download the fact sheet.

Q2 Economic Indicators Report

Choose DuPage Economic Indicators Report

Choose DuPage has released its Second Quarter Economic Indicators Report.

Report Highlights:

  • DuPage County’s unemployment rate was 12.6% in May; down from 14.8% in April. DuPage has the lowest unemployment rate in the region.
  • In May, 83% of those laid off said it was temporary.
  • Unemployment claims dropped 50% from April to May.
  • At the end of Q2, there were over 55,000 job opportunities posted in DuPage County.
  • The office vacancy rate remained at 13.8% in Q2, slightly lower than it was during the same time last year.
  • The industrial vacancy rate dropped to 6%, from 6.5% during Q1.

Click here to download the Q2 2020 Economic Indicators Report.