Opinion editorial by: John A. Carpenter | President & CEO of Choose DuPage
Through the Choose DuPage to Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance, public-and private-sector leaders continue to work together to ensure a business-friendly environment. In 2019, Choose DuPage will be focusing on five key areas to further capitalize on our unique position to ensure continued success for economic development growth in DuPage County:
- Commercializing Ideas at Argonne National Laboratory. Choose DuPage is actively turning the work of the scientific dream team at Argonne National Laboratory into economic profit for the region. We have been working to attract companies that would best benefit from its world-class facilities and research and have also taken a great leap forward by including Argonne in our plans for Innovation DuPage, our new business incubator and accelerator. By pioneering advancements in energy and predictive medicine, Argonne is paving a path for DuPage’s prosperity.
- Solving the “Last Mile-First Mile” Commute. Any company that calls the suburbs home is challenged to find ways to alleviate commute issues for their workforce. While the three Metra lines serve DuPage County, many office buildings are not conveniently located to these public transit options. To keep industry on the move, we have been actively working to tackle this “first and last mile” commute problem. Choose DuPage has partnered with InnovaEV, Hamilton Partners, and the Village of Itasca to launch a pilot program, using electric vehicles to transport employees from the Itasca train station to the office development Hamilton Lakes. We are also exploring options including enhanced pedestrian walkways and bike share programs with local business. The ultimate goal is to provide a dependable, cost effective commuting solution—and to attract the millennial workforce from downtown Chicago.
- Developing and Encouraging Growth at DuPage Business Center. The DuPage Business Center is a prime example of Choose DuPage’s commitment to innovative development opportunities. Choose DuPage has worked diligently over the past two years to successfully secure interest. In October, the DuPage Airport Authority announced new facilities for Suncast Corp., Greco and Sons Inc. and Norix Group Inc. will be built at the 800-acre campus south of Roosevelt Road, in addition to two other pending projects. In total, the five projects would amount to more than $24 million in purchased land and encompass roughly 170 acres. The campus is ideal for a variety of businesses, and is poised to bring yet another 1.1 million square feet of manufacturing and distribution in 2019.
- Facilitating Western Access to O’Hare Airport. Choose DuPage continues its work with the Illinois Tollway and regional public-and private-sector leaders to establish the Western Access O’Hare corridor as a premier global business location. Providing meaningful access to O’Hare from the western suburbs will transform the region—saving $145M in travel delays; creating over 13,000 jobs annually during the project; boost local tax revenues by $29M annually; and most important, lay the groundwork for the creation of 65,000 jobs by 2040. Illinois Route 390 now connects from Lake Street to Illinois route 83 and Choose DuPage is working together with the Illinois Tollway and DuPage County towards the completion of a critical bypass connecting I-90 and I-294. This project is vital to the future of our region and will remain a priority for Choose DuPage until it is complete.
- Enhancing Global Competitiveness. Foreign-Direct Investment (FDI) is a powerful engine for economic growth and prosperity—it creates jobs, spurs innovation, and drives exports. DuPage County is home to over 1,000 locations of foreign-owned firms, representing 43 countries, which make a significant contribution to our economy. In 2018, Choose DuPage has been dedicated to fostering foreign-direct investment in the county and has partnered with organizations like the Chicago Regional Growth Corporation and Chicago Metro Exports to improve our competitiveness on the global stage and engage in international trade. Fostering further foreign-direct investment and facilitating export initiatives in our community continues to be a priority in 2019.
Home to nearly 40,000 businesses and 700,000 jobs, DuPage continues to attract a variety of industries that shape its booming economy including manufacturing, technology and healthcare. New businesses are moving to make DuPage County their home, while local industries continue to expanding their footprint. By investing in new ideas and nurturing the framework of industry, DuPage continues to serve as an example for economic growth and development.
As we kick off 2019, I am excited to explore new ways Choose DuPage can continue to work towards expanding the regional economy and showcase our area as a proven, premier global business location.