New Report: Chicagoland’s Green Economy is Growing

Climate change presents enormous challenges for communities across the globe. At the same time, confronting these challenges has opened the door to exciting new possibilities.

As governments and businesses build more sustainable systems and reduce carbon emissions, a new type of economy has emerged, one focused on innovation with purpose.

We call these ‘green economies.’ According to World Business Chicago, a green economy is one in which “sustainability, environmental responsibility, and social well-being” are central tenants. Profit and competition are still at their core, but the ultimate goal is to benefit the community and the world at large.

In these economies, innovation is approached through the lens of social and environmental responsibility. Supported by policy initiatives and public education, green economies adopt sustainable practices while developing clean energy and climate-related technologies that drive decarbonization.

Today, Chicagoland is uniquely positioned to lead climate change and clean-energy efforts. Our diverse industries, talent pipeline, strategic location, and vibrant startup culture make the region a catalyst for cross-industry collaboration and innovation at scale. Now, the Chicagoland green economy is growing faster than most other U.S. metro areas.

Want to learn more? A new report by World Business Chicago goes in-depth on this emerging economy, examining key factors driving the growth, as well as challenges and opportunities ahead.

According to the report:

  • Chicagoland’s diverse green economy is growing rapidly. Since 2016, the region has experienced 180% growth in green economy output and 80% growth in green transitioning output. And the growth is expected to continue. Today, Chicago-area companies hold about 788 patents related to clean energy and climate change technology, with another 150 pending.
  • Our green economy is creating jobs, and we have the workforce to fill them. In 2022, Chicagoland’s green transitioning economy employed more than 500,000 people. The region is currently ranked fifth out of the top ten U.S. metro areas for employment in the green economy.
  • Local startups are driving the innovation. Roughly 25% of all clean and climate tech investments in Chicagoland were investments in climate tech startups, the highest proportion when compared to the Midwest, U.S., and world. These startups are key to developing innovative solutions that incumbent corporations can use to decarbonize at scale.
  • Our talent pipeline gives us an edge. Chicagoland’s numerous universities and research institutions are producing a diverse pool of graduates with the interdisciplinary skills needed to produce new technology solutions.

To learn more about Chicagoland’s emerging green economy, download the full World Business Chicago report.