Author: Lake County Partners

Lake County’s Export Exposure is Huge

Did you know that Lake County, Illinois is a large destination for international trade and foreign investment? In 2020, it was the second largest exporting county in Illinois, with an export revenue of a whopping $7 billion. In fact, Lake County’s exports account for 13% of the state’s total exporting in export values.

Lake County’s prominence in Illinois’ exporting is all the more important given the state’s domestic role as an exporting powerhouse. With a total export value of over $53 billion, Illinois is the fifth largest exporting state in the country, and number one in the Midwest. Illinois companies now export to 213 countries, with the most engagement in Canada, Mexico, Germany, Australia, China, Brazil, the UK and Japan.

Importantly, small and medium-sized businesses are driving the success; they make up 90% of the state’s exporters and account for 25% of the state’s total export value. The impact is huge, with direct exporting accounting for nearly 10% of the Gross State Product (GSP). This means that the size of your business doesn’t have to stand in the way of your company’s exporting potential—especially if you are operating in Lake County and can take advantage of the network of support and many exporting resources at your fingertips.


Though your ability to sell goods within the country shouldn’t be underestimated, it’s important to remember that 96% of the world’s consumers are outside of the U.S. and 70% of the world’s purchasing power is outside of the country too.

There is very likely a built-in global demand for your product, and tapping into these new markets will give you the opportunity to grow sales and revenue. Including an international component in your business strategy is almost certain to give your company an edge when it comes to growth and long-term viability.

Exporting also allows your company to stabilize seasonal markets and sales fluctuations. As your domestic business ebbs and flows, you can use exporting as a tool to recover local losses. In diversifying your customer base and portfolio, you can mitigate risks and enhance your company’s stability. Likewise, you can use exporting to leverage the life cycle of a product; products that are considered mature stage in this country might still be growing elsewhere.


Lake County businesses benefit from the services and support offered through us and partners like the Illinois Small Business Development and International Trade Center (ITC) at the College of Lake County. ITC is well-equipped to quickly assess your company at no cost and determine exporting opportunities. Through the ITC, you not only get personalized counseling and training, but you can also receive assistance processing documentation, automating trade leads and linking to key trade representatives. Connect with the ITC directly here, or contact us here to see how we can work together to prepare your business for the global stage.

The Top 10 Reasons to Locate Your Life Science Business in Lake County, Illinois

There are countless reasons that Lake County, Illinois leads in life science. We’re breaking down the top 10 to show why the area’s huge concentration of industry leaders, enormous pool of talent, and infrastructure of support can help you make the most of your business. By the time you get to the end of the list, feel free to contact us and learn more. We can help you get settled in among Lake County’s impressive roster of globally-recognized brands, mid-sized companies and innovative startups.


Consistently ranked in the top ten nationwide in life science clusters, Lake County is home to many of the world’s leading brands, including AbbVie, Abbott, Baxter, Horizon Therapeutics, and more.

Chicago’s northern suburbs also host the headquarters or major operations for many international leaders including Lundbeck, Astellas, Fresenius Kabi, and Takeda.

Include younger start-ups like Jaguar Gene Therapy and Nexus Pharma, and you have a vibrant life science ecosystem.


Approximately 80% of the life science jobs in the state of Illinois are located in Lake County. With over 120 companies, including 10 major corporate headquarters, the life science industry is Lake County’s largest economic sector and a huge draw for highly-skilled professionals in pursuit of jobs.

Chicago’s northern suburbs also have a strong base of support in contract research organizations, specialty manufacturers and a wide variety of professional service firms with deep experience serving life science clients.


Lake County’s highly-integrated educational system anticipates business needs. Students study at nationally-ranked public high schools, earn STEM credentials at the College of Lake County and Lake Forest College, and go on to receive doctoral degrees in an array of disciplines including neuroscience, molecular biology, pharmacy, medicine and more.

Because Illinois is one of the top states in the country producing science and engineering-focused bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, students don’t go far before returning to Lake County to pursue a rewarding career.


With more than 5.6 million people within a commute radius from Lake County, and 40,000 of them working in life science, you have access to the deepest talent pool in the Midwest, which includes a crop of newly minted college graduates and seasoned professionals exploring new opportunities.

In fact, Chicagoland is the #1 destination for BIG TEN university graduates. The 14 universities in the BIG TEN (we know, don’t ask), graduate thousands of students each year with life science-related degrees.


Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science is renowned for fostering innovation. The school’s 97-acre campus includes a new Innovation and Research Park designed to fuel collaboration between researchers and industry. State-of-the-art simulation labs, coupled with cutting-edge clinics, regular workshops and the Helix 51 incubator set a nurturing stage for start-ups, early-stage companies and international businesses looking for a “soft landing” in the Midwest.

Beyond Rosalind Franklin, young companies can tap into the resources available to the greater Chicago-Milwaukee market, which is ranked #1 in the Midwest for startups based on the region’s stellar activity, access to resources and nurturing business climate.


Chicagoland’s robust life science sector recently landed it on the top 10 locations in the country for biopharma activity according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. Importantly, its strength lies in funding for life science, patents awarded, dedicated lab space and number of industry jobs. Lake County’s prime location ensures that you can easily tap into life science talent and assets from across the entire Chicago-Milwaukee metro region.


Illinois’ life science industry has enjoyed considerable growth, from legacy Lake County companies such as Abbott, AbbVie, and Horizon Therapeutics, to startups spun out of the state’s research universities.

Hundreds of thousands of square feet of new wet lab space are currently under development—much of it in close proximity to Lake County—and the state has paved the way for new high-tech facilities by launching a $9 million capital program aimed at expanding access to space and encouraging industry breakthroughs.


Lake County’s location between Chicago and Milwaukee, along the I-94 corridor, provides convenient one-day access to a large swath of North American industry. When it comes to attracting talent, strong multimodal connectivity makes recruiting and commuting around the region a snap.

Three nearby international airports—O’Hare, Mitchell International, and Midway—provide global access, while executives enjoy the perks of full-service private aircrafts at Waukegan National Airport.


Lake County’s large population enjoys a wide variety of communities and housing options. Local municipalities are regularly ranked among the top in the region and the nation because of the high-quality schools, recreational opportunities, transportation, healthcare access, fiscal stability and leadership. Here, you can have the career you want, and the life you want.

Simply put, people enjoy Lake County both in and outside of the office, which is why so many employees choose to live locally.


With a population of roughly 700,000, Lake County has close to 150,00 foreign-born community members. Chicagoland regularly ranks among the most diverse in the country, which brings a wide variety of valuable perspectives and experience to the table to drive your business forward.

The Secret to Lake County’s Manufacturing Success

The pandemic, lockdowns, and rapid re-opening have impacted nearly all aspects of life since March of 2020, and the ripple effect now has advanced manufacturers grappling with an increase in demand for talent, logistics, space and technology. In Lake County, businesses benefit from a built-in network of support that has enabled them to capitalize on renewed needs for packaging, PPE, testing and healthcare supplies.

Existing companies are expanding, new businesses are flocking in, and there is increased optimism for revenue and hiring growth. Over the last two years alone, manufacturers in Lake County have added 520 new factory jobs and invested approximately $180 million in land, buildings, equipment and more. As a result, it has been a banner year for local manufacturing.

Lake County’s flurry of business activity in general, and in advanced manufacturing in particular, bodes well for the back half of the year. Because of Lake County’s unique position at the crossroads of life science and manufacturing, local businesses such as Abbott, AbbVie, Walgreens, Pfizer and so many others find themselves literally leading the fight against the ever-changing conditions of the pandemic.

Lake County’s strong workforce will continue to set it apart when it comes to business leaders’ decision-making and ability to respond to changing consumer preferences. So too will its built-in network of support. Lake County’s public and private leaders alike understand that the continued prosperity and future success of businesses is directly linked to people and skills. They also know that businesses benefit from the size and diversity of the local labor pool, which boasts of a wide range of races, ethnicities and languages.

This is why Lake County Partners works closely with the College of Lake County, Workforce Development, Lake County Tech Campus, IMEC and others to develop and nurture talent and promote a safe, fair and inclusive home in which people of all backgrounds can comfortably work. As a result, majors offered at local educational institutions align with Lake County’s most in-demand jobs. Students complete affordable, award-winning career programs and graduate with in-demand skills that they can hone through countless training and certification options. Most importantly, talent is made the top priority, ensuring a huge competitive advantage for existing and new businesses looking to grow. If your company is considering future growth opportunities in Lake County, look no further than Lake County Partners to quickly assemble the resources that you need to meet pent-up demand.

Six Months of Success

2021 kicked off with a bang, and it’s been going strong ever since. As we approach the midway point of the year, we are reflecting on the top successful projects of the first six months. Though the COVID-19 epidemic lingers, the outlook is extremely positive. Illinois has transitioned into Phase 5, marking a return to business as usual. Though there are still challenges ahead for some of our smaller businesses as they adapt to changing consumer preferences, we forecast that government relief will continue to expedite the recovery.

The most recent unemployment rate for the county tracks at 5.7%, signifying huge progress and indicating that there are more than 42,000 people working the county than at this time last year. Though the labor force is still down from our pre-pandemic peak, we expect it to continue to rebound in the fall as school and childcare operations normalize.

Along with our partners, we remain laser-focused on ensuring that companies have what they need to safely resume operations. We have spent the first half of the year building on the tremendous progress that we are seeing in Lake County’s key industries; in particular, there has been a boom in manufacturing and life sciences in response to the pandemic. Many prominent corporate leaders have stepped up to meet local needs, and they are also behind the very technologies that are now benefitting the global community. It is with great pride that we survey the top accomplishments of the first six months of 2021:


After finalizing a deal to buy the 70-acre former Takeda property in Deerfield, the company unveiled its exciting plans for the space and began welcoming employees back to a cutting-edge office.


This exciting project came to fruition thanks to collaboration among the Village of Gurnee, Illinois DCEO and Lake County Partners, setting the stage for a new manufacturing facility and creating 25 new jobs.


Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science celebrated this exciting milestone for its $50 million, 100,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art facility that has cemented Lake County’s position as a leader in life sciences. The park will accelerate Rosalind Franklin’s nationally-recognized research and support collaboration among academics, scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs. The first commercial tenant, Inspirotec, was founded by a former scientist from Abbott. Several new biomedical companies, including Covira Surgical, Voyant Diagnostics and Quantitative Neural Analysis, have also signed on to the facility’s Helix 51 incubator—a space that provides state-of-the-art laboratories for faculty and commercial startups, as well as small to mid-sized national and international biotech firms.


This long-standing Lake County manufacturer celebrated the completion of its new headquarters in Antioch, paving the way for new jobs and anticipated growth that will increase its workforce 10% each year for the next 5 – 10 years.


In an inspiring partnership between Horizon Therapeutics, Lundbeck, Takeda, iBIO, the Health Department and Lake County Partners, two new community vaccine clinics were established to meet community needs and ensure vaccine equity. Baxter International also partnered with the Health Department to meet vaccine needs in Round Lake Beach. Baxter has also partnered with MedTech to support a new innovation hub that will accelerate medical device startups.


A $250 million dollar renovation on this property to transform it into a regional lifestyle center has made the project one of the biggest and most anticipated projects in Vernon Hills history.


The College of Lake County (CLC) announced the launch of its new world-class Advanced Technology Center in Gurnee that will further serve the manufacturing community by providing career pathways. CLC also announced its partnership with MxD to expand its apprenticeship program and create a manufacturing talent pipeline suited to future business needs.


A $2 million investment made this new facility possible, ensuring that the airport complies with strict Department of Homeland Security requirements and will be able to receive international flights for the next 20 years.


Lake County earned the highly-coveted Gold designation from the national SolSmart program, making it faster and easier for businesses and homes in unincorporated areas to transition to solar energy.


Lake County companies continued to rake in the praise in national rankings. Mesirow Financial, Horizon Therapeutics, First Bank of Highland Park and RevenueWell were recognized on the Crain’s Chicago Business Best Places to Work List. Great Place to Work also congratulated AbbVie, Lundbeck and Horizon Therapeutics for being at the top of the healthcare and biopharma industries and singled out Abbott, Alight, Lundbeck, Takeda, Zoro, Synergy Flavors and Horizon Therapeutics as being among the best workplaces in the region.


The final accomplishment that we’d like to draw your attention to is one that we are particularly excited about, as it is certain to pave the way for a very busy back-half of the year. We received a $110,000 federal grant to lead the development of a new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) that will create jobs, fuel collaboration and strengthen Lake County’s economy. Work is already underway to move the initiative forward, and we expect that it will conclude in early 2022 with strategic recommendations that we will move quickly to implement.


Over the past two years, Lake County Partners has been directly involved in creating 2,770 new jobs, retaining 1,478 new jobs and fueling more than $290 million in direct capital investments. We look forward to building on our momentum, and sharing our continued success with the local community.