Author: Lake County Partners

Empowering Lake County Students: A Path To Success

As the landscape of education evolves, so too does the responsibility to equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the workforce. In Lake County, Illinois, Grayslake Community High School District 127 (D127) has been at the forefront of pioneering a groundbreaking endorsement process aimed at preparing students for successful careers. As a result of D127’s innovative administrative leaders, other schools in the county look to follow suit, the initiative is gaining momentum, thanks to dedicated efforts and collaborative partnerships.

The journey began with Grayslake D127’s commitment to providing students with opportunities to explore career pathways aligned with their interests and talents. Spearheading this effort, Gina Schuyler, alongside partners in the Lake County Workforce Ecosystem, including Lake County Partners, Lake County Workforce Development, and Regional Superintendent Dr. Michael Karner, initiated discussions to garner support for the initiative and establish best practices.

“We recognized the potential impact of such an endorsement process, especially in light of a new House Bill proposing its implementation in all Illinois schools,” noted Dr. Michael Karner, the Regional Superintendent of Schools. “Gina Schuyler has been at the forefront of career pathway innovation, and so the Regional Office of Education (ROE) contracted with her to learn from her expertise and help other Lake County schools adopt a similar framework. In the end, our students stand to benefit tremendously.”

Gina’s recent representation of Lake County schools at the Youth Build Conference in Washington DC, alongside Jennifer Serino from Workforce Development, Jacob Cushing from College of Lake County (CLC), and Marcus Jordan from the Department of Labor, has further solidified partnerships and opened doors for Lake County’s involvement in the Career Z Challenge.

“The Career Z Challenge, a national initiative aimed at promoting career readiness and workforce development, presents an exciting opportunity for Lake County to showcase its commitment to preparing students for the future,” observed Dr. Karner. “This challenge not only highlights the innovative approaches adopted by schools like Grayslake D127 but also offers the chance to secure resources and recognition to further enhance career education initiatives across the county.”

One significant aspect of this journey has been the invaluable support from the business community. By engaging local business leaders and showcasing the exceptional talent pool within Lake County, schools have fostered partnerships that benefit both students and employers. Initiatives such as the Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs Middle School grant awarded to Grayslake D127 have provided students with hands-on experiences in manufacturing, paving the way for future collaborations and opportunities. This year’s summer event filled in less than a day.

The impact of these efforts is evident in the growing ecosystem of support for career education and workforce development in Lake County. From professional development opportunities for teachers to student-led challenges that bridge the gap between education and industry, Lake County is fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration, and success.

As a result of a professional development exercise that Grayslake D127 hosted for Tech Ed teachers, Mundelein took the lead and hosted the first ever METT Team Challenge held at the College of Lake County’s Advanced Technology Center.

“Community members from the manufacturing, engineering, technology and trades came to assess student work and provide mentorship,” observed Dr. Anthony Kroll, Mundelein High School’s Assistant Superintendent. “These events are critical because they expose students to new ideas while simultaneously helping local employers tap into Lake County’s vast talent pipeline.”

As the community continues to invest in the future of its students, such partnerships and initiatives will pave the way for a brighter, more prosperous tomorrow for Lake County, the state of Illinois, and beyond. Together, impassioned educators like Gina Schuyler are shaping the next generation of leaders, innovators, and change-makers, ensuring that they are equipped to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of the 21st-century workforce.

Pioneering Packaging Excellence In Lake County, Illinois

At Lake County Partners’ upcoming Big Event, 500+ business and community leaders will gather to honor the year’s Community Investment Award winner: Josh Fischer and his team at Fischer Paper Products.

In Lake County’s bustling world of business, Fischer Paper Products stands out not only for its long-term success story, having spent 50+ years evolving to meet the packaging needs of its clients from its home base in Antioch, but also for its commitment to innovation, sustainability, and community impact.

Fischer Paper Products is a third-generation, family-owned company known for its high-quality, food-safe paper packaging products, predominantly used in the food service industry by well-known chains like Culver’s, In-N-Out, Kwik Trip, Circle K, Sysco, US Foods and others. Each year, the company manufactures over 2 billion bags, including its iconic Cris P. Tater French fry bag commonly found in restaurants across the Midwest.

From its headquarters in Antioch, Fischer Paper Products employs more than 140, including 60+ skilled workers responsible for operating its 22 paper packaging machines. The company moved into the 175,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility in 2020 to accommodate seven additional production lines, creating 50 new jobs and space for future growth as well. The project represented a major long-term investment and commitment to the Lake County community.

“Fischer Paper Products is an exemplary corporate partner,” said Antioch Mayor Scott J. Gartner. “The company’s commitment isn’t merely financial. Their team puts the time and energy into developing highly-skilled employees and providing them with rewarding careers. They give back in meaningful ways outside of their offices too. We were grateful for their financial support of the Treehouse Community Playground, which will open in the village this summer and promote inclusive play for local children.”

At the heart of Fischer Paper Products’ success is its team. Fischer’s leadership relies on Lake County’s strong talent pipeline to create and execute new ideas and stay ahead of industry trends. The company takes pride in its number of long-term employees, some of whom have been with the business for over 35 years.

In the broader community, President and Owner Josh Fischer has sat on the Lake County Workforce Development Board for the past 4 years, and Laura Walker, the company’s Human Resources Manager, is a founding member of the Industrial Technology Advisory Committee, which was established in 2020.

“Fischer Paper Products stands out as one of Lake County’s most committed small businesses,” notes Jennifer Serino, the Executive Director at Lake County Workforce Development. “Josh is a thought leader, collaborating with the Workforce Development Board to lead performance-driven strategies that develop, align and integrate Lake County’s workforce to meet the needs of business today and in the future.”

Fischer Paper Products was also an inaugural member of the College of Lake County (CLC) Manufacturing Alliance Advisory Board, a workforce and economic development initiative to promote a strong, employer-led stakeholder group to enhance Lake County’s talent pipeline, leverage collective resources to address industry challenges, and support local and regional manufacturing sector growth.

“Lake County’s manufacturing community is strong and tight-knit,” observes Josh Fischer. “As business owners, we have countless resources at our fingertips, but we have to work together to capitalize on them and forge even greater opportunities. When the College of Lake County embarked on the build out of its cutting-edge Advanced Technology Center (ATC), we knew we had to get involved to help shape students’ manufacturing skills and ignite their passion for manufacturing.”

According to John Butler, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the College of Lake County, “Fischer is one of CLC’s most holistic corporate partners. Fischer has been generous with its philanthropy, naming the instructional learning lab at the Advanced Technology Center to promote a pipeline of skilled workers and creating the Fischer Paper Products Scholarship, which supports students pursuing an education in CLC’s manufacturing-related career technical programs who have demonstrated financial need.”

Elsewhere in the community, Fischer Paper Products uses donations and drives to support the Northern Illinois Food Bank, the Versiti Blood Center of Illinois, Antioch’s Traveling Closet, Open Arms Mission Food Pantry, the Condell Centre Club and more. It sponsors local events, sports teams and initiatives in many Lake County communities including Antioch, Lake Villa and Lindenhurst.

“There are countless examples why Fischer Paper Products deserves accolades, making the company an easy choice for this year’s Community Investment Award,” said Kevin Considine, Lake County Partners’ president and CEO. “Fischer Paper Products is a model of what it means to give back to the community, and it will be an honor to recognize their team at the Big Event.”

Lake County Partners’ Signature Big Event On Track For Record Success

Lake County Partners is thrilled to announce that it is on track for another sold out “Big Event” at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort, this Thursday, May 9th. This signature breakfast event will once again bring together hundreds of key stakeholders, business leaders, and innovators from across the region, making it the premier platform for economic growth and collaboration in Lake County.

The Big Event showcases Lake County’s dynamic business community and economic strength, and it is a catalyst for collaboration, idea exchange, inspiration and networking. The program is renowned for its cutting-edge economic development insights, and this year will focus on the monumental impact of artificial intelligence (AI). Keynote Speaker Rajeev Kapur, best-selling author of the book AI Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Generative Intelligence, will present his revolutionary look at the way that AI is transforming society, shaping technology and creating new opportunities.

“We are looking forward to a tremendous turnout and enthusiastic participation this year,” noted Steve Madden, CEO of Libertyville Bank & Trust Company, N.A., and Chair of Lake County Partners’ Board of Governors. “It has been an exceptionally strong year for economic growth in Lake County and the broader Chicagoland region. The Big Event provides a unique occasion to gather together with our partners, celebrate our wins, and set the stage for future success.”

Big Event attendees will also receive special insights from Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart. “Lake County’s high quality of life is the result of strategic community investments, skilled talent, a supportive business environment, and collaborative partnerships,” observed Hart. “Our abundant resources have fueled regional prosperity and reinforced Lake County’s standing as a national hub for innovation and opportunity.”

One company that has leveraged its Lake County location to expand is Fischer Paper Products. At the Big Event, the company will be honored with the 2024 Community Investment Award for its commitment to Lake County and investment in workforce partnerships and the talent pipeline.

“Fischer Paper Products has had a presence in Chicagoland for over 52 years, and our long history is the direct reflection of support we’ve received from the community,” noted President and Owner Josh Fischer. “When we weighed options for the company’s long-term growth, Lake County was a natural choice. In working with local officials, the Village of Antioch, Lake County Workforce Development, the College of Lake County and Lake County Partners, we’ve been able to tap into the workforce that we need to drive momentum for future generations.”

Lake County workforce development powerhouses like Gina Schuyler, the CTE Department Chair for Careers and Community Partnerships at Grayslake Community High School District 127, are behind the success of businesses across the county. Schuyler will be honored at the Big Event with Lake County Partners’ inaugural Talent Advancement Award for her noteworthy efforts to forge bold new career pathways and mentorship programs.

“Gina thinks outside of the box, and her visionary approach has had a profound effect on students,” noted Mikkel Storaasli, Ed.D., Superintendent at Grayslake Community High School District 127. “Her work ethic has quite literally shaped the future of education across the state of Illinois, and her dedication will have a lasting impact on students’ lives and the trajectory of business.”

The anticipated success of the Big Event underscores Lake County Partners’ commitment to fostering growth, creating new jobs, driving innovation, and enhancing Lake County’s competitiveness. By bringing together diverse stakeholders and thought leaders, Lake County Partners continues to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the region, helping businesses actualize their full potential, and advancing the community’s economic development goals.

The Big Event is made possible with generous support from the Lake County business community including Lake County, the College of Lake County, Old National Bank, the Hunter Family Foundation, Schreiber Philanthropy, Abbott, Comcast, the Gorter Family Foundation, Libertyville Bank & Trust Company, N.A., Advocate Condell Medical Center, Aston Carter, BCI Acrylic, CBRE, City of Hope, Great Lakes Credit Union, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, JP Morgan Chase, Lake County Workforce Development, Pace Suburban Bus, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Wight & Company, UCC Environmental, The Upper Illinois River Valley Development Authority, Van Vlissingen and Co., Five Grain Events and World Business Chicago.

A very limited number of tickets remain. Click here to get yours while they’re still available.

Setting the Standard for Sustainability in Lake County, Illinois

From its location in the heart of the Midwest, Chicagoland serves as a model for forward-thinking sustainability. The region’s green reputation has been won through strategic initiatives, financial incentives and innovative green infrastructure that serves as a model for communities across the country and the globe.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Lake County, where sustainable projects and long-term commitments abound. Lake County is an active participant in the Greenest Region Compact (GRC), a document developed by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus which outlines 49 sustainability goals based on municipal, regional, national, and global priorities. The county, along with 29 communities and the Lake County Municipal League, signed onto this compact to pledge a strong commitment to environmental stewardship. Impressively, nearly 73% of Lake County residents live in a community that is signatory to the GRC.

Moreover, Lake County has committed to attaining net zero greenhouse gas emissions for its operations. This includes reducing direct emissions, diverting waste from landfills, and utilizing 100% renewable energy by 2040.

Lake County, Illinois is a Leader in Sustainability & Wellness

Last September, the Lake County Board approved a resolution committing Lake County government operations to the goal of attaining net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The resolution commits Lake County to the following:

  • By the year 2030, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 50%, and achieving at least a 60% diversion rate of recyclables and organics from its own waste stream;

  • By the year 2040, procuring 100% renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 90% or more, and achieving at least a 90% diversion rate of recyclables and organics;

  • Ensuring that all new County facilities constructed after 2020 be evaluated for their potential for net zero certification;

  • Publicly reporting progress toward these goals on an annual basis; and,

  • Inviting and encouraging municipalities and townships throughout the county to join in the effort to reduce the environmental impact of the operations required to provide public service to the residents and businesses of Lake County

Lake County government has also demonstrated its commitment by recently launching a new sustainability webpage filled with resources to help residents incorporate best practices and learn more about topics including: the Lake County Tree Initiative, Solar Switch, the circular economy, net zero planning for 2040, single-use plastics policies, and net zero energy building.

In the case of Solar Switch, residents benefit from a group buying program that provides a discounted price on rooftop solar installation on homes and businesses. Solar panel systems have become increasingly popular as the price has gone down – 75% over the last 16 years – and a federal solar tax credit of up to 30% has been issued.

The county also offers support for its Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) finance program – an innovative tool that enables commercial property owners to obtain up to 100% long-term fixed-rate financing for projects involving energy efficiency, renewable energy, resiliency, water use and electric vehicle charging.

“Lake County takes a thoughtful, wholistic approach towards sustainability,” reports Sustainability Programs Manager Robin Grooms. “We make a concerted effort to incorporate green practices wherever possible, and we focus on initiatives that have a long-term impact and promote and preserve our community’s high quality of life.”

In addition to the county’s work on its Regional Tree Initiative, and the C-PACE and Solar Switch programs, staff is also actively taking steps to:

  1. Implement a Sustainability Model Ordinance Engagement Plan
  2. Amend the County’s procurement standards to incorporate the strategic plan’s sustainability goals
  3. Decrease single use plastic within government operations
  4. Conduct an operations-wide waste assessment for all departments
  5. Increase the amount of renewable energy generated by the county year over year
  6. Increase the number of new electric and hybrid replacement vehicles
  7. Decrease the amount of energy used at county facilities year over year
  8. Explore a variety of ordinance topics that support bird friendly design, dark sky and EV charging

When it comes to staying ahead of green building trends, Lake County shines. Lake County is the proud home of the first Net Zero verified building in Illinois, at the Adlai Stevenson High School Science Addition, reflecting a growing trend toward sustainable infrastructure in the region. This shift underscores the increasing environmental consciousness and demand among residents for eco-friendly practices.

Laying the Groundwork for Green Buildings

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, emphasizing its holistic nature. Building and community design play crucial roles in fostering wellness by prioritizing the occupants’ overall well-being. Features such as ample natural light, healthy indoor air quality, and access to outdoor spaces contribute to increased productivity and a positive work environment.

At the community level, green spaces and walkable neighborhoods with amenities and public transportation options promote inclusivity and well-being. By integrating health and sustainability, communities can enhance quality of life, cultivate a sense of belonging, and support overall health and happiness, attracting both businesses and residents alike.

“Our extensive work helping clients incorporate sustainable practices in projects across the Chicago region has demonstrated that net zero goals and wellness opportunities offers a myriad of benefits,” said Megan Zack, the Chief Sustainability Officer at Wight & Company. “Energy-efficient buildings not only reduce operational costs but also enhance marketability and asset value while minimizing environmental impact. Simultaneously, wellness features contribute to occupant health, productivity, and satisfaction, resulting in lower absenteeism and higher retention rates. This comprehensive approach not only appeals to tenants and investors seeking sustainable, healthy spaces but also positions communities as leaders in sustainability, ensuring long-term profitability and resilience in an increasingly conscious market landscape.”

Zack was part of a team from Wight & Company that recently presented an overview of sustainability and wellness best practices in planning and design to more than 50 public sector leaders at Lake County Partner’s Municipal Economic Development Advisory Group meeting series, sponsored by Libertyville Bank & Trust Company, N.A., and and Wintrust Financial Corporation

The Wight & Company team emphasized a viewpoint that sees buildings as preventative care, stressing the market demand for wellness-oriented communities. The estimated value of the global wellness community market stands at a whopping $134 billion, with an annual growth rate of 6.9%.

For those considering energy updates, Zack says now is the perfect time to act. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), coupled with the incentives from Illinois Shines and ComEd, offer substantial cost coverage for installing solar panels on homes or businesses. These financial incentives provide a 4–6-year payback followed by significant energy savings over the next two decades. Additionally, the IRA extends tax credits to single-family homes, multi-family dwellings, and commercial buildings for equipment upgrades and electrification, beyond just solar installations.

How Can You Benefit Financially While Supporting the Environment?

With more than 25 years of experience assembling resources to sustainably support growing businesses and fuel Lake County’s economy, Lake County Partners can help your company assess available incentives. Connect with us here to learn more.

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 and learn why the area is a national leader in biotech.

#1 – LARGEST LIFE SCIENCE CLUSTER IN THE MIDWEST

As the home of the 3rd largest life science industry nationwide, and the largest in the Midwest, Lake County is the location of choice for many the world’s leading brands, including AbbVie, Abbott, Baxter, Amgen, 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.

#2 – BIGGEST CONCENTRATION IN ILLINOIS

Approximately 51% of the life science jobs in the state of Illinois are located in Lake County. With 160+ companies, including 10 major corporate headquarters, 23,000+ jobs and $31.4 billion in total sales, the life science industry is Lake County’s largest economic sector and a huge draw for highly-skilled professionals in pursuit of jobs. It’s no wonder that the area accounts for $15.6 billion in Gross Regional Product (GRP), accounting for 71.3% of Illinois’ total output.

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. The powerhouse cluster of biotech leaders has drawn plenty of attention, with the area landing in the top 5 locations of bioscience venture capital.

#3 – TOP-RANKING SCHOOLS

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. The area is also a national leader in biotech research and development, with some of the best minds in life science at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and more.

#4 – FORTIFIED TALENT PIPELINE

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.

#5 – OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH

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 with move-in-ready wet lab space 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.

#6 – INVESTMENT POTENTIAL

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.

#7 – STATE SUPPORT

Illinois’ life science industry has enjoyed considerable growth, from legacy Lake County companies such as Abbott, AbbVie, and Amgen, 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.

#8 – EASY ACCESS

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 International (the most connected in the world), Mitchell International, and Midway—provide global access, while executives enjoy the perks of full-service private aircrafts at Waukegan National Airport.

#9 – QUALITY OF LIFE

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.

#10 – SPIRIT OF INCLUSIVITY

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.

Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership Issues First Annual Report

In celebration of it’s first anniversary, the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership has issued an Annual Report, detailing its work and wins in the region. Read on for the introduction letter written by Greg Bedalov, Chair of the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership and Kyle Schultz, Chief Growth Officer at World Business Chicago, on behalf of GCEP’s executive leadership, and to review the full report.

One year ago, we embarked on a remarkable journey with the launch of the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership (GCEP). Our mission was clear – to unite and showcase the global competitiveness of the Chicagoland region, leveraging our diverse talent, advanced infrastructure, renowned institutions, and top-ranked industries. Today, we proudly share with you the GCEP’s 2023 report, a testament to our collective efforts and an invitation for you to join us as we further define the future of the region.

In just twelve months, the GCEP has emerged as a dynamic force. Our success lies in the active collaboration among county partners across the region. From international engagements like the Collision Conference in Toronto and the Chicago Sister Cities International 50-year anniversary business delegation trip to Japan, to local initiatives such as Chicago DeepTech Week and the Chicago Venture Summit series—we have cultivated a thriving ecosystem that extends far beyond our municipal or county borders. At the time of the launch, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle remarked, “We all do better when we all do better.” This continues to represent the spirit of this collaboration. With equity and inclusivity as the cornerstone of economic development, we are contributing meaningfully to the economy throughout Chicagoland in many ways, including:

The most recent rankings in the WSJ’s “2024 Best Colleges in the US” report was based on three main factors: Student outcomes, including graduation rates, graduates’ salaries, and how those salaries offset the cost of attaining an undergraduate degree at the College; the learning environment, including how well graduates feel they were prepared for a career; and diversity of the students and faculty.

  • The GCEP is growing the regional economy. In the last year, 8,576 jobs were created or retained because of GCEP, which generated $715.9 million in direct and indirect worker earnings.
  • Sharing strategic initiatives, programming, and public funding opportunities which has led to increased trust across partners in the region, and a more collaborative approach to drive growth.
  • Providing data driven analysis and research that will continue to define future opportunities for economic growth across the city and seven county region.

In March 2023, Site Selection Magazine named Chicagoland the Top U.S. Metro for Corporate Relocations and Expansions, consecutively for ten years, and named four GCEP counties among “America’s Best Counties.” Last year, the WBC Research Center published the first-ever Regional Asset Map—a comprehensive guide that provides vital economic data. WBC’s support of GCEP includes producing monthly economic dashboards, quarterly updates, opinion pieces, and other vital assets. Furthermore, WBC’s leadership continues to enthusiastically deliver presentations, participate in panel discussions, and advocate for the strengths of Chicagoland as a prime business destination to businesses throughout the world.

We invite you to become a champion of the greater Chicagoland region. Consider this report as not just an overview, but a call to action. Here is a digestible glimpse into the strides we’ve made, the milestones we’ve achieved, and the vision that will continue to propel us forward. As a champion, you have the power to amplify and talk about the competitive advantages of Chicagoland. Join us as we solidify Chicagoland’s reputation as a global hub for innovation and the epicenter where the future of business is incubating.

Therapeutic Scuba Will Go Deeper With Diveheart’s Newest Pool

Imagine escaping your wheelchair and standing upright. Diveheart, a non-profit organization based in Downers Grove, Illinois, has been helping individuals with disabilities including physical and developmental disabilities, vision and hearing impairments, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, autism, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, chronic pain and more, do exactly that since 2001.

Diveheart provides unique adaptive scuba and scuba therapy programs that allow individuals with physical and/or cognitive disabilities to expand their mobility through the experience of being underwater in zero gravity.

Diveheart’s programs have benefitted children, veterans, and countless others and helped to revolutionize water rehabilitation. Now, the charity that introduced and expanded adaptive scuba around the world is building the world’s deepest warm water therapy pool – and with the help of Lake County Partners, the organization has chosen a site in Lake County, Illinois, for the facility because the location will benefit from the area’s immense life science and healthcare talent. Learn more about the proposed deep pool in this new video.

After completing a preliminary facility design, securing the second of two patents on the deep pool design, and finalizing a capital raise feasibility assessment, Diveheard recently revealed the proposed pool’s cutting-edge design and kicked off a major fundraising campaign.

“There are many great types of therapy, but in scuba diving we have the franchise on zero gravity,” said Diveheart Executive Director Tinamarie Hernandez. “It’s thrilling to help get someone out of their wheelchair and standing up underwater for the first time since their injury, or maybe for the first time in their lives,” she added.

Diveheart’s proposed deep pool will provide a way to scale up and help more people enjoy the physical health benefits of underwater zero gravity in a confined and safe warm water environment. The pool will be a worldwide destination for research, rehabilitation, education, and training, and it will provide vocational opportunities as well. The 130 ft. depth of the pool is important because it allows Diveheart to replicate the benefits of deep open water diving without the unknowns of weather, water movement, and other factors that limit opportunities for research and rehabilitation.

Currently, the world’s deepest recreational dive pool, at 200 feet, is located in Dubai, but no existing deep pool anywhere in the world is functional for adaptive scuba and scuba therapy, says Jim Elliott, Diveheart’s founder and president. However, the pool that Diveheart plans to build will meet this important need.

The Diveheart team has focused on the medical and therapeutic benefits of scuba therapy since the organization’s founding over 23 years ago, and its experts have conducted international adaptive scuba symposiums and presented to medical groups around the world. In 2023, Diveheart presented to physicians from the Mayo Clinic on the benefits of scuba therapy, and the team will return for an encore presentation at another Mayo Clinic conference this spring.

Prior to the engagement, Diveheart will kick off its deep pool project with a campaign launch event in Deerfield in mid-February to demonstrate how it would revolutionize adaptive scuba rehabilitation and make it accessible to a wider community. Learn more about the project and how your donation can make a difference here.

WE DRIVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS

We excel at helping leaders expand their business ideas in Lake County, Illinois. Connect with us and see how you can leverage our resources and benefit from our work boosting Lake County’s economy in a way that benefits all residents and businesses.

How We’re Putting the CEDS Into Action

After a robust process involving business, community, education and workforce stakeholders, LCP finalized a new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the county to create jobs, fuel collaboration and strengthen the economy. In 2022, the CEDS received endorsements from Lake County Partners’ Board of Governors, the Lake County Board, the College of Lake County Board of Trustees, and the Lake County Workforce Development Board and was formally submitted to the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

While the CEDS reinforces the importance of business retention and attraction, it goes further to explore structural issues that create the foundation for healthy and inclusive economic growth across the vibrant and diverse communities in Lake County. As a result, LCP has spearheaded several major initiatives to support the goals of the CEDS:

IMMEDIATE FOCUS OF THE COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

Lack of access to high-quality, affordable childcare can limit workforce and impact school-readiness and long-term education outcomes. Along with a coalition of stakeholders, LCP worked with a consultant to understand Lake County’s childcare landscape. 

The resulting “Start Early” report identified that Lake County only has enough licensed space to accommodate 37% of children aged 0-5 from households where all parents are working. LCP is working with local partners to address this challenge and ensure the health of Lake County’s childcare system.

UNDERSTANDING HOUSING NEEDS

In order for Lake County to attract and retain residents and businesses, it must have a diverse housing stock that provides options for households at different life stages, ages, incomes, and sizes.

In recognition of the important role of housing in community building and economic development, LCP, with support from Lake County Housing & Community Development and Illinois REALTORS®, initiated a housing analysis to better understand local demographics and identify gaps and opportunities. This year, LCP worked with Kretchmer Associates to complete the study, and is in the process of presenting it to stakeholders to ignite conversations on Lake County’s future housing market. You can read the full report from Kretchmer Associates here. 

ADVANCING DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION

Knowing that diversity contributes to a healthy economy and equitable access is an important part of community development, LCP created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, which suggested changes to the organization’s bylaws to create seats on the Board of Governors for three representatives from small business or community-based organizations.

At this year’s Big Event, LCP’s membership accepted the proposed bylaws, and LCP then worked with the Operations Committee to establish a process to accept nominations—seats are expected to be filled in early 2024.

HELP US FUEL EQUITABLE GROWTH IN LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS

Learn more about the CEDS here, and click here to see the results of LCP’s work in 2023. Then, head over here to connect with us and see how you can get involved in our important work to boost Lake County’s economy in a way that benefits all residents and businesses.

2023 Was a Standout Year for Business in Lake County, Illinois

Lake County’s talent and strong mix of industries fueled record growth in 2023, with the year marking one of the best runs of economic development in the county’s history. Lake County Partners celebrated its 25th anniversary with major investments, new partnerships, and the continued implementation of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy to support businesses, advance economic mobility, and enhance quality of life. The organization also celebrated president & CEO Kevin Considine’s recognition as a Titan 100, marking him as one of Chicagoland’s top 100 CEOs, for his leadership and dedication to economic development.

All told this year, LCP’s work drove $610 million in capital investment, helped create 786 new jobs and resulted in 512 retained jobs.

“The last 5 years have been incredible from a business and job growth perspective, and 2023 is probably our best year yet” says Lake County Partners’ Director of Business Development Director Ron Lanz. “We have had the honor of working with industry leaders to help them expand in Lake County, and we’ve marked the success with a number of groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings. Heading into 2024, LCP’s project pipeline remains robust, particularly in key industries like advanced manufacturing, life science and sustainable energy. Based on my conversations with business leaders, I’m looking forward to continued positive momentum.”

Between all the groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, award ceremonies, international delegations and everything in between, there were plenty of occasions to celebrate in 2023. Here were just a few of the year’s biggest highlights:

NEW & EXPANDED BUSINESS WINS DEFINED 2023

REALWHEELS

After working with LCP to seal the deal, RealWheels cut the ribbon on a 65,000 sq. ft. facility at 3905 Route 173 in Zion to accommodate growth, new jobs and additional product development. RealWheels has expanded locally several times over the years. Today, the company has over a dozen U.S. patents, employs 60 people and offers a catalog of products proudly made in the U.S.

CARLSON LABS

In recognizing the value of Lake County’s talent, vitamin and supplements manufacturer Carlson Labs acquired 350,000 sq. ft. for its expanded manufacturing operations at 100-120 Schelter Road in Lincolnshire. This highly-automated facility will retain 50 jobs in Lake County and add an additional 140 to the thriving workforce. 

MIF SPEC BUILDING

Midwest Industrial Funds joined local officials and LCP in celebrating a groundbreaking for the Libertyville 45 Corporate Center, a Class A spec redevelopment on a high-visibility 19-acre site, which will feature two buildings sized 169,065 sq. ft. and 165,234 sq. ft. and have the ability to service a multitude of uses including corporate headquarters, distribution, assembly, and manufacturing.

RONCADIN

Italian pizza maker Roncadin committed to Lake County for its new and expanded US headquarters, manufacturing, and distribution operations via the purchase of a 68,279 sq. ft. building at 220 N. Fairway Drive, Vernon Hills. With full operations starting in early 2024, Roncadin will employ 170 workers at their state-of-the-art facility. 

HENRY BROCH FOODS

At the Big Event, LCP honored food manufacturer Henry Broch Foods with the Community Investment Award for the company’s decision to expand its existing Waukegan headquarters by adding 160,000 sq. ft. of new production, robotic warehouse and distribution space, representing a capital investment of nearly $40 million. As part of the project, the company retained 400 existing jobs, and added 150 new jobs.

NEMERA

Medical device manufacturer Nemera, which produces auto-injectors and syringes in Buffalo Grove, is further expanding in Lake County with the purchase of 190,000 sq. ft. at 600 Darling Drive in Vernon Hills. The facility’s 100 new employees will support production of Nemera’s proprietary ophthalmic products, producing the multidose eyedropper Novelia®. 

BECOME ONE OF OUR SUCCESS STORIES

The good news doesn’t end here. Keep an eye on our social media, blog and news to learn more about growing your business in Lake County, Illinois. We have over 25 years of experience driving economic growth and the resources needed to take your company to the next level. Connect with us to tap into our free services here. 

Taking A Fresh Look at Chicagoland’s Value Proposition

When the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership (GCEP) was established at the beginning of the year, Lake County joined the City of Chicago, Cook County and five other counties across metropolitan Chicago in a united effort, led by World Business Chicago, to take business attraction to the next level on the global stage.

By all measures, the group effort is paying off. In leveraging the region’s incredible competitive advantages—an abundant talent pool, 2nd largest concentration of Fortune 500 headquarters in the country, major growth capital investments, thriving economic sectors, renowned institutions, interconnected transportation and more—GCEP has already has a number of economic development wins under its belt.

“The GCEP asset report and map showcase the unparalleled vitality of the greater Chicagoland region,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO of World Business Chicago. “As the GCEP comprises the city and seven counties, this report provides a unique view of the economic strengths. For site selectors, TV and film scouts, and business leaders eyeing expansion, the report offers the insights needed to make a strong and compelling business case as to why Chicagoland. This is also a must read for residents and local businesses interested in knowing more about our diverse economy, strategic location, and commitment to equitable growth.”

The new report illuminates the strategic and economic strengths that define the Chicagoland region as a nexus for business and innovation, and it has already become an essential resource for site selectors, executives, and entrepreneurs alike. It is broken down into 8 easily-accessible categories, which are underpinned by a few overarching themes:

  • SIZE — Chicagoland is the nation’s third largest economy and is among the top 20 global economies; in fact, its economy is larger than most nations. The Chicago region offers more supply on a scale unmatched by growing or other low-cost areas. Businesses have access to a larger labor pool, customer base, and supply chain than elsewhere in the U.S.

  • DIVERSITY — Unlike other metro areas with strong industry dominance, like tech in the Bay Area or life sciences in Boston, Chicagoland offers the most diverse economy in the U.S. This diversity provides a cushion against economic shocks as businesses and workers can transition more readily to alternative sectors during challenging times. It also enhances the region’s competitiveness on a global scale, positioning Chicagoland to capitalize on global market trends and shifts in demand.

  • INDUSTRY — The Chicago region is the most diverse manufacturing ecosystem in the U.S. — of the 21 manufacturing sub-sectors, Chicago is ranked among the top five of 13, and is among the top 10 of 16. This diversity not only enhances the quality of products and processes but also makes the region a hub for innovation, attracting investment and talent. Moreover, a diverse manufacturing sector is better equipped to adapt to changing market dynamics, reducing vulnerability to economic fluctuations and contributing to the region’s long-term stability and prosperity.

  • INNOVATION — Chicagoland’s tech ecosystem is characterized by a blend of established industries, startups, and research institutions that contribute to its unique identity. The diverse economy provides startups with ample opportunities for collaboration and partnerships, and prestigious universities and research institutions foster a rich environment for technology innovation.

  • RESILIENCE — Chicagoland is poised to weather adverse conditions — physically and economically. Chicagoland has the right combination of diversification, adaptability, environmental policy, and supportive social systems that contribute to an economy’s resilience.

  • COST — Chicagoland has more affordable real estate and cost of living, especially compared to the coasts and similarly-sized, globally-connected metro areas. Businesses have access to a world class ecosystem, at the cost of a tertiary market.

“Lake County Partners appreciated the opportunity to team up with our GCEP partners to produce this fantastic assessment of Chicagoland’s many assets,” stated Bethany Williams, Lake County Partners’ Director of Strategy and Intelligence. “The document reflects our collective goal to provide tailored insights, show off the region’s vibrant economy, foster strategic decision-making, and nurture innovative endeavors. The same unique set of assets that originally put Chicagoland on the map endure and grow stronger with time, inviting future growth and prosperity.”

Review the new GCEP Asset Report & Map here, and connect with us here so we can walk you through the many reasons why Lake County, Illinois is the right location for your next business move.