Category: Uncategorized

Life Sciences Growth Starts Here

When the first boutique-inspired Hyatt Place Hotel in the world opens, you know it will be special. That’s certainly been the case with Lake County’s new Forester Hotel, a nature-inspired oasis in Lake Forest designed to inspire business meetings that flourish.

From that seed of an idea—to invest in a business-focused development on a prime piece of real estate along I-94—a larger concept has blossomed. And it’s one that is certain to benefit Lake County’s hot life sciences industry and tight real estate market.

Janko Group, an investment/development team that has been involved in excess of $1 billion of real estate deals and has a current portfolio of owned properties valued at nearly $500 million across a spectrum of industries including hospitality, office, industrial, retail and residential, purchased the Forester property and received a variance to develop the hotel. The group also owns the adjacent 6.13-acre property alongside the Forester and is now focused on developing the site with a state-of-the-art facility specifically built to accommodate life sciences uses.

“We have been investing in properties across the region for more than 30 years. Based on our experience, we feel that this property is the best possible location for life sciences, in the county and in the larger metro. It’s extremely visible, easy to access, and in close proximity to many of the country’s biggest industry leaders. This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we know that the project will catapult the right company to the next level,” said Janko Group Founder and CEO Gary Janko.

POSITIONED FOR SUCCESS

The finished, access-controlled product will feature fourteen-foot ceilings, offices, first generation and column-free lab space, robust mechanical systems, multiple power voltages and backup power. In-demand wet lab space is also a possibility for the property. Importantly, it will also tie into the Forester Hotel next door to provide an additional 4,500 sq. ft. of flexible event space, a full-service bistro and bar, grab-and-go market, fitness center and comfortable hotel rooms and suites to accommodate visiting clients.

This opportunity couldn’t come at a better time. Lake County’s unique mix of life science and advanced manufacturing industry leaders has set it apart when it comes to doing business, and growth is off the charts. The area is consistently ranked among the top ten for life science clusters nationwide, in large part because it is home to many of the world’s leading brands, including AbbVie, Abbott, Baxter, Horizon Therapeutics and Pfizer.

Chicago’s northern suburbs also host the headquarters or major operations for many international leaders including Lundbeck, Astellas, Fresenius Kabi and Takeda. Include younger companies like Jaguar Gene Therapy and Nexus Pharmaceuticals along with the many fast-growing startups at Rosalind Franklin University’s Helix 51 incubator, and you have a vibrant life science ecosystem.

“The best thing about Lake County is that we can accommodate all stages of company growth,” says Lake County Partners Business Development Director Ron Lanz. “From the major startup activity that we’re seeing in smaller labs at Rosalind Franklin University, to larger properties like this one—Lake County has top-of-the-line spaces with in-demand amenities, transportation access and a stellar workforce that you just can’t find anywhere else.”

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO TALENT

This huge concentration of industry leaders has indeed resulted in an enormous pool of talent. There are more than 5.6 million people within a commute radius from Lake County, and 40,000 of them work in life sciences. Lake County’s workforce not only includes seasoned professionals – there is a huge crop of young talent too, thanks to Chicagoland being the #1 destination for Big Ten university graduates. In fact, 46% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is 13% greater than the national average.

With talent, comes great business success. Worldwide, local life science sales have accounted for $85 billion. Given the cost of doing business and living in Lake County, this amount can stretch much further than in peer areas like Boston, the Bay Area, San Diego and New Jersey. Chicagoland’s business operating index is a mere 98.3, compared to the average 101.9 seen in these counterparts. Here, effective tax rates are also competitive or lower, and electricity rates are much less—12.56 cent/kWh compared with Boston’s 21.11 cent/kWH, for example.

It’s Lake County’s affordability and high quality of life that keep businesses and residents coming. Award-winning communities feature nationally-ranked schools, making Lake County a destination for families and professionals who want to put down roots while building a rewarding career.

Enjoying life inside and out of the office is a pillar of Lake County’s work ethos, and it shows. Thankfully, projects like this one make the office element very, very attractive.

HOW CAN LAKE COUNTY PARTNERS HELP?

Lake County Partners has the resources and connections to help your company find the perfect spot and source the talent that you need. Connect with us here to explore this Janko Group opportunity or others.

Lake County is the Gateway to Global Markets

Lake County is a prime hub for regional, domestic and international markets. Its central location between Chicago and Milwaukee, along the I-94 corridor, provides convenient one-day access to a large swath of North American industry. The Port of Chicago and Waukegan Port District, coupled with Lake County’s state-of-the-art facilities, reliable rail lines, and transport routes put companies at a strategic crossroads for goods distribution. In fact, Illinois is the only state crossed by all seven of the nation’s class one rail lines.

Importantly, Lake County is also just a quick trip from three major international airports—Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, O’Hare International and Chicago Midway International—as well as Waukegan National Airport, which includes a new customs building and handles private, corporate, business, executive and governmental aircraft operating in Northeast Illinois and Southeast Wisconsin.

When it comes to attracting talent and accommodating business needs, this strong multimodal connectivity makes recruiting and commuting around the region a snap – particularly as travel returns to pre-COVID levels.

IT’S TIME TO TRAVEL

Nearby Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) has seen this travel surge first hand, and the airport is adding on new services to meet the growing demand and continue to deliver the first-rate experience for which it’s known.

MKE currently offers nonstop flights to 35+ destinations coast-to-coast, and more than 200 international destinations are available with just one connection. Through a convenient SmartPark app, travelers can reserve guaranteed parking spots and earn rewards.

As the world reopens, MKE has prioritized customer service, health, safety and convenience so that travelers taking to the sky feel comfortable to enjoy their recreational and business travel.

“We are proud to have recently earned our first Airports Council International (ACI) World Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award for our success in delivering an outstanding customer experience at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport,” said Airport Director Brian Dranzik. “This recognition is especially meaningful because it places us among the world’s best airports as voiced by travelers through independent surveys administered at the airport. We competed with airports across North America that have 5 – 15 million annual passengers, and we were one of only eight in the U.S. to receive the award in the Best Airport by Size and Region category. The award is the most coveted and prestigious customer experience honor any airport can receive.”

Many Lake County travelers find that MKE’s close proximity, service and affordable long-term parking make it an easy choice for leisure and business. Even more so, now that the airport has rolled out new and expanded services including:

  • JetBlue launched new daily nonstop services between MKE and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS), bringing a new and cost-effective airline option to the market. Enabled by JetBlue’s Northeast Alliance (NEA), this Milwaukee service expands the airline’s presence in the Midwest, while diversifying and advancing its New York and Boston focus city strategy.
  • Spirit Airlines added Myrtle Beach to its growing list of destinations served nonstop from Milwaukee. With low fares and a flight time of just over two hours, the new flights make it easy to enjoy South Carolina’s beachfront boardwalks and golf courses. The airline launched its Milwaukee service in June of last year, with daily nonstop flights from MKE to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando. By the end of 2021, Spirit was also flying nonstops from Milwaukee to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa, Phoenix, and Cancun.
  • Air Canada also announced plans to resume daily nonstop service between Milwaukee and Toronto beginning July 1st. The route had previously been suspended since March 2020 due to COVID-19. Flying Air Canada to Toronto provides another convenient connection point for flights to Europe, Asia, South America, and beyond.

With the public’s growing comfort level, MKE projects a busy back half of 2022. “Our famous ‘Recombobulation Area’ is ready to safely welcome back travelers and help them efficiently get on their way and enjoy all that life has to offer. We encourage you to check out our flights and book the trip that you’ve been waiting on.” says Director Dranzik.

THE CENTER OF IT ALL

Take our interactive tour to see why Lake County, Illinois is perfectly positioned to support your growing business. Connect with us here to see how we can help your company get settled in Lake County, Illinois.

Going with a Gut Feeling

When the Chicago Tribune recently asked Congressman Brad Schneider to comment on the wave of biotech startups growing at Rosalind Franklin University’s Helix 51 incubator, he called Lake County “the home of the nation’s life science corridor.” Senator Tammy Duckworth echoed his enthusiasm, noting “it’s no surprise we’ve seen this incubator grow and thrive…This incubator and research park will only continue to make Lake County a leader, not only in our state but the entire region of biomedical research and innovation.”

Judging from the recent success at the incubator and the business growth happening more broadly across the county, the excitement is justified.

With 122 life science businesses (including some of the world’s largest) and an employment base of more than 33,000, Lake County is the proud home of the largest life sciences cluster in the Midwest. A slew of globally-recognized headquarters and cutting-edge startups, coupled with a strong educational support system, have made Lake County a hotbed of innovation. Local talent is fueling life science industry growth and advancing groundbreaking technologies that stand to revolutionize the way that illness is treated and medicine is practiced.

Nowhere is that better seen than at Rosalind Franklin University’s Helix 51 incubator. In the past six months alone, the incubator has signed on five new tenants – all of whom were looking to leverage Lake County’s resources and proximity to industry leaders. A key selling point of the facility and its location is the 15-minute drive time to many global powerhouses: Abbott and AbbVie in North Chicago, Baxter, Horizon and Lundbeck in Deerfield, and Pfizer in Lake Forest.

“Budding entrepreneurs do not have to be in downtown Chicago or another big city to access talent, innovation and cutting-edge spaces. You can find the building blocks of a successful business right here in Lake County, and we’re eager to help you put together the pieces and grow,” said Dr. Ronald Kaplan, EVP of Research at Rosalind Franklin University.

Many of the startups are strategically using their time at Helix 51 to forge connections, seek investments and acquire necessary approvals to advance to the next stage of development.

THE CASE OF COVIRA

Covira is a biotech company spun out from the University of Chicago that develops drugs to modulate the gut microbiome. Its lead asset is focused on the prevention of post-surgical infections. Covira is productively using its time at Helix 51 to prepare for its next capital raise of $15 million needed to complete Phase 1 and Phase 2 of human clinical trials. The company projects that the FDA approval process could take 4 – 5 years to complete.

“We are really at the cutting-edge of microbiome research, and our work stands to prevent both the incidence and progression of post-surgical infection and its subsequent development of disability and mortality. Our team is led by Dr. John Alverdy, MD, a world authority in this field whose knowledge led us to be named one of the top twenty most innovative companies by Business Worldwide Magazine,” said Covira Surgical CEO Peter Farmakis. “We chose Helix 51 because we know that Lake County is the heart of the nation’s life science corridor. Here, we will be able to find the additional talent and investors that we need to successfully achieve Covira’s growth objectives.”

A recent company profile by Business Worldwide Magazine commended Covira, noting that its approach of using cutting-edge innovation to amplify the body’s natural protective capabilities and help it resist complications is incredibly unique. Covira is harnessing the power of the body’s gut microbiome—something that many researchers and medical professionals now understand is critical to overall health and well-being. Importantly, they are taking note of the way that the technology develops compounds that maintain and enhance a patient’s microbiome instead of adding onto, eliminating or replacing it.

With over 230 million surgeries performed worldwide every year, the work that Covira is doing couldn’t be any more timely or important. Despite advances in infection control practices, post-surgical infections remain a substantial cause of prolonged hospitalization, readmissions, morbidity and can lead to life-threatening sepsis or death. Preventing the extreme outcomes and saving lives is the driving force behind Covira’s mission.

Though the science behind the scenes is complex, Covira’s ecologically sustainable approach is relatively simple in practice. A patient mixes and drinks a tasteless, odorless and non-toxic solution before and after surgery; the oral solution coats the patient’s digestive tract and preserves the health-promoting gut microbiome while at the same time preventing the virulence (harmfulness) of pathogens that might proliferate during and after surgery. Covira sees their orally delivered medication as complementary to current surgical best practices in concert with other important infection control mechanisms such as prophylactic antibiotics, instrument sterilization, surgical technique, and proper ventilation.

Covira sees a gap in the market for their technology, and is preparing to fill it. The team is currently focused on filing an Investigational New Drug (IND) application and initiating phase 1 of its human clinical trials. From there, the company will then commence phase 2 of human clinical trials, with a target FDA approval of 2026. They have already secured one patent for their work, and have two additional patents pending.

The company has seen such initial success because of its leadership, largely bolstered by the deep life science talent bench found in Lake County and the broader Chicago metro. Covira’s team has extensive experience in business operations, including the recent addition to Covira’s Board of Directors – retired Abbott Laboratories Executive Officer Jaime Contreras.

In addition, Covira’s strong research and development team is supported by a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) comprised of world-leading experts that bring a diversified set of experiences from top-rated hospitals and medical schools across the country. Covira’s SAB includes expertise in transplant surgery, bioengineering, host-microbe interactions, colon and rectal surgery, infectious disease, microbiome, molecular engineering, and polymer chemistry. The team can also lean on its business partners that includes a roster of well-known groups including the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, Argonne National Laboratory, the Polsky Center at The University of Chicago, Smart Health Catalyzer, Creative Destruction Lab and many others.

It’s this level of expertise that resulted in a recent invitation to present the company’s findings at the American Surgical Association’s 142nd meeting in Chicago. The American Surgical Association is the oldest surgical society in the U.S. and the most prestigious in the world. At its annual gathering in Chicago this year, Dr. John Alverdy, Covira’s Founder & Chief Scientific Officer was able to share the results of his team’s revolutionary research.

“There was an incredible undercurrent of excitement at the conference, and we were honored to have our ideas received so warmly by experts from across the country,” said Dr. Alverdy. “It’s gratifying to know that, from Lake County, Illinois, Covira Surgical will have a global impact.

JOIN IN THE SUCCESS

Covira Surgical is one of many companies working with Lake County Partners to grow, as there are many reasons why life science companies thrive in Lake County. Connect with us here to see how we can help your business grow in Lake County, Illinois.

Lake County’s Proud Legacy of Sustainable Development

Lake County, Illinois’ exceptional quality of life is a huge attractor for businesses looking to grow, and for good reason. The area boasts of well-known companies offering rewarding career opportunities, nationally-ranked education and healthcare systems, affordable housing, short commutes, fiscal responsibility, strong stakeholder partnerships, and an interesting mix of urban downtowns and natural areas that include over 50,000 acres of protected forest preserves and open space, 550 miles of interconnected trails and bikeways, award-winning golf courses, 40 miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline and over 200 lakes and rivers with unlimited boating, fishing and swimming opportunities.

Living in Lake County means that you can climb the corporate ladder and still take time to enjoy the things that matter. With a strong balance of top-quality communities, leading employers, convenient commuter options and a wide variety of outdoor activities and entertainment venues, you can truly work and play in Lake County.

Importantly, there is also a strong commitment to maintaining Lake County’s prominence as a sustainability leader. “Green” is embedded in the way that public agencies do business, developments are built, companies and residents are supported, and incentives are crafted. As a result, Lake County and the broader Illinois community has seen an uptick in LEED-certified development, resulting in the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently ranking the state #1 for LEED development in the entire country.

WHERE CAN I SEE SUSTAINABILITY IN ACTION?

A prominent example of this is at the College of Lake County (CLC) – a long-time champion and role model of sustainability – where an established Sustainability Plan guides campus development to ensure that best practices are incorporated into daily operations across all three college locations and within curriculum.

In 2019, USGBC awarded CLC’s Science and Engineering Building with LEED Platinum certification—this is the highest level of accreditation achievable within the LEED rating system, and the project earned more points than any other LEED-certified new construction project in Illinois that year.

Currently, CLC is transforming an existing Lowe’s in Gurnee to serve as a state-of-the-art Advanced Technology Center (ATC) that will fuel Lake County’s manufacturing talent pipeline. In repurposing the space, CLC is placing special emphasis on its sustainable elements, while also exploring curriculum that can help technicians build competency around energy savings in manufacturing environments.

CLC has also made recent news for being among a select group of partners in the region to rally around major initiatives related to manufacturing and supply chain, workforce development, applied research, entrepreneurship, commercialization and infrastructure as part of the 2025 Clean Tech Economic Coalition (CTEC) – this effort is headed up by mHUB, a Chicago-based hardtech and manufacturing innovation center that has been recognized by the U.S. Economic Development Administration for its potential to accelerate the Chicago region’s adoption of clean energy technologies.

CLC’s sustainability goals include: minimizing energy consumption by using renewable energy resources and improving building efficiency, conserving water, including environmental and social considerations in purchases and procurement procedures, expanding alternate modes of transportation, decreasing food waste in dining areas, and creating sustainable landscapes. To celebrate all that it has achieved, CLC hosts a series of events each year to commemorate Earth Week. Click here to learn how to participate.

“At CLC, we are strategically building a talent pipeline to support the needs of local businesses. It is important that we provide our students with a state-of-the-art experience so that they leave inspired and ready to put their education and skills to work as they pursue careers in Lake County,” said CLC’s Sustainability Manager David Husemoller.

The Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) is another key player in sustainability efforts. Each year, LCDOT’s workplan seeks to incorporate bikeways constructed from recycled asphalt shingles, living snow fences, water quality and filtration basins and native vegetation. Click here to review the $90 Million 2022 Construction Plan. To ensure that Lake County’s spaces stay special, LCDOT also coordinates an Adopt-A-Highway program to provide opportunities to care for local roadways and prevent litter.

“We take sustainability seriously in all of our projects across the county, and it pays off in more than scenic views. Our investments have helped local travelers reduce time in the car, fuel consumption, carbon dioxide emissions and traffic congestion while saving money at the pump. Ultimately, the savings add up to benefit both employers and employees,” said LCDOT Director Shane Schneider.

HOW CAN MY BUSINESS BE MORE SUSTAINABLE?

This year, Lake County also teamed up with the Illinois Energy Conservation Authority (IECA) to introduce an innovative initiative – the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (C-PACE) – that has been designed to provide fixed-rate, long-term, and non-recourse financing for commercial property owners of private buildings, making it fully transferable with the property during the term of the loan. Property owners may obtain up to 100 percent financing from private capital providers for eligible improvements such as HVAC, lighting and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and other improvements in both existing buildings and new construction projects. One of the distinguishing features of C-PACE is that it is secured by a special assessment lien on the property and is repaid as a line item on the property tax bill.

“The business benefits of C-PACE are immense,” says IECA Director of Business Development Anna Maria Kowalik. “The financing even covers soft costs necessary to design, engineer, install and finance the project. Typically, these projects can reduce operating costs, increase property values and generate net positive cash flow on improvements within the first year – especially through increased utility savings.”

With its emphasis on promoting responsible economic development and enhancing affordable clean energy options, ComEd is also at the forefront of a local sustainability push. Illinois’ electric rates continue to compare favorably with other states, and ComEd supports customers considering locating or expanding in Lake County instead of other states by providing a customized energy analysis comparison. Learn more in this new Fact Sheet.

“ComEd and Lake County Partners maintain a strategic partnership where we work closely to support the growth of new and existing businesses in the area – with a focus on equitable development that benefits all communities,” notes ComEd External Affairs Manager Darren Boundy. “To help Lake County retain and expand investments in the area, our ComEd team works closely in partnership to help business customers take advantage of energy efficiency opportunities including incentives, facility assessments and building optimization measures. ComEd also supports customers’ sustainability goals by offering solar rebates and working with them to analyze beneficial electrification opportunities for their buildings and vehicle fleets.”

Click here to connect with us and see how we can help your business tap into available resources to responsibly grow your company in Lake County.

To Build Your Business for Tomorrow, Be in Illinois Today

A few years back, a machine-tools company from Illinois packed up shop and left for Texas, lured by the promise of low taxes and cheap labor. And that was the end of the story. Or so we thought. A few months ago, that same company left Texas and returned to Illinois. When asked to explain the change of heart, the CEO said: “We can think of no better location than Illinois — a true hub for advanced manufacturing — to build our team.” For him, it wasn’t just about chasing the lowest cost, it was also about unlocking the best value. He wanted to be where innovation was happening. He wanted to be in Illinois.

He’s not alone. Illinois has always drawn pioneers, visionaries, and innovators. From the first cell phone to the first search engine, from blue chip companies to paradigm-shifting startups, it all starts here in Illinois. With the pandemic receding and the economy roaring back, there’s no better time than now to tell the story of Illinois. That’s why we’re proud to shine a spotlight on everything this state has to offer, with a campaign built around a simple but powerful message: “Be in Illinois.”

HOME TO SUCCESS

It’s easy to take this state’s bounty for granted. The cutting-edge life science companies, the unmatched agriculture and food companies, the massive logistics centers, global financial companies and powerful manufacturers underpin the fifth-largest economy in the U.S. and the 18th biggest in the world.

It is all set amongst world-class culture, beautiful landscapes, charming towns, and some of the nicest people you will ever meet. It’s no wonder that Illinois is home to more Fortune 500 companies than all but three states, including Lake County-headquartered companies like Walgreens, AbbVie, Abbott, Discover, Grainger, Baxter and Caterpillar, just to name a few. And more people are catching on. Electric vehicle companies like Rivian, Lion Electric and EVBox have moved in and are already growing. In fact, Site Selection magazine ranked Illinois third in the nation last year for company expansions. Being in Illinois means being in good company.

As the world recovers from the pandemic, reliable and robust supply chains have never been more important than they are today. Illinois embodies the true meaning of the word “heartland” as the full advantage of our central geography is realized by a top-notch infrastructure. You can hop a flight here and, in four hours or less, step off in any major U.S. destination. Examine a map of railroads and you will find that all seven of the nation’s largest intersect here – the only state that can make that claim. Along with the country’s third-largest interstate highway network and the third-largest inland freight hub, being in Illinois ensures that your goods and people can flow seamlessly around the world.

A PLACE FOR PURPOSE-DRIVEN PEOPLE

In Illinois, we are working to solve next generation business problems. Manufacturing think tanks like MxD and mHUB work with businesses across the country on digital manufacturing and increasing productivity. Illinois-based Argonne National Lab leads the nation in battery and other essential research. Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Research’s Helix 51 in Lake County provides a fertile space for scientists, engineers and healthcare professionals to develop their ideas and start companies that will revolutionize medicine; see what the Chicago Tribune said about rapid life sciences startup growth in Lake County here. In fact, there is a robust network of incubators supporting growing companies in a wide variety of key industries like IT, life sciences, agtech and food.

But what really makes Illinois hum is our most important resource – our people. It seems like every day brings another headline about how hard it is to find top talent. But did you know that Illinois graduates more engineers every year than Stanford, MIT, and Caltech combined? Or that the University of Chicago and Northwestern University are consistently ranked among the best universities in the world? Of our 6.5 million workers, one-third have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Together, they make up one of the most diverse and productive workforces in the country. And we’re investing in their future through wide-ranging engineering and technical training programs to support exciting new industries like electric vehicles.

A place where visionaries come to build their dreams. Home to some of the world’s most successful companies. Seamless access to the world’s biggest markets. A diverse and talented workforce. It all adds up to an engine of success for any business. Come see what all the excitement is about. Be where the action is. Be at the epicenter. Be in Illinois.

WHAT IS INTERSECT ILLINOIS?

We are indebted to Dan Seals for sharing his thoughts in this blog post, and we couldn’t agree more on Illinois’ vast strengths and talents. Dan is the Chief Executive Officer at Intersect Illinois – our partners in driving global business development in Lake County, and more broadly in the Chicago metro and across the state of Illinois. Intersect Illinois is a public-private partnership that shares LCP’s mission to fuel job growth, investment and economic prosperity through collaboration and a unified approach to economic development. We are honored to be a part of their team to attract and retain talent and business in Illinois.

Learn more about Intersect Illinois and its new Be campaign here, and connect with us directly here to see how we can jointly help your business grow in Lake County.

Passion in Search of a Solution

Lake County, Illinois is making its mark as the home of the next generation of life science leaders.

Groundbreaking healthcare advancements require talent, passion, support and a dedication to problem-solving. With COVID’s lasting impact on the way that we assess risk and make decisions, we have relied on life science innovations to help us navigate unfamiliar terrain. After all, having timely information in the form of test results not only helps people make informed decisions – it also helps employers improve workplace safety, while keeping healthy employees productive.


As the past several years have given rise to self-administered tests, savvy consumers have been empowered by fast results that provide clear direction. For many, deciding whether or not to attend family outings, sporting events or work functions in-person is now as simple as a self-screening diagnostic test.

Risk assessments have been particularly important for the 28.8 million employees in 544,000 essential worksites across the country that have kept industries like manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, law enforcement, construction and retail running throughout the pandemic.

Though COVID tests have dominated headlines, other equally important screenings—like those used to test for flu, substance abuse, chronic disease and tobacco use—have long histories of use in the workplace. Unfortunately, those tests are traditionally handled by off-site vendors, which can be inconvenient for employees and employers. At up to $120 a test, routine offsite screenings are also prohibitively expensive.

WHEN AN IDEA BECOMES AN INVENTION

Knowing that convenient rapid tests could maximize employee participation while minimizing cost and workday disruptions, a group of Chicago-area graduates from Northwestern University, University of Chicago and Loyola University Chicago banded together to found Everyplace Labs. Their goal: to revolutionize workplace testing by creating a new onsite medical device. Though the team worked corporate jobs by day, they could be found working nights and weekends together as they bootstrapped the venture. As is the case with many start-ups, the best inventions start outside of the lab.

“Lake County’s incredible life science ecosystem has nurtured our ideas and helped us recruit a stellar roster of advisors. Through my professional work at Baxter and Fresenius, I learned how to develop and take new medical devices from early concept through regulatory approval. We have brought on other Lake County-area alums from Abbott and Shire, and this local talent is fueling our success,” said Everyplace Labs CEO Michael Tu.

As Everyplace Labs expanded its team and began to build out its technology, it explored opportunities for lab space in the region and landed on Rosalind Franklin University’s Helix 51 incubator in North Chicago as its location of choice. The start-up joins a slew of other life science companies—including ARTEC Biotech and Covira Surgical—that have leveraged the incubator’s amenities and talent to grow.

Helix 51 fosters the development of biotechnology and medical device companies by providing a soft-landing zone for these early-stage and international life science companies and providing scientists, doctors, pharmacologists and engineers an innovative space in which to advance ideas and build life-saving tools.

“We came to Rosalind Franklin’s Helix 51 incubator at a pivotal time in our company’s growth,” noted Everyplace Labs COO Claire Zhou. “As an early-stage diagnostic company, it was important for us to have access to an affordable, state-of-the-art lab space. Helix 51 fit our unique needs, from both a price and spec standpoint. Having the appropriate physical space to do testing has allowed us to complete critical technical milestones. In addition, the Helix 51 Incubator Entrepreneurs-In-Residence (EIRs) program has provided tremendous value beyond physical space—advising us on fundraising strategy, grant writing, intellectual property, regulatory and more.”

“Helix 51 is abuzz with the energy that comes from vibrant start-ups and creative talent. We have seen a huge influx of companies looking to leverage Rosalind Franklin University’s biomedical research expertise and tap into the wealth of experience that comes from Lake County’s incredible concentration of Fortune 500 headquarters and industry leaders,” said Dr. Ronald Kaplan, Executive Vice President of Research and champion of the new Innovation and Research Park and Helix 51 Incubator at Rosalind Franklin University.

FROM THE LAB TO THE WORKPLACE

Since setting up in Lake County, Everyplace Labs has developed a self-service kiosk that, initially, has been automated for rapid, lateral flow COVID antigen tests at essential worksites. The prototype has exceeded the team’s early expectations. It both provides a 5-minute testing option for employees while giving employers the comfort of a cost-effective, high-throughput, turnkey solution. Key features of the cutting-edge kiosk include:

  • Screen with instructions and digital mirror that guides patients through the sample collection process;
  • Automated testing process, including sample-reagent mixing, sample dispensing and result interpretation;
  • Built-in test kit dispenser that stores and tracks test kits for automated replenishment;
  • Built-in sanitation capabilities, including conversion of medical waste into municipal waste, antimicrobial surfaces and automated cleaning of testing surfaces;
  • Automated testing process, including sample-reagent mixing, sample dispensing & result interpretation; and,
  • Flexible reporting capabilities, through which results are sent to employees, employers receive test results in cases of mandatory testing, and employees can opt-in to share results with a remote provider for follow-up.

Employers are drawn to the kiosk because of its ease of use, and also because it requires no capital equipment cost, and all services are handled directly by Everyplace Labs. The company is scaling up to support installation, annual maintenance, servicing, user support, automated test replenishment/medical waste treatment, and integration with remote telehealth providers.

INNOVATION IN PRACTICE

Through customer discovery, Everyplace Labs validated the marketplace need for its kiosk product and found two partners with which to explore testing of its beta prototype—mHUB and Nemera. The team also recently observed user interactions with the kiosk at Rosalind Franklin University, collecting feedback from essential workers in the Lake County area.

Nemera is a fascinating case study that demonstrates the synergy between Everyplace Labs and another Lake County-based company. This Buffalo Grove device manufacturer has 430 local employees, and it welcomed Everyplace Labs in to conduct a survey on employees’ COVID testing preferences. Among the employees surveyed, 74% were interested in the kiosk testing option.

Based on preliminary customer feedback and feedback from essential workers, Everyplace Labs has been able to refine its product in preparation for clinical trials this spring. Promisingly, benchtop testing conducted in the development of the functional prototype showed better accuracy versus an in-market diagnostic system.

The next step of product development will demonstrate the sensitivity and specificity of the beta-kiosk when used by patients, particularly in a high-volume community health clinic setting. Results will be compared against the gold-standard PCR test. From there, Everyplace Labs will advance to a commercial pilot to measure the impact of an Everyplace-enabled testing program on employee satisfaction and workplace productivity.

The initial success of the Nemera pilot is promising for the long-term growth of Everyplace Labs, particularly as the company begins to branch out and incorporate a suite of other tests into its kiosks. The company is leaning into the tailwinds of a tight labor market to drive early adoption among target customers.

At current course and speed, Everyplace Labs expects to complete a commercial product later this year with an optimized design for manufacturing, at which point it will complete final testing for FDA consideration and submission. By summer of 2023, Everyplace Labs is targeting to achieve FDA and EUA approval so that the company can begin sales and distribution, with a priority of serving early pilot partners. The company recently achieved an important milestone when it received a notice of allowance for the issuance of its first patent from the U.S. Patent Office. This patent will provide a level of exclusivity from potential competitors.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

Everyplace Labs is one of many companies working with Lake County Partners to grow, as there are countless reasons why life science companies thrive in Lake County. The young startup is at an exciting stage of its development, and it is looking to forge connections with other area employers that might be interested in participating in pilot trials of the Everyplace Labs kiosk. Connect with us here to see how we can help your company tap into this unique opportunity or access other business resources.

The RISE of Diverse & Women-Owned Small Business

Lake County businesses have benefitted from a variety of strategic programs and investment designed to offset the impact of the pandemic. Recovery is underway, and there has been a surge in development — particularly in key industries like life science, advanced manufacturing, healthcare and technology.

Though the Lake County economy has seen huge gains, current events have undeniably shone a light on the need to support small businesses and advance diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives that create inviting workspaces and nurture talent. The National Bureau of Economic Research has found that from February through April 2020, Black-owned businesses declined by 41%, Latinx-owned businesses declined by 32%, and Asian-owned businesses declined by 25%; these losses were much more pronounced than the 21% decline seen in the general population.

Furthermore, according to a study by the National Association of Women Business Owners, 42% of businesses in the United States are owned by women, with more than 1,800 new businesses started every day – that’s nearly five times the national average. However, according to the same study, women-owned businesses are growing at only half the rate of those run by men, mainly because women struggle to access capital and other resources needed for success.

Small business is the life-blood of the economy. Long-term economic development and fiscal strength relies on an even playing field for all businesses, which is why additional effort is needed to offset the losses seen since the start of the pandemic. Fortunately, recently-launched programs like Comcast RISE (Representation, Investment, Strength & Empowerment) are providing new opportunities to pursue funding and resources that can further aid in recovery.

HOW CAN COMCAST RISE HELP LAKE COUNTY BUSINESSES?

As part of its $1 billion commitment to advance digital equity and reach 50 million people over the next 10 years, Comcast is leading by example and rolling out its comprehensive Comcast RISE program, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment. Comcast RISE has been created to help small businesses owned by people of color, including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian Americans, as well as women.

The program provides benefits that support several focus areas including: consulting, media, creative production, technology and finance. Since it first rolled out, the program has helped nearly 8,000 small businesses in 590 cities across the United States – including more than 600 small businesses in the local region. In just the first year since the program began, Comcast RISE has provided over $60 million in direct assistance to businesses through marketing services from Comcast’s advertising sales division, Effectv, technology services from Comcast Business, and monetary grants.

In Lake County, more than 20 small businesses have been selected as Comcast RISE recipients, from beauty salons and restaurants to HVAC and flooring services.

“The technology makeover award that we received through Comcast RISE gave our business access to advanced internet speeds and tech products that have helped us thrive. As a growing company, we have been able to leverage incentives like RISE and Lake County’s positive business climate to serve the local community and reach new audiences,” said Fernando Mateo, President of Delfino Refrigeration Inc. in Lake Villa.

HOW CAN MY BUSINESS APPLY FOR COMCAST RISE?

The program just launched a new round of applications and recently expanded its eligibility to include all women-owned small businesses. As a result, Comcast RISE is now on track to support over 13,000 business nationwide by the end of the year, and many of them stand to be located in Lake County and Chicagoland.

There are separate applications for the marketing and technology service awards and the Comcast RISE Investment Fund. Eligible business owners may apply for the marketing and technology services at any point now through June 17. Click here to review a full list of qualifications, awards and to apply for Comcast RISE.

The Top 5 Reasons to Locate Your Advanced Manufacturing Business in Lake County, Illinois

There are countless reasons why Lake County, Illinois is a hotspot for advanced manufacturing leaders like Caterpillar, Abbott, AbbVie, Akzo Nobel, Echo, Grainger and HydraForce. We’re breaking down the top 5 to show how the area’s immense talent, reliable infrastructure and spirit of innovation can take your business to the next level. Connect with us to tap into Lake County’s many business assets and help your company grow.

#1 – TWICE THE TALENT

Lake County has a pipeline of well-trained, qualified and eager workers who excel in a manufacturing environment. There are 5.6 million people within a commute radius of Lake County, 52,313 of whom specifically specialize in manufacturing—this is TWICE the manufacturing talent than the national average for similarly-sized communities.

Importantly, the workforce is also diverse; females represent 41%, and 150,000 foreign-born community members bring a wide variety of valuable perspectives and experience to the table to fuel your business.

#2 – STRATEGIC EMPHASIS ON EDUCATION

Lake County’s tremendous workforce is largely owed to the infrastructure of education that supports it. Through tours of state-of-the-art facilities, students and teachers are exposed to the rewarding career paths available in manufacturing.

Connections between students and companies are further reinforced at institutions like the Lake County Tech Campus, which is widely-regarded as one of the best career and technical education training facilities in the Midwest. The Tech Campus has the largest career technical secondary educational system in Illinois, representing over 2,000 high school students from 22-member high schools in both Lake and McHenry counties.

At the College of Lake County (CLC), a state-of-the art Advanced Technology Center is under construction in Gurnee, with plans for an opening this fall. It will provide 182,000 sq. ft. of new hands-on learning space and become the focus of economic development opportunities for welding and numeric control (CNC). CLC’s capacity to meet demands has also been expanded by the college’s recent investment in its Lakeshore campus, which brought welding and mechatronics to downtown Waukegan and doubled its capacity for the programs.

At CLC, 40% of majors directly correlate with the most in-demand jobs, and the school offers 35 career programs; through business intel (including that provided by Lake County Partners) CLC is able to efficiently tailor its programs and ensure that graduates have the skills that employers need.

#3 – ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE & INVESTMENT

Lake County is the second largest manufacturing county in the entire state of Illinois, and the industry is a true powerhouse when it comes to jobs and revenue. Advanced manufacturing generates $35.7 billion in economic output per year, contributes more than 30% of Lake County’s gross domestic product and employs 1 in 7 workers.

Not only is advanced manufacturing an important economic development engine, its sheer strength in Lake County can be counted on to attract industry leaders, highly-skilled employees, and investments—these add up, which is why Lake County has celebrated manufacturers investing $180 million in land, buildings, equipment and more over the past several years.

Importantly, local civic leaders understand manufacturing’s huge economic impact in Lake County, and they make strategic decisions and investments to support continued growth.

#4 – EASY ACCESS

Lake County is a prime hub for regional, domestic and international markets. Its central location between Chicago and Milwaukee, along the I-94 corridor, provides convenient one-day access to a large swath of North American industry. The Port of Chicago and Waukegan Port District, coupled with Lake County’s state-of-the-art facilities and reliable rail lines, put companies at a strategic crossroads for goods distribution. Illinois is the only state crossed by all seven of the nation’s class one rail lines.

Lake County also offers easier access to O’Hare International Airport than downtown Chicago, as well as convenient travel by way of three nearby major airports, four commuter rail lines and a strategic network of bus services. When it comes to attracting talent and accommodating business travel needs, this strong multimodal connectivity makes recruiting and commuting around the region a snap.

#5 – OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH

Manufacturers looking to relocate to or expand in Lake County benefit from a business-friendly environment full of leaders who want to nurture long-term economic development success. Lake County is home to a variety of flexible and rapidly-growing developments, including Bridge Point North in Waukegan, the South Lake Industrial Center in Vernon Hills, the Cornerstone development in Grayslake and the Antioch Business Park, that have been designed to give manufacturers the modern amenities that they need.

Lake County Partners’ extensive resources and connections make it easy for your manufacturing company to find space, work through permitting, identify incentives and available tax credits, access reliable and affordable utilities and tap into the exact talent that will drive your business forward.

GET READY TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS IN LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS

As Lake County’s economic development engine, Lake County Partners is uniquely qualified to leverage local assets to benefit your manufacturing business. Connect with us and we’ll make your next big business decision easy.

Perfecting the Art of Engineering Cells in Lake County, Illinois

Lake County is the proud home of the largest life sciences cluster in the Midwest and 80% of life science jobs in the state of Illinois. Its roster of globally-recognized headquarters and cutting-edge startups, coupled with a strong educational support system, have made Lake County a hotbed of innovation. Local talent is fueling life science industry growth and advancing groundbreaking technologies that stand to revolutionize the way we treat illness and practice medicine.

Nowhere is this more evident than at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS), a highly-regarded institution in North Chicago that is fostering bioscience through its Helix 51 incubator. Helix 51 provides a soft landing for early-stage and international life science companies in need of space and a nurturing environment in which to develop ideas – precisely what ARTEC Biotech, Inc. (ARTEC) sought to get off the ground and running with its life-sustaining cellular therapy, made possible through genetic engineering.

WHY LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS?

ARTEC is led by an incredible team of scientists joined in their mission to develop cellular therapy products to improve longevity and quality of life. The company seeks to address an ongoing issue with cancer treatments in which some forms of cancer relapse, do not respond to, or resist therapies.

Given the highly-complex nature of ARTEC’s technologies, the company was in search of a specialized and affordable laboratory space with state-of-the-art equipment and a network of industry experts that could provide guidance on intellectual property rights and business strategy. It was a tall order, but one that RFUMS’s Helix 51 incubator was built to fulfill.

ARTEC quickly realized that the nimble, academically-driven environment of scientists and industry experts at Helix 51 provided unmatched potential for growth and collaboration. The company signed on, and immediately tapped into the many resources and opportunities available to life science companies in Lake County.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR ARTEC?

ARTEC’s pioneering technology and international reach has made it a prime example of Lake County’s important role in the global biotech industry. The company has flourished at Helix 51, forging new collaborations and exploring funding possibilities to take its technology to the next level.

The effort is led by Dr. Vasil Galat, Ph.D. — an expert at the forefront of stem cell biology and a former associate professor of pathology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, where, as director, he led the stem cell core facility at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

His colleague, Dr. Igor Beletsky, Ph.D. is an expert in molecular and tumor biology in Moscow, Russia; aside from his tremendous scientific contribution, Dr. Beletsky also serves as an ARTEC representative in the Eastern European market.

COO Yekaterina Galat, MSM, has called upon her years of experience in Natural Killer (NK) cell differentiation and propagation to lead the development of the technology that became the subject of the provisional patent application and greatly strengthened ARCTEC’s IP portfolio.

The team is developing a potent NK cell-based immunotherapeutic product for cancer treatment that is based on aversion of the immunosuppressive signaling of cancer cells. This treatment avoids the common harsh side effects of current standard of care treatments and the risk of Graft Vs. Host Disease (GVHD) associated with newer cancer treatments like CAR-T. It is the first “off-the-shelf” live NK cell therapy developed from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) that does not require co-administration of check-point inhibitors to improve efficiency. ARTEC’s technology allows the introduction of genetic modifications at the iPSC level, and then differentiating them to adult cell types. Such an approach allows for an unlimited clonal expansion, thus greatly reducing the source variability and the number of batch verifications for off-the-shelf products.

In bringing its expertise to Lake County, ARTEC increases its attractiveness for companies that are looking for iPSC-derived cell technologies to advance their gene target identification, drug screening, and disease modeling research.

“As far as we know, we are the only ones in the Chicago-area with the expert knowledge to produce vascular and blood cells from iPSC. We are excited to bring this cutting-edge technology to Lake County, and to partner with academics or companies that are interested in utilizing iPSC-derived endothelial, mesenchymal, or blood cells to advance their own research and product development,” said COO Yekaterina Galat.

“I feel very fortunate that we crossed paths with RFUMS and the Helix 51 incubator. Through the university and its talented faculty, we have been introduced to Lake County’s flourishing life science ecosystem and made connections that will be integral to our next stage of growth and development. The location will be a gamechanger for our company,” noted CEO Vasil Galat.

HOW CAN YOUR LIFE SCIENCE BUSINESS GROW IN LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS?

As the agency charged with driving economic development in Lake County, Illinois, Lake County Partners is well-equipped to provide the resources and connections needed to fuel growing life science and biotech companies. Contact us here to see how we can help your business move forward.

The Time Is Right To Build a Vision for Lake County

For the last several months, LCP has convened business, education, workforce development and civic leaders to collaboratively align economic priorities across the region through a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) process. This effort was driven by a Steering Committee comprised of members representing a variety of interests from both the public and private sectors. As we worked through the CEDS process, we refined a vision statement and some guiding principles, analyzed data, convened a series of stakeholder roundtables and interviews, worked through a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats assessment (SWOT), and developed a set of goals, strategies and actions for the next five years.

WHY DOES THE COUNTY NEED A CEDS?

Over the last decade, the Lake County economy has enjoyed strong gains, especially in key industries like advanced manufacturing, corporate headquarters, and life sciences. Manufacturing has seen a huge uptick in development and new jobs, and important investments have been made to strengthen the talent pipeline and support continued growth. In the case of life sciences, Lake County’s talent and deep bench of startups, mid-level companies and global giants like Abbott, AbbVie, Baxter and Horizon Therapeutics have made it the proud home of one of the largest industry clusters in the country.

Though all economic development growth supports the well-being of the county as a whole, a strategic plan to leverage the success will ensure that the entire community benefits from it. Having an actionable plan in the form of a CEDS will give local leaders the tools they need to provide equitable opportunities, seek funding, remain competitive and make the most of Lake County’s tremendous potential.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP WITH THE VISION?

In leading the development of the CEDS, it has been a priority to include input from a wide variety of stakeholders. For this reason, the draft CEDS is available for a 30 day public comment period; you can read the draft CEDS and submit your thoughts here. There are a few key things to keep in mind as you review the CEDS:

  1. It is a high-level roadmap for economic development, not a work plan.
  2. While economic development has historically been synonymous with job growth, a tight labor market and prevailing demographics mean that we need to take a more holistic approach, which requires the integration a broader range of systems and partners. As a result, the plan contemplates areas like housing growth and early childhood education—issues that haven’t always been part of economic development discussions. This means that LCP won’t necessarily drive all of the initiatives in the plan, but because these systems all contribute to our economic future, they are included in the CEDS.
  3. It is a five-year plan, and some of the goals will take even longer to bear fruit.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO FINALIZE THE CEDS NOW?

While there are definitely strategies in the CEDS that will have an impact soon, we are focused on the long game and making smart investments now that will pay dividends well into the future. A key motivator to complete a CEDS document is the fact that projects in alignment with the CEDS may be eligible for federal funding opportunities through the Economic Development Administration.

While the last few years have presented plenty of challenges, we’re fortunate to be launching our CEDS during a time of once-in-a-generation public investments in the economy. Lake County has enjoyed many recent business successes, and the time to build on them is now.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CEDS?

As Lake County’s go-to economic development corporation, LCP is fortunate to have earned a $110,000 federal grant to fund and lead the development of the CEDS. The CEDS would not have been possible without the contributions of a broad group of people from across Lake County. Our Steering Committee, stakeholders who participated in roundtables, interviews and workshops, and all those who shared their comments have had a hand in developing this plan. The CEDS process has greatly benefited from the expertise offered by the project’s consultant, Austin-based TIP Strategies. Learn more about the CEDS here.