First Half of 2024 Marked With Major Investments & Economic Growth

Lake County Partners is fortunate to have the unique position of working with local leaders to enhance Lake County’s economy, support business and make sure the community is positioned for equitable prosperity. The first six months of 2024 have been a particularly successful continuation of one of the best runs of economic development in county history, as measured by job growth and investment.

In the past 5 years, LCP has fueled 4,400 new jobs, retained nearly 4,800 jobs and driven $1.2 BILLION dollars in direct investment in the community. With plenty of projects in the pipeline, particularly in key industries like life science and manufacturing, sustainability and energy, we are expecting an equally busy back half of the year.

Along with the success has come the recognition. Site Selection Magazine recently named Chicagoland the top metro in the U.S. for corporate relocation and site selection for the 11th consecutive year. Illinois is #2 in the nation for corporate projects. Lake County has certainly played a role in this honor.

CNBC, too, has ranked Illinois among the top in the nation for business, U.S. News and World Report has recognized Lake County schools among the best in the nation, with a headline that could have been plucked from our promotional material – “Best High Schools in the U.S.: Lake County Schools Lead the Way in Illinois.”

Education is what truly sets Lake County apart. Local schools are highly skilled at training the next generation of talent, and preparing students for success. For some, that might mean helping them go on to 2 or 4-year college. For others, it means creating bold new career pathways. In fact, Lake County has emerged as a leader in Career and Technical Education, in Illinois and the nation.

Lake County schools are stronger because they have support from corporate citizens like AbbVie—the company helped fund the new Neal Math and Science Academy in North Chicago, which opened one year ago. This is just one of many examples of the public-private partnerships that fortify Lake County’s workforce pipeline and bolster key industries like life science.

Chicagoland continues to rank top in the Midwest and among the top 10 biopharma clusters in the U.S. In fact, the industry’s success in the region spurred the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation to commit $250 million to boosting life science technology in Illinois. At the same time, we’ve seen huge grants awarded to researchers at Rosalind Franklin University to advance cutting-edge medicine.

We can’t applaud our educational systems without acknowledging the huge role that higher education plays in our economy. The homegrown talent coming out of Rosalind Franklin University, the College of Lake County and Lake Forest College is a game-changer for local employers, including our major health systems, which have been ranked among the top in the state by U.S. News and World Report.

Lake County has so much to leverage when it comes to business attraction, and Lake County Partners is reaching new audiences thanks to the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership—formed through an alliance with our counterparts in the region. Since its inception, the partnership has been invaluable in helping us create new connections and opportunities, both in the region and across the globe.

Indeed, Lake County, Illinois’ economy is in excellent shape. Over the last several years, Lake County’s Gross Domestic Product has grown 17.2%, reaching $76.4 billion. Real GDP was also up 2% in the same time frame. The GDP metric is considered the gold standard measure of overall economic activity because it accounts for the value of the final goods and services produced in an area.

Other economic indicators also give us plenty to celebrate. Not only does Lake County’s number of businesses now exceed pre-pandemic levels, but there are more people employed in Lake County than at this same point last year. Growth has been particularly prominent in key industries like advanced manufacturing, life science, healthcare and professional and technical services.

Business growth, coupled with a tight labor market, has further reinforced our laser-focus on talent development and business outreach. We are grateful to have your support and our partnerships with Lake County, the College of Lake County, the Tech Campus and area high schools in this endeavor. Thoughtful partnerships and a strategic work plan have always been the bedrock of Lake County Partners’ mission, and will be particularly important as we stand poised for future growth.

Economic projections from our partners at World Business Chicago indicate that we can expect to see a 20% increase in metro area GDP by 2028, and Lake County will enjoy another 1% uptick in jobs in that same time frame. Top sub-industries projected to grow include management and advanced manufacturing.

Economic growth is certain to be bolstered by local spending power. In 2023, consumer spending totaled $32.1 billion, which made the local business ecosystem the third largest by county in the entire state of Illinois, and roughly 15.9% of the entire metro area. This figure is expected to go up, with forecasts projecting an additional 12.8% spend over the next five years.

Chicagoland raised $4.73 billion in growth capital in 2023—including $2.61 billion in venture capital and $2.12 billion in private equity. Although this is a drop from the unprecedented levels of capital raised in 2021 and 2022, the volume of deals remained steadier in Chicago between 2022 and 2023: there were just 8 percent fewer deals in 2023, the smallest drop among compared metro areas.

Growth capital investment has been particularly powerful in fueling many of the same key industries that support Lake County’s economy— industrials, healthtech, fintech, manufacturing and life sciences. In 2023, Lake County companies raised nearly $140 million in growth capital through just 16 deals in these areas.

This has had favorable implications for commercial real estate, with Lake County seeing more than 22 investments in spaces of 20,000 sq. ft. or more in 2022. As of Q1 2024, Lake County has already seen a net absorption of over a quarter of a million sq. ft. of industrial space, and there is another 335,000 sq. ft. under construction through state-of-the-art projects happening in communities across the county.

It has been a very busy time, but one that is incredibly rewarding as well. Creating connections is at the heart of what Lake County Partners does, which is why a core focus of ours is meeting directly with business leaders to provide customized resources that they can leverage to grow. Lake County is fortunate to have many strong corporate leaders that work with the organization, and each other, and choose to invest in the community. It is because of them that Lake County has such a rich history of business success. Click here to connect with us and learn how your company can join in the success by leveraging our free resources.