Q1 2018 Economic Developments Newsletter

The Lake County Partners Quarterly E-Newsletter: January 2018

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Click here to see the economic indicator charts from the January 2018 newsletter.


We’re Your Lake County Partner for Business

With the generous support of our investors and in partnership with local stakeholders, we accomplished many things to drive business growth and fuel talent development. Key outcomes include giving strategic employers greater access to skilled talent and deeper integration with training and education partners. Click here for a glance at last year’s achievements and headline-making expansions and relocations.

Board Thanks Outgoing Chair Joseph Luna and Appoints Richard Korengold as Successor

Lake County Partners Board of Governors recently acknowledged Joseph Luna for his service as Board Chairman from 2015 – 2017. Under his leadership, Lake County Partners established the ground-breaking Workforce Ecosystem partnership and implemented significant components of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The Board has appointed Richard Korengold, Senior Manager at Mesirow Wealth Advisors, as its new Chairman. Korengold served as Vice Chair in 2017, and he has been on the Board since 2013 and on the Executive Committee since 2015. 

Mesirow Financial has long been a supporter of Lake County Partners. Korengold has been leveraging his over thirty years of local business experience to work with Lake County Partners to identify ways the firm can continue to boost local business growth and drive the Lake County economy forward. One key way has been to provide subject matter experts to share their knowledge at Lake County Partners’ educational events and seminars. “Mesirow Financial has many employees and clients who live and work throughout Lake County,” said firm chairman and chief executive officer Richard Price. “We are excited to work more closely with Lake County Partners and participate in programs that will help the local governments and businesses.”

“Under the Board’s direction and with Richard’s support and guidance, we have made immense progress in advancing economic development and job growth in Lake County. Recent outcomes have focused on advanced manufacturing and healthcare and included robust training and employment programs, job placements, bustling career fairs, new internship opportunities and headline-making expansions and relocations. We’re really looking forward to continuing to make advancements in these arenas under Richard’s leadership,” said Lake County Partners president and CEO Kevin Considine.

Lake County Leaders Join in Launching the Chicago Regional Growth Corporation

Distinguished business and government leaders recently launched the Chicago Regional Growth Corporation (CRGC), a regional economic development organization that drives collaboration among public and private partners in order to generate inclusive growth and prosperity across northeastern Illinois. “This collaborative effort gives us the ability to capitalize on tremendous strengths and leverage complementary assets across the region, to drive the entire economy forward,” noted Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor, who had a leadership role in the establishment of the CRGC. 

CRGC will provide a platform for collaboration and prioritize, align and manage the region’s economic development initiatives, unifying programming and the region’s identity. CRGC includes leadership from Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties and the City of Chicago, as well as industry leaders from manufacturing, food processing, finance and higher education. The new organization will strengthen the regional economy and better connect resources to generate economic opportunity and prosperity.

“The economic growth of cities, from neighborhoods to suburbs is highly interdependent,” said CRGC founding Executive Director Tom Hulseman. “We have a huge opportunity to capitalize on our resources and bring all of the players to the table to set an economic development agenda that works for the entire region, with a strong emphasis on inclusive economic growth throughout all of CRGC’s programs and initiatives.”

CRGC will put the Chicago region at the forefront of the economic development field, connecting the region’s assets and building from within. The organization will add capacity to the economic development efforts of individual organizations with new programs and resources, which will make the region more efficient and reduce intra-regional competition.

“In 2013, I brought our neighboring county leaders together to explore how we could better combine resources and collaborate to advance the Chicago region's economy,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This regional working group has developed programs and initiatives that have already benefitted residents throughout the region. By formally creating CRGC, we are providing a single voice for the region that will benefit businesses and residents and grow the economy throughout northeastern Illinois.”

Already, the working group that has become CRGC collaborated on initiatives including coordinating a regional response to Amazon’s search for an HQ2, bringing together leaders from all seven counties to nominate sites and combine resources.

Once work begins this month, CRGC will take on a variety of initiatives, facilitating regional collaboration including:

“CRGC puts Chicago at the vanguard of regional economic development, where regional collaboration to build on shared global assets will lead to growth and inclusion,” said Amy Liu, vice president and director, Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.

JPMorgan Chase and CMAP are founding supporters of CRGC, along with each county and the City of Chicago.

CRGC will add value and complement the work of other economic development organizations, resulting in a cycle of investment, training, employment and wage growth and a strong, more prosperous economy. The founding board, announced today, includes:

The executive leadership from the seven counties and City of Chicago will advise ex officio the board and executive director:

For more information visit ChicagoRegionalGrowth.com.

Lake County Partners Teams with ComEd to Host 1st Economic Development Boot Camp

Nearly one hundred leaders from across Lake County recently came together to participate in an Economic Development Boot Camp designed to help them capitalize on the current momentum in the Lake County economy. Co-sponsored by the local economic development group Lake County Partners and ComEd, an Exelon Company, the event gave local leaders a forum to better understand the local business climate and offered insight into how they can work collectively to fuel continued economic development in their communities.

The event kicked off with an update on the state of Illinois from Intersect Illinois, the State’s privately funded economic development group that is working collaboratively with partners across the state to put Illinois back on the path to economic growth and prosperity. “There are so many advantages to doing business in Illinois,” said Mark Peterson, President & CEO, Intersect Illinois. “Too often we hear about the negatives, when in fact, Illinois is a world-class destination for business,” said Peterson, who noted the importance of collaborating with local officials through events such as this Boot Camp. “To bring new jobs and new investment to Illinois, we must have a collaborative regional effort with local municipalities and regions across the state working together to showcase our collective strength as well as the unique offerings that each can bring to the table.”

“Interest in Lake County as a place to do business is incredibly high right now,” said Kevin Considine, president and CEO of Lake County Partners. “Lake County is a desirable location for its global access and a high quality of life, and companies are taking note of the specialized talent infrastructure we’ve built in key industries such as advanced manufacturing, biopharma, and healthcare. We are energized by the potential for growth in these sectors and excited to work with local municipalities across Lake County to seize new opportunities for economic investment and job growth. We’re also excited to participate in collaborative efforts, such as the Chicago Regional Growth Corporation, to attract new business and investment to the larger region as well.”

Attendees received an in-depth look at the site selection process from a panel of experts including Minah Hall, Managing Director of True Partners Consulting, LLC, Tracey Hyatt Bosman, Managing Director of Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company and Allen Joffe, Principal and Managing Broker of Baum Realty Group, LLC.  While each site selection process is unique, the panel shared trends that are influencing the decision-making process for new developments, office relocations, industrial space and retail locations. While the bottom line is always a key deciding factor, the panel also stressed factors such as labor availability, business climate, and livability as being essential to the decision process.

Panelists also shared their perspective on incentives that are being used to lure big business. “While incentives certainly play a role in location decisions and can offer advantages, they don’t always have to cost a lot,” said Hall.  She encouraged communities to get creative when it comes to incentives. “Offer recruitment assistance, provide relocation support, or ease the permitting process. In Lake County, there is a natural ability to use talent as a draw because businesses are so dependent on readily-available skills.”

Speaker Steve Groetsema, a partner with Bridge Development Partners, also encouraged attendees to play to their strengths. As one of the most active developers of industrial space, Bridge offered a valuable perspective from a developer’s point of view to help Lake County officials continue to build on the local boom in the manufacturing sector. Groetsema also noted Lake County’s workforce as a differentiating factor. “Labor, labor, labor,” said Groetsema. “One of the biggest challenges in manufacturing today is the skills gap. Lake County’s strong workforce and vast talent pool give it an edge over other locations that can’t meet the demand for skilled workers.”

Another key advantage for Lake County is its digitized utility infrastructure. John McCann, Economic and Business Development Manager of ComEd, Thomas Kallay, Director of Community Relations and Economic Development of Nicor Gas, and Ken Greene, Senior Director of Market Development at Comcast Business Services, joined the Boot Camp event to brief attendees on utility considerations.

“Utilities are the backbone of business operations. Infrastructure, reliability, and cost are all key factors to drive business efficiency and innovation,” said McCann, noting that the utility infrastructure in Illinois sets it apart from neighboring states. “Illinois ranks number two in the nation for grid modernization, delivers ‘best in class’ reliability and provides access to competitive energy markets along with solar, wind and renewable energy options. These advantages play a key role in powering future economic growth here in Lake County.”

“We are excited to see Lake County leaders come together with a focus on future growth and economic prosperity,” said Lake County Chairman Aaron Lawlor. “2017 was a big year for our local economy, with new companies choosing to call Lake County home and many existing businesses choosing to expand here. The business community is taking note of our efforts to build an unparalleled workforce, which along with great communities and convenient access, make Lake County a premier destination to do business.”

Recent Career Expos Help Businesses Reach Young Talent

LCP continues to team with partners in the Workforce Ecosystem to produce events that expose students to in-demand careers and allow businesses to tap into their talent. In November, 400 students from Lakes Community High School had the opportunity to meet with leading Lake County employers to explore career tracks in the manufacturing and health sciences industries. In January, 150 college students from across the Midwest attended the 2nd annual Engineering Internship and Job Fair at the College of Lake County to meet with 23 Lake County businesses in search of job candidates. With many leading companies in these industries calling Lake County home, it’s important that we continue our work to align skills with needs.

Lake County Engineering Internship and Job Fair Highlights Broad Range of Local Employment Opportunities

The Lake County Workforce Ecosystem, led by the College of Lake County, the Lake County Workforce Development Department and Lake County Partners, hosted its second annual Lake County Engineering Internship and Job Fair at the College of Lake County on January 5th. More than 150 engineering students from schools across the country connected with 23 top employers in Lake County, who are looking to attract the next generation of talent.

“The Midwest is home to a high concentration of nationally-recognized engineering universities, and we are producing some of the top talent in the country,” said Kevin Considine, president of Lake County Partners.  “Our goal with events such as the Engineering Internship and Job Fair is to help students access the broad range of career paths available right here in Lake County, and to help employers retain this top talent.”

“There is a misconception that the best engineering opportunities are on the coasts, when in fact the Midwest is a growing hub for innovation,” said Sylvia Johnson Jones, Executive Director for the Career and Job Placement Center at the College of Lake County. “Not only is there a strong foundation of established companies in need of technical talent, but there is also a deep pool of talent coming out of the Midwest, starting at places like the College of Lake County.”

Engineers of all backgrounds will find themselves a home in Illinois, which ranks as the 4th largest manufacturing state in the nation and 8th overall in science and engineering research expenditures. Attendees at the fair had the opportunity to interview with leading innovators in Med-tech, Automation, Biopharma, Precision Manufacturing and more. “I wasn’t just surprised to see the number of students in attendance at the fair but it was great to also see the variety in the majors and schools. I usually travel between Iowa, Illinois, Texas and Michigan to look for students on their campuses. Today I spoke with students from those same states and even further,” said Eric Rys, Senior HR Specialist with HR Green.

“We had great success at this same event last year, and so we were excited to have the chance to participate again and connect with students to showcase the exciting career paths that we can offer at Gewalt-Hamilton Associates,” said Anika Moore, HR Manager. “Events like this give us easy access to a variety of students from across the Midwest and beyond, which is instrumental in supporting our internship program and ensuring the long-term success of our company.”

Josh Kim from the University of Rochester, a Chemical Engineering major, took advantage of the fair, viewing it as an opportunity to easily connect with a large number of employers to explore career paths and discover job opportunities that may be available next summer. “Here, I was able to conveniently meet with many well-known companies in one central location, and because I’m on break from school, I didn’t need to worry about fitting it into my school schedule. I will definitely be back next year and hope to see more chemical engineering companies from around the region as well.”

Carl Senger from Ohio Northern University echoed these thoughts, noting that he grew up in Gurnee and looks forward to returning to the area after school to pursue a career. “I always knew that Lake County is home to a lot of great companies, but this event has given me exposure to some that I didn’t realize were located here. It makes me even more excited to return to the area to establish myself professionally.”

Lake County businesses participating in the fair included AL Hansen MFG Co, Atlas Engineering Group, Basin Precision Machining LLC, Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers, Culligan International Company, Federal-Mogul Motorparts, Flex, Gewalt-Hamilton Associates Inc., Handi-Ramp Inc., HR Green, Hydraforce Inc., Lake County Government, MacLean-Fogg, MBX Systems, Noise Barriers LLC, Nosco, Profile Plastics Inc., Progressive Components, R+D Custom Automation, Simplymg, Sysmex America Inc., and United Conveyor Corporation.

Lakes High School Students Explore Careers in Manufacturing & Health Sciences

Nearly 400 students, from Freshman to Seniors, at Lakes Community High School recently participated in a Manufacturing-Health Sciences Career Expo sponsored by Lakes High School, the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), the Lake County Workforce Development Department and Lake County Partners, an economic development group that works to maintain economic vitality and quality of life in Lake County. Students had the opportunity to meet with 10 participating employers to gain insight on career tracks within the manufacturing and health sciences industries, both growing fields in Lake County where there will be strong demand for future talent. 

“The expo was an amazing opportunity for students to learn beyond the classroom,” said Michelle Bank, who is a Transition Specialist for District 117 schools. “It was inspiring to see students engaged in future possiblities” added Lakes High School Counselor Nicole Repa.

The expo is one of many career fairs geared towards local youth in Lake County made possible through a grant provided by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. The grant was awarded to Lake County Partners to continue development of its Workforce Ecosystem initiative, a program designed to bring together private and public stakeholders to ensure local businesses have the talent pipeline they need to succeed.

Benjamin Romano, an operator at Termax Corporation, knows first-hand how Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, combined with career expos can help students drive their careers after high school. Benjamin has been working at Termax since he graduated from high school four years ago. “CTE programs allow kids to try their hand at various jobs so they know what they’re good at and where their passion lies. I found my passion there and now I have a career path working for a great company.”

Romano believes career expos like the one held at Lakes help CTE programs find a wider audience and expose a broader set of students to career paths outside traditional four-year college. “Many high school students are not aware of the exciting and growing career options in manufacturing that this expo showcases. Students leave with a better understanding of the jobs that will be available and an understanding of the courses they can take to land a job down the road.”

Manufacturing plays a vital role in Lake County’s economy, with more than seven hundred medical instrument and precision manufacturing and tooling companies operating within its boundaries, and the industry employs nearly 18,000 people. Manufacturing sector jobs in Lake County are up 15 percent since 2010 and forecasted to grow an additional four percent by 2020. The health care industry employs nearly 27,000 workers in Lake County – a number that is expected to grow 6.4 percent by 2020.

Lorraine Harris from the Lake County Health Department wants young people to come away from the career expos with a broader view of healthcare careers available to them. “There is a disconnect with younger people today on the various careers available in industry,” said Harris. “You see healthcare and you think of having to work in a hospital or doctor’s office setting. At the Health Department we run the spectrum of careers in the medical field, from health inspectors, health education (such as tobacco cessation) specialists and medical coding” With such a wide-range of positions across the county, the career potential is vast. “We look for nursing, psychology, education and health sciences students. at the Lakes High School Career Expo and others like it help us get the word out that there are so many different careers available no matter where you get your start.”

Lake County businesses participating in the career expo included Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science – HPEC and College of Pharmacy, Termax Corporation, Hollister Inc., Zebra Technologies, Sysmex, Job Center of Lake County, Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, Lake County Health Department, German American Chamber of Commerce, and OMRON.

Exports are on the Rise in Lake County

Our new Economic Update finds that Lake County’s exports have skyrocketed 15 percent over the past four years, and they now account for more than $6 trillion in sales—giving Lake County the distinction of having more exports per capital than any other metro Chicago county. Manufacturing continues to play a large role in Lake County’s local economy, with the industry driving job growth and offering career pathways with significant hourly earnings. Lake County’s companies make a variety of products that one might not expect—including the interesting examples recently showcased in this “Bounty of Lake County” video

Lake County Companies Continue to Make Headlines

Two successful Lake County companies with global reach, SGS in Lincolnshire and Winix in Vernon Hills, have chosen to invest and expand locally. Both companies have plans to increase capacity and create new jobs. As another testament to the high caliber of global industry leaders operating in Lake County, Working Mother Magazine recently recognized Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Abbott on its annual list of the Top 100 Companies for Working Moms. 

SGS, a leading bio/pharmaceutical analytical and bioanalytical contract solutions provider, is enlarging the company's facility in Lincolnshire to 58,000 sq. ft.—an investment that is expected to increase capacity by 50% and create new jobs to accommodate a wider range of services. The company operates globally, and has 20 laboratories that provide solutions for large pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms.

South Korean air purifier manufacturer Winix also relocated its North American headquarters to Vernon Hills. Winix was founded 47 years ago and the company’s U.S.-based sales have grown 2.5 times in the last 18 months as a result of its presence in Costco and on Amazon. The company plans to double its employee base in Lake County by 2019.
In addition, Working Mother Magazine recently recognized Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Abbott on its annual list of the Top 100 Companies for Working Moms. The two companies were honored for their schedule flexibility, extensive family benefits and generous paid parental leave—attributes that allow local employees to develop a healthy work-life balance.

CLC’s New Supply Chain Management Program Emphasizes Real-World Application

The College of Lake County’s new supply chain management program, launched in the fall in response to employer feedback, has quickly earned a reputation for its practical approach. The program is funded by Grainger and consists of a 60-hour A.A.S. degree and two certificates. Click here to register

“While some students are new to supply chain and are exploring the many career opportunities, other students already work in the field. Their positions include purchasing, warehouse management, transportation and customer service, and they are excited to share their own practical experiences in class,” said Pam Janson, Program Coordinator.

“A few students have commented that the textbook for the introductory course is the same one used in master’s degree programs at other schools,” Janson said. “However, we cover the topics at an exploratory level. A common challenge that we explore is what industry insiders refer to as ‘The Amazon Effect.’ Many customers, regardless of industry, now expect everything to be delivered in two days. Suppliers are trying to meet that expectation.”

In addition to in-class analysis, students benefit by touring warehouses and manufacturing facilities and listening to guest speakers. Funded by Grainger, the program consists of a 60-hour A.A.S. degree and two certificates: Introduction to Supply Chain (15 credits) and Advanced Supply Chain (30 credits). For details, visit www.clcillinois.edu/scm.



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