Q3 2015 Economic Developments Newsletter

The Lake County Partners Quarterly E-Newsletter: September 2015

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Click here to see the economic indicator charts from the September 2015 newsletter.

The Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Discusses Economic Development Strategies with Lake County Partners

Jim Schultz, the Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), attended the June Lake County Partners Board meeting to discuss his department’s aggressive strategies to retain, grow and attract business in Illinois. Lake County Partners Board Members noted that they look forward to working with DCEO representatives and local stakeholders to further strengthen Lake County’s business climate.

At the same meeting, the Board discussed a number of important news items and initiatives that the organization is pursuing to build on the recent positive economic development momentum in Lake County. Of note, there have been several significant development projects announced that will continue to develop over the course of the year. These projects include the Antioch Corporate Center in Antioch, Baxalta’s Headquarters in Bannockburn, the Bridgepoint 94 development in Libertyville, the Bridgepoint North development in Waukegan, the CDW expansion in the Tri-State International Complex in Lincolnshire, and the Medline expansion on the former Aon Hewitt campus in Lincolnshire.

Additionally, as reported within this newsletter, the latest job statistics continue to indicate that Lake County’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the region and personal income per capita is on the rise, regional cooperation is underway in the areas of freight, logistics and exports, local workforce development efforts are being coordinated to meet the needs of local companies, business leaders are recognizing the importance of the Millennial Generation as young professionals increasingly contribute to company success, and local youth were busy developing job skills through the important Summer Youth Employment Program so that they can continue to benefit Lake County businesses and organizations. We encourage you to read on to learn more about these latest developments.

Lake County Continues to Have the Lowest Unemployment Rate in the Region

As of July, the unemployment rate in Lake County was at 4.8%, which is significantly lower than the state of Illinois (5.9%) and the national (5.3%) unemployment rates. In fact, Lake County’s unemployment rate has remained less than 5% for the last four months—this is the first time since 2007 that unemployment rates have been this consistently low.

Also in July, the U.S. added 215,000 jobs. The number of unemployed persons per job opening is now at a record low. In the Midwest, there are 1.4 unemployed people per job opening, compared to a number of 1.6 nationwide. Although the Midwest is slightly better off than the nation as a whole, the economic recovery that has taken place across the country in the last several years is astounding. For comparison, in July of 2009, there were 6.2 unemployed persons per job opening nationwide, or four times as much as today’s average.

Not only is the number of jobs growing, but income data suggests that the quality of jobs is steadily increasing as well. From 2009 to 2013, Lake County’s per capita personal income has steadily increased from $53,157 to $60,853 www.bea.gov. Per the 2010 census data, Lake County’s median household income is $77,469, which is significantly higher than both the Illinois and national median household incomes at $56,797 and $53,046, respectively. Lake County has the highest average weekly income in the state when compared to all other counties in Illinois. The average weekly income in Lake County is not only higher than that in all other counties in Illinois; it also beats the national average weekly income average.

This increase in jobs and income in Lake County makes the Lake County Promise a reality. Lake County’s socioeconomic factors can deliver a “first rate quality of life” where Lake County residents and employees alike can achieve financial stability and long-term career growth.

The Chicago Regional Growth Initiative Convenes in Lake County

On July 9th, 70 leaders from Lake, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, McHenry and Will counties met at Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Deerfield for a half-day workshop in an on-going effort to collaborate and develop strategies to strengthen the region’s economic development growth opportunities in the areas of freight, logistics and exports. These meetings are held throughout the region on a biannual basis, and this particular event was hosted by Lake County.

A number of delegates attended on behalf of Lake County and they engaged in discussions on key topics including the Chicago Metro Metal Consortium, Metro Chicago Exports, streamlined truck permitting, Foreign Owned Enterprises and Foreign Direct Investment. All of the presenters remarked on the importance of regional collaboration, the unparalleled talent of our workforce, and the noteworthy strides being made to ensure that businesses have what they need to establish, grow and prosper.

Planning is currently underway to continue to develop these themes at the next Chicago Regional Growth Initiative meeting to be held in early 2016, and Lake County will continue to participate in this important discussion and partner with our counterparts in the metropolitan area. To learn more about the region’s Manufacturing Community Designation and recent efforts to strengthen the local economy, click here.

Municipal Leaders Learn About Lake County’s Workforce Ecosystem

At the third quarter Municipal Economic Development Advisory Group meeting recently held at the Loyola University Cuneo Mansion, municipal leaders from across the county convened to learn more about our Business Outreach Program and how it benefits from our relationships with local workforce development professionals and their organizations’ programs.

Kevin Considine, Lake County Partners’ Managing Director of Existing Business Outreach and Strategy joined Dr. Ali O’Brien, the Assistant Vice President of Educational Affairs at the College of Lake County and Jennifer Serino, the Director of Lake County’s Workforce Development Department to discuss how they collectively work together to cultivate Lake County’s Workforce Development Ecosystem. The key themes of their presentation are summarized here.

An educated workforce and a pipeline of available talent are at the core of what drives our economy, and these have long been the strengths of Lake County. According to recent Big Event Keynote Speaker and Economic Architect Mark Lautman, a shift is happening in the economy and, rather than workers migrating to where the jobs are, jobs are beginning to migrate to available talent. With Lake County’s promise of a “highly educated workforce,” we are well positioned to capitalize on this trend.

Ensuring that businesses can find a talented workforce—both today and tomorrow—is critical to the economic health of the entire region. No single agency or organization is responsible for this; rather, it takes an ecosystem of workforce experts, educators, funders and connectors working together to ensure that businesses have access to the talent that they need and that residents have access to the career paths that they seek.

One of the key partners in this local ecosystem is the Lake County Workforce Development Department. Director Jennifer Serino, in recently presenting to the Economic Development Advisory Group, illustrated how the Workforce Development Department trains and places many of the over 17,000 individuals that they serve in a year. Addressing the needs of local business, the Workforce Development Department distributes over $2 million in grant funds to train the unemployed or under employed and then seeks to place them as full-time employees at local companies. In many cases, that job placement can be further supported by on-the-job-training grants and other funds available to aid companies who hire these workers.

Working closely with Lake County Partners and the Workforce Development Department is another key partner in the ecosystem, the College of Lake County (CLC). Dr. Ali O’Brien, CLC’s Vice President of Educational Affairs, discussed how CLC uses feedback from the 500+ professionals on their 37 career advisory committees to ensure that curriculums align with local business training needs. A $150 million master plan is currently underway, and planned improvements will benefit all three of CLC’s campuses, particularly in the STEM fields. CLC has worked closely with local manufacturers such as Smalley Steel Ring in Lake Zurich to hone their manufacturing curriculum and develop internships and apprenticeships in critical areas like Laser Photonics, Automation, Robotics and Mechatronics.

Lake County’s local Workforce Development Ecosystem includes many more organizations, such as high schools, for-profit training institutes and social service organizations that work together to ensure that Lake County has the diverse and prepared workforce that businesses need today and long into the future. Our organization continues to strengthen our partnerships with these important agencies as we move forward with our Business Outreach Program.

If you would like to discuss opportunities for recruiting and training your workforce, expanding your facilities or growing your business in other ways, contact Managing Director of Existing Business Outreach & Strategy Kevin Considine at kconsidine@lakecountypartners.com or 847-597-1226, or submit your request online

Young Professionals Tell Us What it’s Like to Work in Lake County  

In partnership with its economic development investors, Lake County Partners recently launched Leadership Lake County—an initiative designed to attract and retain young professionals, aged 18-34, in Lake County. Leadership Lake County was founded by Lake County Board Chair Aaron Lawlor and County Board Member Nick Sauer in 2014, and is overseen by a Steering Committee made up of representatives from prominent Lake County businesses and organizations, including Northshore University HealthSystem, Hospira, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Hollister, Grainger, Sysmex, Manhard Consulting, Baxter, the Lake County Contractors Association, VW Credit, Discover and the Waukegan Arts Council. To advance the initiative, the committee has looked at current research on Lake County’s demographics, young professional-oriented programs and organizations, and other resources that could support the initiative’s objectives.

Michael Stevens, Lake County Partners’ President and CEO who has been involved with Leadership Lake County from its inception, reports, “The data that the Steering Committee has collected thus far has been insightful and has indicated that job opportunities with thriving businesses will be the number one factor driving talented young professionals to Lake County. This initiative can help promote how future generations can build a career and put down roots in Lake County.”

The steering committee has spent the summer months on outreach efforts to gain insight, leading focus group discussions with young professionals and polling human resource professionals via online survey at companies throughout Lake County. Moving into September and October, additional focus group discussions will be held at colleges and universities in Lake County, Cook County and southeastern Wisconsin.

Through this strategic outreach, Leadership Lake County will identify the existing conditions and future needs of key industries in Lake County as well as the “wants” and “needs” of the young professionals inside and out of Lake County that may serve as the labor force for local businesses in key industries. Following the outreach stage, the steering committee will compile a report which will then be shared with County stakeholders and used to shape long-term objectives for the initiative.

Businesses that would like to participate in the online survey and/or learn more about how to host a facilitated focus group discussion with their young employees can contact Economic Development Manager Barbara Prusila at bprusila@lakecountypartners.com or 847-597-1230.

Regularly updated information on Leadership Lake County can also be found online through:

The Leadership Lake County Facebook Page:

The Leadership Lake County Twitter Feed

“Shining Stars” Abound in the 2015 Summer Youth Program

For the second year in a row, Lake County Partners hosted a celebration to recognize those who participated in Lake County’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The Summer Youth Employment Program is an initiative that is funded by Lake County and managed by the Workforce Development Department. It gives summer jobs to youth (aged 14-22) in low income households to provide them with work experience and assist them with developing life skills. 

In 2014, 171 youth participated in the program; due to popularity and demand, the County Board expanded the program in 2015 to provide employment for 215 individuals. Over 900 youth applied to participate this year, and available positions were assigned through a lottery system. Selected employees were stationed to work throughout the county in park districts, libraries and local businesses and organizations. At the recent end-of-program celebration, participants and their families enjoyed a barbeque picnic at the Greenbelt Pavilion in North Chicago and were commended for their summer work achievements with “Shining Star” certificates.

Mark Your Calendar for these Upcoming Veteran-Focused Events

Employ Illinois Veterans Workshop

Returning veterans can offer tremendous strengths and skill sets to potential employers. Join Illinois Department of Employment Security Veteran Employment Representative Judy Leonard from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. on October 29th at the Waukegan Public Library to learn how your organization can successfully recruit, hire and retain this talent-rich pool of candidates. This session fulfills the human resources training requirement to become a member of the Illinois Hires Heroes Consortium, a group of premier employers that have taken a three-part pledge to hire those who have served in the U.S. military. For more information or to register, please contact Judy Leonard at judy.leonard@illinois.gov or 847-377-3469

Veterans Resume Boot Camp

If you are a veteran currently seeking a job, you are invited to attend a free Resume Boot Camp to be held from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. on September 30th at the Waukegan Public Library to review your job search documents with a professional and ensure that they appropriately highlight your knowledge, skills and expertise. For additional information on the event, please contact Lake County Workforce Investment Board Research Analyst Bethany Williams at bwilliams@lakecountyil.gov or 847-377-3435.

Ryan Spencer Reed Photography Exhibit

In 2012, American photographer Ryan Spencer Reed began documenting soldiers’ experiences to bridge the gap between those who have experienced war and those who have not. On September 11th, the Waukegan Arts Council and the City of Waukegan will present the 2015 Series entitled “Those Who Serve” at the Urban Edge Gallery in Waukegan. This unique installation is open to the public through Veteran’s Day. Click here to learn more about the event and its important themes and inspiration.



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