NEW IMA Study Highlights Lake County’s Manufacturing Strength

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) continued its statewide “Manufacturing Matters” tour with a stop at the College of Lake County’s Advanced Technology Center in Gurnee to detail the results of a new economic impact study measuring the industry’s significant contributions to the state and local economy.

Conducted by independent economists at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, the study found the total economic impact of manufacturing in Illinois is estimated to be between $580 billion and $611 billion every year – the largest share of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product. Manufacturing directly employs 662,298 workers but ultimately supports as many as 1,771,928 jobs, generating up to $150 billion in labor income for Illinois residents annually. In all, it’s estimated that the manufacturing industry supports nearly 30 percent of all jobs in Illinois, making it among the state’s largest industry sectors.

“Manufacturing is a key pillar of our state economy, and the industry’s success is vital to our state’s success. Illinois manufacturers feed the world, make life-saving products, power our homes and businesses, build our infrastructure, transport people and products around the globe and provide for our nation’s defense,” said Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Manufacturers are the innovators and entrepreneurs, the builders and producers, and the dreamers and leaders who are solving our challenges and creating our future. It’s imperative our elected officials enact polices to allow for the industry’s continued success, foster capital investment and grow new jobs for generations to come.”

Manufacturing is particularly important in Lake County, which is dominated by pharmaceutical, plastic product and medical equipment production. The study found the industry creates $48.4 billion in economic output each year in Lake County, supporting an estimated 31 percent of the county’s economy. This includes 98,949 jobs, which is among the highest concentration of manufacturing jobs in the state. Manufacturers generate $12.2 billion in salaries and benefits in Lake County, with the average manufacturing employee making an annual salary of $160,968.

“Advanced manufacturing has a tremendous impact on our local economy—one in every seven jobs is in the industry. Much of the success is owed to our workforce,” said Kevin Considine, President & CEO of Lake County Partners. “Our partners have made strategic investments in education at the College of Lake County, the Lake County Tech Campus and area high schools to nurture talent and arm students with in-demand skills. As a result, we have over 1,000 students in manufacturing programs at the college and high school levels. That fuels business growth.”

The study’s findings were detailed during an event at the College of Lake County’s new Advanced Technology Center (ATC) that is planning to open to the public this September. The 142,000 sq. ft. facility, a former Lowe’s home improvement store, has undergone an extensive renovation to transform into a state-of-the-art center for manufacturing education. The ATC will strengthen Lake County’s workforce by providing industry-relevant career pathways that focus on industrial technology, fabrication, and welding during phase one of the ATC’s launch.

“Studies like this underscore the importance of manufacturing in Lake County, and CLC is a dedicated partner in meeting workforce needs. We made the important decision to invest in the ATC to align our programming with Lake County’s most in-demand jobs,” said Lori Suddick, President of CLC. “This project represents enormous potential to grow a diverse skilled talent pipeline that is responsive to such a critical Lake County industry. The ATC will give our students new opportunities to build rewarding careers in Lake County, while also supporting our thriving manufacturing businesses.”

As part of the study, economists also examined the manufacturing industry’s evolution in the face of rapid technological development, with trends suggesting a shift toward a higher-skilled workforce. This underscores the importance of working closely with education institutions, policy makers and manufacturers to provide specialized training, and the need to further expand workforce training across the state to better prepare Illinois residents to enter high-demand fields.

The IMA is leading these efforts, including successfully championing the creating of two new world-class manufacturing academies scheduled to open this fall, passing legislation requiring all high schools to offer career and technical education by 2025, establishing an apprenticeship tax credit for manufacturers that train employees, and partnering with the Pritzker Administration to launch a new multi-million dollar ad campaign highlighting manufacturing jobs that will launch later this year.

The new economic impact study is among the most comprehensive looks at the true impact of manufacturing in Illinois, which has historically been underreported. The standard metrics fail to capture the multiplying economic effects of the industry, including hiring and purchases from vendors to support manufacturing operations. The study found the Illinois manufacturing industry has an employment multiplier of 2.7, meaning that for every 10 jobs directly created by manufacturers, another 17 jobs are created elsewhere in Illinois. This multiplier effect is significantly higher than other industries in Illinois, underlying the importance of adopting policies to support growth of the manufacturing industry.

“An important takeaway from this study is the sheer size of manufacturing’s economic presence in Illinois. Every job created by a manufacturer spurs additional hiring and spending across multiple industries in the state. These secondary economic effects, known as the multiplier effect, represent additional contributions to the economy and should not be overlooked,” said Joseph C. Von Nessen, Research Economist at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina. “Because this multiplier effect is significantly higher than other industries in Illinois, future expansions of manufacturing have the potential to generate relatively higher secondary employment impacts compared to similar expansions in other sectors. The ongoing recovery from the pandemic as well as the long-term economic health of Illinois will depend on the continued success of manufacturing.”


Lake County Partners has a solid track record of helping advanced manufacturers grow in Lake County, Illinois. Connect with us here to see how we can help your business tap into our incredible talent and resources to thrive.