Illinois – A Wise Business Choice

5 Jan, 2011

By: Pat Quinn
Access to Markets, Workforce and Capital – A Distinct Advantage Whether You Are Expanding, Relocating or Starting from Scratch!

Businesses have a key competitive advantage when they have ready access to their customers, access to a world-class workforce and access to capital, including the vital public sector partnerships and incentives that help businesses grow – and being located in the middle of the United States does not hurt either. These are just some of the key advantages that make Illinois a place where businesses can compete and thrive.

Access to Markets
Access to global and domestic markets is easily accomplished in Illinois. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is the nation’s only dual hub airport. And, with over 2,000 miles of interstate highway and 34,500 miles of other state highway, transporting goods efficiently is simple in Illinois. Chicago is home to the some of the nation’s most modern and voluminous intermodal facilities in North America. This provides seamless connections for moving products, not just between the eastern and western regions of the United States, but also to and from Asia as well as from Canada and Mexico.

It’s this ready access to world markets that has helped Illinois maintain its standing as one of the top ten states – and first in the Midwest – for international trade, exporting $41.5 million in product in 2009. And with the addition of five new international trade centers throughout the state to help small business owners and entrepreneurs market themselves in the global marketplace, Illinois is well on its way to fulfilling its goal of doubling the state’s exports over the next five years.

International investors also recognize that Illinois is a place of great productivity and even greater promise. That is why Illinois ranks first in the Midwest as a destination for foreign investment. Seventy-five nations maintain consulates in the state, and more than 30 international banks have established branches or representative offices in Chicago.

Access to Workforce and an Environment That Supports Collaborative Efforts
Illinois offers resources to meet the needs of science and technology development for businesses at every growth stage, from university research partnerships to early commercialization and production, to global corporations. The state’s commitment to collaboration is unparalleled, as is evidenced by flourishing public, private and academic partnerships throughout the state. In fact, the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition ( is dedicated to building these partnerships.

One of the greatest resources for any company looking to stay ahead is a well-trained and educated workforce. Illinois boasts a 6.6 million-strong workforce, including over 1 million people who work in the biosciences and related fields. Many companies choose Illinois because of its talented workforce, easy access to key markets and positive business climate. This all explains why Illinois is home to a roster of more than 30 Fortune 500 companies with new headquarter operations in diverse industries joining our corporate ranks each year. There are many reasons why these firms have chosen to locate in Illinois, but access to markets and an executive-level workforce is part of the equation. Further, the state’s business climate and talented workforce supports innovation in credit and capital products, which is why one of the world’s highest volume futures and options exchange, CME Group Inc, calls Chicago home.

Illinois: A Leader in Science and Technology
Illinois is quickly emerging as a leader in science and technology, including a flourishing and vibrant biotechnology industry. After setting new standards for attendance, public/private sponsorship and civic engagement in 2006, the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s International Convention returned to Chicago in 2010, where a record-breaking 17,000 plus scheduled one-on-one partnering meetings took place in the BIO Business Forum. BIO recently announced that their prestigious international convention will return to Chicago in 2013 and 2016. The show’s success has been based on the same characteristics that make Illinois a great place to locate businesses - ease of access from international markets, a diverse economy supported by a talented workforce and rich cultural attractions that support a high quality of life.

Illinois is home to an ever increasing pool of healthcare innovators, ranging from early-stage drug discovery companies to diversified, global corporations. Illinois companies are developing breakthroughs in vaccines, diagnostics, cell therapies, drug delivery systems, pharma therapies, cancer therapies and numerous methods for disease prevention and treatment.

Last year, the state worked with pharmaceutical company Lundbeck, Inc, which was established in March 2009 following the acquisition of Ovation Pharmaceuticals, Inc. by H. Lundbeck A/S, to help the company keep its U.S. headquarters – and nearly 200 jobs – in Illinois. Lundbeck focuses on providing severely ill patient populations with innovative and effective therapies. They have a portfolio of 19 products in the U.S. for conditions such as Acute Intermittent Porphyria, chorea associated with Huntington’s disease, hereditary antithrombin deficiency and Wilm’s Tumor.

With the state’s abundant agricultural resources, it’s no wonder Illinois is also a world leader in agricultural research and production. The state’s agricultural scientists in the public and private sectors are working together to develop crops that reduce the use of chemical pesticides, boost the nutritional value of the world’s food supply, enable farmers to grow more food on less land, unlock the potential of biofuels and respect the environment.

With the state’s extensive network of academic and private research and top-notch facilities, Illinois is also building its position in the nanotechnology industry. The International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN) is an innovative and far-reaching collaborative venture between Northwestern University, Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Nanoscale Materials and other partners. The IIN is anchored by major research centers at Northwestern, including the Nanoscale Science & Engineering Center, the Center for Cancer Nanotechnology, and the Center for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly. Technologies developed at the IIN have been commercialized and are being used by researchers worldwide.

Top Notch R&D Facilities in Illinois
With more than 200 academic, government and non-profit research institutions, Illinois has one of the largest concentrations of research in the world. Illinois has invested heavily in its technological infrastructure. For example, a rich array of office and wet lab facilities, incubators and technology parks are available throughout the state. Equally impressive is the range and quality of research that emerges from Illinois each year. Through these collaborative efforts Illinois is strengthening its position as a major research hub and creating an environment where innovation can continue to flourish.

For more information on why Illinois is the right place for you and your business, contact the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity at 1-877-221-4403. 

About the Author

Pat Quinn