Illinois – A Choice Location

30 Oct, 2017

By: Mark S. Peterson

In today’s business climate, numerous factors will lead to a decision regarding a business’ new location. Illinois’ central location, abundant water and natural resources, world-class transportation and logistics network, low-cost and reliable energy sources, highly educated workforce and robust innovation ecosystem make Illinois a clear choice for job creation.

Illinois Draws Talent
Its Midwestern location is also a draw to both people and businesses. Illinois offers abundant outdoor amenities with over 6,000 restaurants, more than 600 music venues, over 500 museums and art galleries, over 300 food festivals, more than 250 music festivals, 120 state parks, over 50 designated state historic sites and more. This leads to an exceptional quality of life for people of all ages and backgrounds. This makes the location a magnet for attracting and keeping talent.

One of Illinois’ leading resources is its workforce. The state has over 6.6 million people in the workforce, with over 39.4 percent of adults over the age of 25 holding an Associate’s degree or higher. A little under 1.5 million of those workers are focused on management, sales and business support. With over 200 higher education institutions statewide (three of which are in the Top 30 universities in the country) and over 80 nationally ranked public high schools, the Illinois workforce is highly educated and ready to put their minds to work. For example, the University of Illinois graduates more engineers each year than MIT, Stanford and Cal Tech combined and Illinois has two of the Top 10 MBA programs in the world (University of Chicago and Northwestern).

Additionally, many of these institutions have partnered with incubators or businesses to created skills-training programs, such as the UIUC Research Park, Argonne National Lab, Illinois Science and Tech Park and America’s Urban Campus to name a few. These include over 900 management operations training programs and over 20 retail and merchandising management training programs.

The state is full of people willing and wanting to work and grow. Its talent is combined with an infrastructure system that is rated in the top of the country every year. It is clear why Illinois is rated the No. 2 state for business creation by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From lush natural landscapes to tall skyscrapers, from lakes and rivers (and all ports in between), Illinois has many resources to offer investors and business.

Illinois – A Headquarters and Infrastructure Capital
As a global headquarters hub and global economic powerhouse, Illinois is home to the headquarters of 37 Fortune 500 and 14 global 500 companies, 241 companies on the Inc. 5000 list and 29 S&P 500 companies. Illinois has the largest business services sector in the Midwest, over 40 percent greater than the next state, with over 50,000 establishments in business and professional services, including well over 100 companies employing more than 500 people in the state. Chicago itself was recently named the No. 1 metro for new and expanding companies.

These services and the Illinois workforce support a growing economy that is connected by world-class infrastructure able to get products and goods out of the state and into the hands of consumers fast. Illinois sits at the crossroads of the U.S. economy. With its triple-hub airport system, Illinois lays within a four-hour flight to all major North American destinations. Its airports see the most nonstop overseas flights in the country, with 65 International destinations and the most International cargo traffic. Additionally, Illinois’ 146K miles of highway allow truck access to over 70 percent of eastern U.S. locations in 13 hours or less, with over 75 percent of the U.S. population lying within two-day ground delivery. Illinois has the third-largest Interstate highway system in the United States, with its truck transportation industry ranking third in the U.S. with $6.9 billion in economic output. It is the only state with all seven Class 1 Freight railroads. Illinois’ two major inland ports and 14 waterway ports also give suppliers access to the Gulf of Mexico the Atlantic Ocean.

Illinois is also looking toward the future of infrastructure. Chicago is a global data network hub, with virtually every major data network in the world intersecting in the city. For example, Starlight Exchange Facility, which interlinks all major advanced research networks worldwide, is based on over 100 10-gbps paths that run through Chicago. Starwave, the world’s first multi-100 gigabytes exchange is also located in the city and has capacity for switching more terabytes per second than any other communications facility in the world. This propels Chicago and the state to the forefront of the tech world and continue to power innovation.

Illinois – On an International Level
Foreign direct investment (FDI) plays an essential role in ensuring U.S. economic growth and prosperity, creating highly compensated jobs, spurring innovation and driving exports. Companies see the USA as an investment in a competitive advantage – access to American markets, a skilled workforce, a climate of innovation, a thriving capital market and a stable business environment. Foreign-owned companies are vital contributors to Illinois’ economy and a new source of revenue. Illinois is a diverse state and has a long history of international culture and cooperation. Illinois has over 40 distinct ethnic communities with populations of over 35,000. More than 80 consulates have offices across the state and share their heritage and history with their local communities. Because of these valuable and robust international business resources and more, it’s no surprise that Illinois has an expansive FDI network. Over 1,800 foreign companies have a presence in Illinois; a network that has created an industry worth $100 billion. These companies have helped to spur Illinois to the 17th-largest economy in the world.

Over 639 Japanese companies have recognized Illinois’ assets and have established over 1,200 facilities across the state, employing over 49,000 Illinoisans. By attending trade shows and trade summits, such as SelectUSA, Intersect Illinois and its economic development partners can seek out face-to-face meetings and engage in relationship building with those in the FDI field, from site selectors to business leaders. In the next year, Intersect Illinois, a privately funded non-profit with the sole purpose to position the State of Illinois as one of the most innovative locations in the world, will develop and implement a comprehensive FDI strategy, with a jobs mission to Asia as its focal point. With the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association occurring in Tokyo in September, Intersect Illinois will join Governor Rauner on this mission, utilizing this opportunity to bring together political and business leaders to foster new business relations. These jobs missions are ideal opportunities to meet in-person with organizations that already have a presence in Illinois as well with potential new companies looking to set up shop in America.

In Illinois, your business will meet its greatest opportunity for success due to its proven strength across multiple industries, exceptional and abundant talent, unparalleled infrastructure network and strong public support and partnerships. The choice for Illinois is clear.   T&ID