Minah Hall Quoted: Lake County Partners Teams with ComEd to Host 1st Economic Development Boot Camp
Originally published at LakeCountyPartners.com
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.”