Illinois: A Natural Leader

By BF Staff
From the July/August 2015 Issue

Illinois has a more than $700 billion economy and is an international center of global commerce. It is a leader in industries such as clean energy, IT, advanced manufacturing and financial services with a complex transportation network of rail, interstate highways, ports and airports. In addition, the more than 30 Fortune 500 companies (e.g., Integrys Energy Group Inc., LKQ Corporation Inc., Boeing) that call Illinois home find that over 60 percent of the workforce has a degree beyond high school.

Illinois also offers a number of programs and services that are designed to help new and expanding businesses succeed. It provides expansion incentives, technology support services, access to capital, global marketing expertise and job training and education for workers. These resources combined with market access; an ample, versed workforce; research and technology facilities; educational institutions; and a great quality of life for companies and their employees are assets that put Illinois high on the business radar.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois is ranked No. 2 among states where businesses are being created the fastest. In the fourth quarter of 2014, the number of businesses in Illinois increased 4.7 percent to 421,908 when compared to the previous year.

One well-known company that sees the potential in the Land of Lincoln is Amazon. In October 2014 Amazon announced it would bring 1,000 full-time jobs to Illinois by 2017. The company said it planned to invest $75 million in multiple buildings.

As of now, Amazon has leased a 51,970-square-foot space on Goose Island to support same-day deliveries, as well as its new Amazon Dash service and plans to open a 475,104-square-foot distribution center in Joliet, bringing around 500 jobs to the Chicago suburb.

Arlington Heights: Unsurpassed Access

Arlington Heights is a growing, thriving community just northwest of Chicago, home to 76,000 residents with an average household income of $95,000. Access is one of the top assets the community offers to businesses. Two Metra commuter rail stations link it to Downtown Chicago and a number of other northwest suburban municipalities; Arlington Heights hosts one of Metra’s most traversed stations with over 2,300 daily boardings. It also is served by three interstate highways: I-90, I-290, and I-355 and is conveniently located only 10 miles from O’Hare International Airport and five miles from Chicago Executive Airport. Connectivity to three interstate highways allows Arlington Heights incomparable positioning within the Chicago metropolitan area and access to logistics by air and ground transport.

Recently completed luxury apartments at One Arlington represent the first phase of the $250-million Arlington Downs mixed-use development.

Several of the nation’s fastest-growing companies call Arlington Heights their home. Both Paylocity and Aurico Reports, Inc. were named to the 2013 “Inc. 5000” list, representing the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the country. Rapidly growing grocery chain Mariano’s, which now boasts over 30 locations throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area, opened its very first store there. It is also an attractive location for industry. In early 2015, SVM, a producer of gift and rewards cards for major corporations worldwide, opened their new international headquarters in Arlington Heights.

Other established businesses continue to call Arlington Heights home. Arlington International Racecourse is one of the world’s premiere horse racing venues. It has been the home of the Arlington Million, one of thoroughbred racing’s richest events, since 1981. The racetrack also is home to Ditka’s Restaurant. Co-owned by NFL legend and Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Ditka, this is the fine-dining restaurant’s third Chicagoland location. Mitsuwa Marketplace is the largest Japanese grocery store in the Midwest, serving as a destination for patrons throughout the Chicago area and servicing a large tourist population. Other notable employers such as The Daily Herald newspaper maintain their corporate headquarters in Arlington Heights, while Nokia Networks, GE Healthcare and AT&T continue to have a substantial presence in terms of footprint and employment.

Arlington Heights remains a target of significant development. The Arlington Downs project is a new and exciting addition to the Chicago market. When complete, the $250 million mixed-use development will boast over 500 luxury apartment units; a hotel, a 70,000-square-foot water park; and over 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Set on over 27 acres of land just west of Arlington International Racecourse, the development has immediate access to IL-53 and will be a unique destination in Chicagoland. Arlington Downs is being completed in phases. The first phase, One Arlington Apartments, was recently completed and is home to numerous residents enjoying an urban lifestyle with high-end amenities.

As part of the community’s efforts to grow and support commerce and industry, Arlington Heights also offers a Zero Interest Loan program available to both new and existing businesses. Interested business or property owners can apply for an interest-free loan of up to half their project cost, capping at $10,000. Eligible expenses range from the purchase of new equipment to technology upgrades to improvements of existing facilities. Retailers also are eligible for the Small Business Sales Tax Rebate program. New and growing retailers in Arlington Heights can receive a rebate of a portion of the local sales tax that they generate to be reinvested in their business.

Arlington Heights also is home to exceptional quality of life. Arlington Heights high school students attend five of the State’s top 35 public high schools, according to U.S. News & World Reports. Both Robert Morris University and ITT Technical Institute have campuses in the community as well. The Arlington Heights Memorial Library is regularly ranked among the nation’s best public libraries for its size and has been given “five stars” by Library Journal—the publication’s highest rating. The community also is served by the highly acclaimed Arlington Heights Park District and Northwest Community Hospital, which continues to expand its operations and services.

Arlington Heights has a unique, vibrant and award-winning Downtown that offers an enticing urban lifestyle with high-rise living and more than 30 shops and boutiques. It features nearly 40 one-of-a-kind ethnic and themed restaurants from Pan-Asian to Mexican to Spanish Tapas; is a Chicago-area destination for entertainment, hosting outdoor concerts and year-round events. The Metropolis Performing Arts Center offers concerts, comedy and live theater in an intimate setting. More development is expected within the next year with plans to break ground on Parkview Apartments. The development will feature retail space on the ground floor.

Arlington Heights provides an exceptional location for more than 3,200 businesses and nearly 50,000 workers. With outstanding quality of life and access to the entire Chicago metro area, Arlington Heights is primed to continue to grow and thrive.

Village Of Wheeling: Dynamic And Prosperous

Wheeling’s position as a dynamic business and industrial center continues to prosper. Home to over 800 businesses, it is one of the largest business-industrial hubs in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. Wheeling offers approximately 13.5 million square feet of industrial space along with several expansive industrial parks which offer room for companies to grow. The 10th Congressional District, including Wheeling, is the 3rd largest industrial concentration in the United States.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony at Alfa Controls’ new business opening was attended by U.S. 10th Congressional Rep. Bob Dold, Village President Dean Argiris and Owner Anton Koretskov. (Village of Wheeling)

More than 20,000 jobs are generated by Wheeling-based businesses, attesting to the community’s economic strength. Many of those jobs, approximately 33.5 percent are in the manufacturing sector and nearly 20 percent are in the wholesale and retail sectors.

The local economic outlook for Wheeling, Illinois appears increasingly positive over the past few quarters as reports of operations and employment expansion by existing Wheeling manufacturers continues to stream in. A review of the available space inventory reveals that Wheeling’s industrial parks continue to experience strong demand from both existing and new businesses. The vacancy rate for Chicago-area industrial space fell to 8.4 percent in the second quarter, down from 8.5 percent in the first quarter and the lowest since 2006. To view reports on available business sites by category, please visit: These are promising signs for prospective businesses, especially in the industrial sector.

One example of this activity is the more than 150,000-square-foot industrial facility located at 1234 Peterson Drive along with five acres of vacant land across the street, which was sold late in 2013 to an industrial development firm. In September 2014, the lessee, FedEx, took possession of the property. The budgeted renovations including property acquisition amounted to more than $13 million.

Local Wheeling manufacturers, ICAR Team / Precision Zone, started a third business and began substantial rehabilitation of the property at 311 Egidi Drive. The work has been completed and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held with Congressman Bob Dold. This was a $1,000,000 rehabilitation project.

Village President Dean Argiris acknowledged the importance of the role of the community’s industrial base at the ribbon cutting ceremony for this property, “The strength of our local economy is based on the wide range of industrial business that call Wheeling home. These companies make substantial contributions in property/sales taxes as well as jobs.

Wheeling also is experiencing significant investment in its airport. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is conducting over $5.9 million in runway improvements at Chicago Executive Airport. In 2014, the EMAS installation work on the southern end of the 16/34 runway was completed and EMAS installation on the north end of runway 16/34 will start this summer.

Chicago Executive Airport links Wheeling to the world, with international visitors from India to Canada to South America regularly traveling through the airport. Chicago Executive Airport serves as a hub for business and industry, and as a logical magnet drawing businesses to the area. The Village plans to capitalize upon this business development asset by attracting complementary aviation and business services, hospitality and dining opportunities. An overlapping Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district offers a strategic financing mechanism for pending and proposed developments in and around the airport. The Village remains committed to the health and prosperity of this valuable resource, which represents a means by which it can extend its reach to the world. To learn more about Chicago Executive Airport, please visit

Transportation and accessibility remain among the Village’s most important assets. Interstate 294 is the eastern boundary of the Village, with interchanges at Lake-Cook and Palatine Roads. I-294 allows easy access to O’Hare International Airport, Chicago’s Loop and the interstate system. Illinois 53, just west of Wheeling via Lake-Cook and Dundee Roads, also leads to the interstate system. North–South Routes U.S. 45 and Illinois 83 offer easy access to other Chicago Metro communities. O’Hare airport is directly accessible via I-294, 20 minutes from town. Commuter rail transportation is available to Wheeling residents, employees and visitors via the Metra North Central Line at the Wheeling Metra Station, which has regular service to and from Chicago’s Union Station, O’Hare Airport and suburban communities further north.

Wheeling, Illinois represents a diverse economic base representing more than 50 different sectors and an integrated, innovative business community. For more information about available sites and locating in Wheeling, please contact John Melaniphy, Director of Economic Development at or (847) 499-9087.

Innovation In DuPage County

A focus on innovation and collaborative, strategic partnerships has placed DuPage County, IL at the top of the list as a premier, global business location with sustainable economic development throughout the county.

DuPage County is constantly growing and evolving. Under the leadership of County Chairman Dan Cronin, Choose DuPage, a public-private partnership that serves as the primary driver of economic development in the county, is leading the charge to keep DuPage at the top of the economic growth ladder in the region. Today, the county has grown into a diversified, thriving collection of 39 municipalities that is receiving growing interest for businesses and their employees looking to relocate. DuPage County’s low commercial property taxes, proximity to O’Hare International Airport and a highly educated workforce are among the reasons why the county is consistently chosen as a business location.

DuPage County also serves as the primary location of the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor, home to many Fortune 1000 and 500 companies, including McDonald’s, Navistar and Dover Corp. The diversification of business sectors within the county is astounding, with businesses spanning agriculture, utilities, financial services, transportation and more.

Recent success stories include:

  • The Illinois Chapter of the ESOP Association, a national trade association for companies with employee stock ownership plans (ESOP) and the leading voice in America for employee ownership, recently named Shorr Packing Corp. its 2015 ESOP Company of the Year. Shorr, a longtime Choose DuPage board member, is an industry-leading, award-winning distributor of packaging products, equipment and services. The firm represents the best-known packaging product manufacturers and brands in the industry and is one of the largest independent packaging distributors in the nation.
  • ComED and Schneider Electric recently announced a partnership to deploy a new program that puts power in customers’ hands to share their energy usage data.
  • The Oakbrook Executive Plaza, located at the east end of Oakbrook, Illinois, the gateway to downtown Chicago, was recently purchased by a developer who is in the midst of renovating and rebranding the property to attract the growing millennial workforce who desire to move to the suburbs and their employers who are looking for the agreeable business climate that DuPage County provides. The property, built in the 1960s, will be completely renovated to include amenities that are desirable in today’s evolving workplace: WI-FI lounges, collaborative workspaces and more. As the marketplace is saturated with dated inventory, instead of building new, costly developments, developers are becoming more innovative with their offerings. Once the renovated property is complete, it will become the standard for office space in the region.

The spirit of business growth and innovation is baked into the county’s DNA. The passion for developing cutting-edge business, networks and services continues with the Rev3 Innovation Center, a technology and digital manufacturing business incubator located at Northern Illinois University’s Naperville Campus.

The center, which recently celebrated its six-month anniversary, serves as the nexus for growing the level of digital innovations that help support the region’s extensive manufacturing sector.

This center provides Rev3 members the opportunity and environment to craft new, innovative solutions for the marketplace while having the benefit of connecting with established businesses/sectors to further define, disrupt and create new business models.

Western Access O’Hare provides 127 square miles of untapped opportunity. O’Hare International Airport is the nation’s second busiest airport, and serves as a vital transportation link between the Chicago region and the rest of the world. The Western Access O’Hare project will give western access to the airport with the addition of a western roadway, allowing the region to meet future transportation needs.

The increased transportation and infrastructure will bring with it a modern and diverse economic base that will transform the region. The area will become a prime location for businesses to locate and for future developments.

Consider the Benefits:

  • Location—at the heartbeat of the Midwest—the center of the nation’s busiest transportation hub
  • Land—Enough to build big
  • Workforce—Skilled competitive labor
  • Financial Benefits—Savings on fuel, time, recruitment, incentives
  • Quality of Life—It’s all here—education, entertainment, culture
  • With unparalleled proximity to the airport and major highway systems, businesses looking to locate in the newly available developments will be taking advantage of transportation gateways to the rest of the world. In an increasingly global economy, enhanced access to national and global markets, along with a reduction in delay time, will enhance the competitiveness and productivity of local businesses while facilitating economic growth.

The new DuPage County is alive and thriving. Yearly, economic indicators show that businesses and residents are prospering in the region. Private and public sector leaders alike strive to provide an environment where businesses and their employees are proud to call home. It’s no wonder why DuPage County is often referred to as the heartbeat of the Midwest.