Illinois: A Talent Pool With World-Class Skills

The Land of Lincoln offers a highly educated workforce and a logistics network that is hard to match.

The 19th largest economy in the world, Illinois has grown and attracted some of the most innovative and iconic companies on the planet—including Amazon, Caterpillar, Boeing and Wrigley Company—thanks to its many advantages for business and talent. Among the state’s greatest assets are its talent pool of nearly 6.5 million people—about a third of whom hold a bachelor’s degree or higher—and one of the finest transportation and logistics networks in the country. Tax credits are offered by partners at the state and local level to select companies considering alternative locations.

Intersect Illinois’ mission is to continue to bring new jobs, investment and economic prosperity to the state through dynamic partnerships and collaborations and to deliver a unified approach to economic development.

Illinois’ EDGE program provides annual corporate tax credits to qualifying businesses which support job creation, capital investment and improve the standard of living for all Illinois residents.

The non-refundable income tax credit is equal to 50 percent of the income tax withholdings of new job created in the state. This percentage increases to 75 percent if the business expansion project is located in an “underserved area” census tract which meets several criteria, including a poverty rate of at least 20 percent and an average unemployment rate that is more than 120 percent of the national unemployment average.

Tax credit amounts are calculated on a case-by-case basis. EDGE credits are processed on an annual basis, for up to 10 years, based upon employment ramp-up plans outlined by the business and agreed to by the Department.


Nestled in Chicago’s prestigious northern suburbs, the Village of Wheeling, IL, is home to over 800 businesses, leading manufacturers and a fast-growing residential market. A diverse and dynamic community of 40,000, Wheeling is located in immediate proximity to a skilled workforce and recreational amenities that many employees seek.

It’s no wonder why Wheeling is rated as the fifth-largest manufacturing employment concentration in Illinois. Transportation and accessibility play a big role as they are among Wheeling’s strongest assets. Interstate Highways 94, 90 and 294 enable the convenient delivery of products, goods and services, while also benefitting employees who seek to work closer to home. Wheeling also is served by a Metra commuter rail station located just steps from Wheeling’s new downtown. The $110 million Wheeling Town Center—a transit-oriented mixed-use development and the world-class recreational amenities in Heritage Park—is currently being developed. The development features 300 luxury residential units and 100,000 square feet of retail space. The luxury residential community, ONE Wheeling Town Center, opened in the spring of 2019 and offers resort-style amenities, including a heated pool, game room, modern fitness area, state-of-the-art lobby, 24-hour doorman service and more.

The Westin Chicago North Shore Hotel and Convention Center also is located in Wheeling, as is Restaurant Row, which offers over a dozen culinary choices and serves as a regional dining destination.

A unique feature for Chicago’s northern suburbs is the fact that Wheeling is home to Chicago Executive Airport, which is co-owned by the Village and offers customs services for international travelers. O’Hare International Airport is just nine miles away. In addition to interstate highways and nearby airports, cargo can also be shipped via the Canadian National Railway.

This allows Wheeling the opportunity to retain and recruit several major manufacturers, including Reynolds, Richelieu Foods, Clorox, SG 360° Communications, Keats Manufacturing, Champro Sports and Creation Technologies. Many of these companies also benefit from the skilled employees that live in Wheeling or close-by, which is an asset in the current tight employment market.

“Wheeling is experiencing an economic boom with over $300 million in new development projects currently underway,” Economic Development Director John C. Melaniphy, III said. “This is spurred by both its strategic location, close proximity to a skilled labor pool and the Village Board’s commitment to promoting a business-friendly community. International companies, such as Wieland Metals based in Germany, have chosen to build a new 110,000 square foot addition, while a number of other companies are also looking to expand their business footprint in Wheeling.”

Over 50 different sectors are represented in Wheeling’s diverse economic base, creating an innovative business community. Wheeling contains 14 million square feet of industrial space, with a low vacancy rate of 4.2 percent.

Within the last two years, the Village saw the construction of the first two speculative industrial development projects in Wheeling in over two decades. They provided modern amenities that industries are looking for in this ever-changing global market. Panattoni Development Company broke ground on a 162,000-square-foot spec industrial building in July of 2019. In addition, Wieland Thermal Solutions recently broke ground on a $25 million, 110,000-square-foot manufacturing facility just north of their existing facility at 457 Northgate Parkway.

Both new construction and the renovation of vacant industrial buildings may be eligible for Cook County Class 6b property tax incentives. The Village also utilizes another economic development tool, tax increment financing (TIF), to encourage economic growth in specific areas, including certain industrial areas.

Those who choose to make Wheeling home will benefit from quality parks and schools, library and park district programs and recreational activities. From bike paths along the Des Plaines River to walking and dog paths within Heritage Park next to Wheeling’s downtown, there are many opportunities located within Wheeling that make it a top choice to live, work and thrive.

“Wheeling is be the best kept secret, but may not remain that way for long. Wheeling checks all the boxes—whether it’s an employee looking to move closer to work and buy an affordable starter home or lease a quality apartment; an empty nester seeking to downsize into luxurious apartments, condos or townhomes close to top restaurants; or an executive looking to expand close to a highly skilled labor pool. It is indeed a rare find among Chicago suburbs, especially so close to the North Shore,” said Business Development Coordinator Marianthi Thanopoulos.

If you are considering opening a new business, we encourage you to consider Wheeling. While Wheeling is an established suburb of Chicago, a considerable amount of property remains available for infill commercial and industrial development.


Arlington Heights is a growing, thriving community just northwest of Chicago and home to nearly 76,000 residents with an average household income of over $100,000. One of the largest business communities in the Chicago area, Arlington Heights is home to nearly 3,000 for-profit companies, employing over 50,000 workers.

Illinois talent pool
Downtown Arlington Heights is home to hundreds of businesses and thousands of residents, and is easily accessible by Metra rail or via Arlington Heights Road and Northwest Highway. (Photo: Village of Arlington Heights)

Arlington Heights’ position in the Chicago market is second-to-none. Two Metra commuter rail stations link it to Downtown Chicago and a host of other northwest suburban municipalities, hosting one of the Metra’s most traversed stations with over 2,300 daily boardings. The community also is served by three interstate highways: I-90, I-290 and I-355, and conveniently located only 10-15 minutes from O’Hare International Airport and 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.

Arlington Heights is a great corporate destination. In 2016, HSBC relocated to the community, bringing 1,500 jobs and re-occupying over 160,000 square feet of formerly vacant space. Other major companies such as GE Healthcare, Northrop Grumman, AT&T and Paddock Publications (which publishes The Daily Herald, one of America’s 75 largest newspapers by circulation) employ hundreds within the community.

Retail also thrives in Arlington Heights. In 2018, the community conducted over $1.27 billion in retail sales. Rapidly-growing grocery chain Mariano’s, which now boasts over 30 locations throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area, opened its very first store here. Arlington Heights also is an attractive location for industry. Currently under construction is a 330,000-square-foot spec industrial facility that is less than a mile from I-90.

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 recently-renovated 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.

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 nearly 1,000 residential units, a 115-room hotel and also retail, restaurant and entertainment 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 Chicagoland destination. Arlington Downs is being developed in phases: One Arlington Apartments, was recently completed and hosts 25N Coworking, a 15,000-square-foot private and shared workspace venue. Also approved in 2019 is Arlington 425, a mixed use development with apartments and 35,000 square feet of commercial space.

As part of the community’s efforts to grow and support commerce and industry, Arlington Heights 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 $20,000. 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 up to 50 percent of the local sales tax that they generate to reinvest in their business.

Arlington Heights offers an exceptional quality of life. Its high school students attend six of the State’s top 40 public high schools, according to U.S. News & World Report. Robert Morris University offers a satellite campus 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 Arlington Heights Park District and its 50+ public parks, as well as Northwest Community Hospital.

Arlington Heights features a unique, vibrant and award-winning Downtown offering an enticing urban lifestyle with high-rise living and more than two dozen shops and boutiques.

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