Illinois: International Reach From America’s Heartland

The Land of Lincoln is now the fifth-largest exporting state in the U.S., shipping more than $48.73 billion worth of goods.

Even in today’s technology-driven global economy, where you locate your business is still an important consideration when looking to expand operations and reach new markets. And, like no other location in the world, the state of Illinois—and its largest city, Chicago—offer many advantages. Chicago, the financial and commercial heart of the state, offers a variety of resources and advantages for companies operating or conducting business. The recent acquisition of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) by The CME Group solidifies Chicago as a world capital for futures and options trading.

The state of Illinois offers many advantages as well. The state is located in the geographic center of the U.S., which makes it a natural and cost-effective place for storing and distributing products regionally, nationally and internationally. In fact, more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies operate major distribution centers in Illinois, and Chicago ranks fourth in the number of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. More than 2,000 miles of interstate highway cross the state, including three coast-to-coast interstate highways. Illinois is home to two of the nation’s largest rail gateways in Chicago and East St. Louis; 1,118 miles of navigable waterways that offer direct links to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico; state-of-the-art intermodal facilities and ports; and the second-largest airport system in the U.S. with 118 airports, 273 heliports and more than 1,000 aviation facilities. The crown jewel is Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, through which 1.7 million tons of cargo and 76 million travelers pass each year. Likewise, data transport is extremely efficient in Illinois. Hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber optic cable have been installed and virtually the entire state has digital switching capability. As proof of the state’s strategic advantages, Illinois ranks as the top location in the Midwestern U.S.—and fourth in the nation—as a destination for foreign direct investment. About 1,576 foreign companies have chosen to locate their 5,330 facilities in Illinois.

Illinois is the fifth-largest exporting state in the U.S. Direct exports totaled more than $48.73 billion worth of goods in 2007, a 15.8% increase over the previous year and 7.1% of Illinois’ Gross State Product, according to data released from WISER, the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research, which compiles its information from the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. Exports have historically accounted for more than 15% of Illinois’s GSP growth during the past 10 years and export trade supports more than 500,000 jobs. The $48.73 billion the state exported in 2007 was an increase of $6.65 billion from 2006, and a nearly 36% increase over 2005. This total is nearly 4% higher than the national average of 12%. Illinois exports have increased close to 90% from the 2002 export figure of $25.69 billion.

Illinois is a great location for quality employees. The state offers a diverse, well-trained workforce, as nearly half of the six million workers in Illinois are professionals or skilled technicians. Illinois also ranks fourth in the nation and second in the Great Lakes region for value-added productivity in manufacturing. Productivity in the state outperforms other Great Lakes states by $6.71 per hour.

Illinois is competitive in a variety of industries and has earned a reputation for being a global leader in biotechnology. In 2010 Chicago will host BIO 2010, which marks the second time the “Olympics” of biotech will come to the Midwest. The annual BIO convention is the industry’s largest gathering of researchers, major international and domestic biotech corporations, start-ups, regulators and investors.

Springfield: The Middle of Everywhere

A large labor pool of skilled workers in the greater Springfield, IL metro area offers considerable advantages for companies seeking a business location with economical operating costs. The area’s prime location in the heart of the Midwest provides strategic access to markets across the U.S.

“The Springfield community values the companies located here, with public and private sectors committed to helping existing and new businesses thrive and grow,” says Tim Rogers, vice president of business attraction and development. “That commitment is a big reason why many world-class companies have chosen to locate and expand their operations in the greater Springfield area.”

The Quantum Growth Partnership, which is the area’s economic development initiative, recognizes that expansion and location decisions are driven by sound business principles. For that reason, Springfield economic representatives are prepared to demonstrate how a Springfield location makes good business sense.

“A freight model and cost comparison report developed by Jacobs Carter Burgess and the area labor availability report from the Pathfinders group address workforce and operating costs for a client’s project,” says Rogers. “The impressive economic advantages that result from establishing a base of operations in Springfield become immediately evident.”

The Quantum Growth Partnership can be aggressive in addressing the real estate needs of a business through the property it has optioned and robust TIF programs. More details comprising those reports, and a wealth of other area information, are available at

Illustrative of recent successes, H. D. Smith Wholesale Drug Company has committed to a $50-million corporate campus in Springfield. The proposed expansion will add 600 new jobs to the economy, sustain 572 other positions in other businesses, and create $330.7 million in new wealth over five years.

The Quantum Growth Partnership (Q5) proudly provided support for the project, with Q5 staff working to secure the economic impact analysis. The Q5 Initiative pledged its support and advocacy for the firm’s project as it makes its way through the city and county approval process. Additionally, Q5 will work on the firm’s behalf to be sure that its effort to draw a well-qualified workforce is well supported.

M.J. Kellner Foodservice invested $8.7 million in a new state-of-the-art facility in Springfield. The new 90,000-square-foot facility is located in the I-72 Business Park. M.J. Kellner will employ approximately 100 people at its Springfield facility. Q5 staff worked closely with company representatives and staff from the City of Springfield to address issues such as extension of the Enterprise Zone, property tax abatement from the New Berlin School district, and extension of International Parkway. The greater Springfield metro area offers businesses an attractive package of incentives, a central U.S. location, strong transportation infrastructure, skilled and available labor, low operating costs, reliable power, and an excellent quality of life.

Wheeling: Heart of Chicagoland

Located in Chicago’s prestigious north suburban market, Wheeling, IL is enhancing its standing as one of the region’s hottest business centers. Wheeling is in the heart of the Chicago area, a region companies’ value for its central location to markets across the nation. Within 19 miles northwest of downtown Chicago and nine miles north of O’Hare International Airport, Wheeling’s central location in the region makes it a natural location for business owners. Wheeling has successfully leveraged its transportation amenities to become a magnet for corporate, hospitality, and manufacturing industries. With two interchanges and direct access to I-294 (Tri-State Tollway) and Illinois Route 53, Wheeling businesses enjoy easy roadway access to and from destinations throughout the Midwest. Rail service in the community provides freight service to its business parks, and commuter service to the Wheeling Metra train station, offering convenient transit options for the region’s workforce.

In addition, Wheeling is co-owner of neighboring Chicago Executive Airport, which handles nearly 200,000 private and corporate flights each year. The airport offers a flight training school and an additional transportation option for executives in the region. Wheeling is an entertainment destination for diners and shoppers in the area. Home to the renowned ‘Restaurant Row’ along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor, Wheeling offers dozens of opportunities for unique, upscale dining. New entertainment businesses plan to join the restaurant community in this lively district next year.

Community educational institutions include National Louis University, Harper College, and Solex College, which complement the acclaimed educational opportunities the Chicagoland area is known for.

Wheeling is home to 40,000 residents and was honored earlier this year by Family Circle magazine, which named Wheeling “One of the Top Places in the U.S. to Raise a Family.” Wheeling received this honor due to its globally diverse population, educational system, parks and recreation opportunities that provide an outstanding quality of life for families and businesses alike. Wheeling also was awarded an Illinois Governor’s Home Town Award in 2008 in recognition of the active volunteer spirit in the community. The local government administration is aggressively encouraging the development of new retail and industrial businesses and has implemented a number of incentive and financing programs to encourage its continued growth.

The Village’s Economic Development Department regularly monitors local real estate conditions and maintains an updated list of available buildings and land development opportunities. The Village encourages inquiries about site availability and has professional staff at hand to assist your company in finding a home for your business in Wheeling.