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Looking Ahead: Business Growth in the US in 2019

Economic Growth

At the 2018 EY Strategic Growth Forum, the advice given to the invite-only annual conference for leading US-executive leaders was based on the following key elements:

  • Establish a purpose
  • Create a solid foundation
  • Contemplate the future
  • Customer prioritization.

Steve Costello summed up some more of the outcomes of the conference.  He speaks about the advice given from jewelry designer Kendra Scott on the importance of setting up an advisory board.  This is important, not necessarily for advice but to maintain a strong system of checks and balances.  She advised:

“Report to them quarterly like a public company and have biannual planning meetings with them.  We all have biases, so select balanced, deep thinkers who’ve known you a long time and can easily identify your blind spots.Like your best mentors, they’ll give you the perspective you don’t want to hear.”

co-founder of the organic baby food brand Once Upon a Farm Jennifer Garner advises using the business you establish to help fund causes dear to your heart.  She explained:

“I’m in business because I’m sick of asking people for money. I … generate money by getting people to buy a product that helps them and can help someone else.” And she has proceeds of her company donated to the Ron Finley Project which provides healthy food and access to urban gardens in underserved LA communities.

Regarding stocks,it is anticipated that there will be a “modest recovery” next year mainly due to “pressure from higher interest rates and concerns about peaking earnings growth. Investing in smaller, domestically focused companies had been among the most popular strategies in 2018, as tariff tensions and a fiscal stimulus boost made them into safe havens.” 

In fact, many economic experts anticipate a And in general, US economic growth is expected to be very small next year, with an even deeper drop in growth levels in the second quarter.  Thankfully few believe that it is likely to result in a huge recession.

Spurring Solar Solutions

Illinois is increasingly moving toward solar power for its energy sources.  The costs of the equipment used is significantly lower and the state of Illinois is so encouraging of the transition, that it offers many attractive incentives to move over.

One of the most popular solar markets today in Illinois are those that are in conjunction with farmers.  In these cases, the farmers benefit too.  They lease the solar companies some of their property which is used to cultivate solar energy and they get money for this as it is in place of crop growing.

The agrarians are needed to facilitate this process as they are the ones lining up the solar panels in the most efficient way to absorb the sun’s rays.  The energy then gets transported to the closest power substation, being absorbed into the power supply.  Ultimately this is a good business deal for landowners and solar companies.

Within Chicago itself, a recent statement given by the Sierra Club promised that they will be conjoining into a “new community coalition working to move Chicago to a 100 percent clean, renewable energy future.  The Club’s Ready for 100 Action Campaign organizer Krya Woods added:

“The Ready for 100 Chicago Collective stands ready to advocate for bold policy that will bring the greatest economic, environmental, and social benefit to communities across Chicago. A new energy economy can create jobs, save money through energy efficiency and phasing out fossil fuel, and empower our residents to participate in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of strategies that will most effectively address our communities’ needs. We are here to address how we power this city and who has power in this city.”

Civil Rights Issues

The establishment of a fourth transition committee has been announced by J. B. Pritzker as an advisory board on matters of civil rights.  To be known as the Committee on Equality, Equity and Opportunity, Marca Brista, Marty Castro and Kim Hunt will take equal responsibility for guiding the committee in the capacity as co-chairs of the 25 members.  They are all currently involved in related endeavors (Access Living; Casa Central and Pride Action Tank).

According to Lt. Gov-elect Juliana Stratton, the committee’s role is to really listen “to the communities across Illinois who haven’t been heard or who’ve experienced systemic disinvestment.”  She should know.  Being the country’s first Democratic Lieutenant Governor-elect in the 2018 election as well as the first ever black woman to be elected to that position in Illinois, Stratton couldn’t be more apt for her work on this committee. She added:

“The Committee on Equality, Equity and Opportunity will tackle civil rights issues in our state and work to ensure Illinois can protect children and families from dangerous policies from the federal government.”

Best Places for Business Events

When searching for a place to conduct business meetings, conferences and events in the Rosemont area, the Crowne Plaza Rosemont offers a great solution. In this video, we take a look at the conference center located at 440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018. Offering 55,000 square feet of meeting space in the conference room, each hotel room is likewise amenable for business endeavors with flat screen LCD HDTV, desk and laptop safe.

Illinois is a great place for networking, business opportunities and technology. Featuring the Illinois Technology Association and the current Feed Technology Center being undertaken by the University, it makes a great choice for conducting business.

Chicago: Office Expansions

Industrious (a co-working firm) will be opening its largest location in Chicago.  The address is the 10th floor of 500 W. Madison Street and the space is 46,500 square feet. It is due to open in the summer of 2019.  In addition, Novel Coworking is also opening – at a River North building spanning 50,400 square feet offering private offices, suites and co-working spaces at W. Superior Street.

And that’s not all. Google is developing its presence in Chicago with a second building right near its current one in Fulton Market.  This will open in the fall of next year at Carpenter and Lake Streets and will measure 100,000 square feet.  At the same time, Facebook is planning on moving 250,000+ square feet of space in a 35-story office tower in the area as well.

 

Chicago Tech Companies

Last month, $205 million was raised in funding by technology companies in Chicago.  This trend began back in August when $199 million raised and September figures was $182 million.  Here we take a look at industries that are making these impacts.

A new initiative in Illinois is being launched for self-driving car technology. A human driver will have to sit in the car in case of emergencies but there will be a robot chauffeur “driving” the car. This new technology is however likely to seriously reduce traffic fatalities.

Another technology firm making an impact in Chicago is Rooam which is due to open before the end of the year.  The company – which recently purchased Tally – gives users the ability to pay for food and drinks at various eateries via an app.

Chicago Real Estate Updates

Fall in Chicago always looks good but now it’s also looking quite attractive for those in the real estate industry.  According to a recent report from a local consulting firm Tracy Cross & Associates, new home sales were 3% higher this September than last.  There was a decline however, but that was in the median price of new homes – a drop to under $350,000 in Q2 2018 and Q3 2018.

Tracy Cross’ EVP Erik Doresching explains this as being “from builders trying to gain some momentum [who were attempting to reverse a rather sluggish beginning to 2018, when year-over-year sales were down seven percent.”

Nationwide however, Chicago isn’t faring so well.   In 2017 it was ranked 42 (out of 79 largest real estate markets) but this year it dropped to 49.  Perhaps more noteworthy and concerning is that in 2016 it came in at Number 19.

Still, within the Chicago real estate industry there is some good news.  For a mere $1, lots are available for purchase within the city.  4,000 of these are up for offer – spaces currently owned by the city throughout the South, Southwest and West.  Thanks to the Chicago Large Lots Program (established by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2015), 2,000 lots have already been sold which are being utilized to “create new social spaces and to grow flowers and vegetables.”

Local Industry Events

The American Institute of Architects Chicago chapter hosts the Art & Architecture Chicago Design Night event, which is happening tonight.  Kick off is at 5:30pm (cocktail hour in the Lakeview Terrace) and is held at the Navy Pier, Aon Grand Ballroom at 840 East Grand Avenue.  It is the 63rd year this event is taking place and it has been sold out for weeks.   Attending will be approximately 1,000 industry professionals, in recognition of the achievements of those in the architectural field.

On Thursday November 1 from 6-8pm at the Parlor Pizza Bar, 108 N. Green Street, there is an event for all “Illinois Green Alliance Emerging Professionals.”  There will be an opportunity to Meet the EP Committee as well as learning how to get involved for next year.

Chicago’s Food Industry

Chicago’s food industry is busting at the seams as it were.  It is “quickly becoming a hotbed of investment for startups in the food industry, befitting the city’s legacy of being the world’s hog butcher and stacker of wheat.”

Some recent trends include the merge between Kellogg and Conagra Brands, resulting in the provision of $34 million to set up the Hatchery – a food business incubator – due to open in November.  Kraft Heinz recently established the Evolv Ventures Fund, which is the world’s “fifth-largest packaged food and beverage company.”  According to investor and fund leader Bill Pescatello, the fund is: “about how can we be smarter, connect with startups and get a first look at emerging technologies. The distribution channels are being absolutely disrupted, with Amazon selling direct to consumers and doing delivery, along with Instacart. We’ll be heavily involved in investing in those areas.”

According to Pritzker Group VC Partner Matt McCall:

“The Midwest has the deepest bench strength in the world in food and ag. Fragmentation is the No. 1 enemy of an ecosystem. So if you can create clusters of resources and players focused on the same sector, you get a compounding flywheel.”

However, there is one question that leads to cause for concern:  can the current economic (aging) demographic utilize the burgeoning food industry?  According to the NPD’s study, Eating Patterns in America, while it is true the US economy is on an upswing, due to its “aging population and corresponding changes in life stage,” this will likely lead to a drop in “total eating occasions on a per capital basis.”  The growth of the population is not likely to be huge and that will lead to a “less than one percent annual increase in total food and beverage demand, which isn’t significant enough to stop the decline in consumption occasions per capita.”  As NPD food industry advisor David Portalatin noted:

Still, vis-à-vis Chicago, the food industry seems not to have taken a hit with an increase in industry startups including: Farmer’s Fridge, Fooda, RxBar, Home Chef, Simple Mills and Tovala.