Chicago mayor Ruben Pineda recently revealed that efforts to boost a business park in West Chicago are finally paying off.
According to Pineda, the city is teaming up with park owner DuPage Airport Authority and Choose DuPage to encourage additional growth on the 800-acre campus and “develop incentive plans for new development.”
“These efforts have led to several exciting prospects already bubbling to the surface,” Pineda said during his State of the City address.
The details of the plan have yet to be revealed, but Pineda shared several hints, including a plan to build 800,000 square feet of warehouse distribution space, as well as another 750,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution.
“For the first time in over 10 years, I have been informed that we might be running out of available property in the DuPage Business Center,” Pineda said during the address. “That, my friends, is a great problem to have.
“We are committed to our pledge to our residents and businesses to provide exceptional service and transparent government while focusing on doing what we can do to relieve the financial burden on our customers.”
Crain’s Business Chicago and Best Companies Group recently revealed Chicago’s Best Places to Work, a survey and awards program which recognizes the top 100 businesses to work for in Chicago. The choices are made based on each company’s workplace policies, practices and demographics, as well as employee survey’s which assessed their attitudes towards their workplaces.
Final scores revealed Label Insight, a leading company focused on transparency and digital transformation, as one of the winners.
“We are honored to be recognized as one of the best places to work in Chicago,” said Label Insight chief executive officer Paul Schaut. “Label Insight was founded with the mission of providing greater product transparency to consumers- and that impacts everything we do from the products we create, to the companies we partner with, to how we run our business.
“Our team believes in this greater mission and collectively works toward our broader goal of helping consumers better understand what is in the products they use and consume,” he said. “I am grateful to the tremendous Label Insight team for their outstanding contributions to our company’s growth and continued success.”
Woodfield Mall’s Microsoft Store has earmarked February as Entrepreneurship Month. Offering workshops, seminars and mentors from Score Chicago, the idea is to help individuals in the region gain insight into how start and run a business, as well as other related subjects. Community Development Specialist at the Woodfield Mall’s Microsoft Store Paula Brkich explained: Several of our business workshops feature knowledgeable speakers from SCORE Chicago, industry partners and more, who bring tremendous value to our customers” For information and to register visit: www.microsoftstore.com/Woodfield.
If you missed that though, in conjunction with the University of Chicago, President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton are hosting the (11th) annual Clinton Global Initiative University meeting. To be held at the University, the event is expected to attract over 1,000 students nationwide and worldwide. Topics discussed will be “some of the most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges facing the next generation.” The idea ultimately is for these discussions to result in “commitments to action,” ultimately bolstering local communities worldwide. Thus following the initial two days of workshops etc., the third day will be one of action whereby students will work with faculty and administrators on a priority project in one of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Talking of entrepreneurs, Chicagoan Mark Thomann is intending to bring back the drink Slice that was popular – and owned by Pepsico – in the 1990s. Via his companies Spiral Sun Ventures and Dormitus Brands, he is hoping to have the drink in stores by the end of next year. One of his changes is to make it healthier though as he explains that it will have less sugar, less calories and sweetened with “real – possibly organic – fruit juice.” Thomann added that it will be “pleasantly familiar to people of a certain age.”
Last month saw the launch of a regional economic development initiative to bolster partnership within various public sectors. It is hoped that this endeavor – the Chicago Regional Growth Corporation (CRGC) – will create growth, be mutually beneficial to participating organizations and in general boost the work of northeastern Illinois businesses.
CRGC can be used by locals for creating and developing Chicago’s identity, bolstering economic development and centralize programming. ultimately it is hoped and expected that the endeavor will fortify the economy, develop networks and connections and provide greater economic opportunity. As founding executive director of CRGC Tom Hulsman said:
“The economic growth of cities, from neighborhoods to suburbs, is highly interdependent. We have a huge opportunity to capitalize on our resources and bring all of the players to the table to set an economic development agenda that works for the entire region, with a strong emphasis on inclusive economic growth throughout all of CRGC’s programs and initiatives.”
Over in Matteson, Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin, discussed with locals about her mission to “feed the economy” there. People are very excited for this and as the Mayor pointed out, it should be “a great opportunity to share what we have in our focus for the Village and the Southland region. I’ve lived here for 35 years and I’ve seen the village grow from 10,000 to over 20,000. We’ve had some positive events and we have had some challenges,”
While Chicago ranks #3 in accommodating small businesses (boasting 230,000+ in its midst), unfortunately, the environment in which they should be thriving is not being nearly as accommodating as necessary. Given that the city’s principal banks seem to be more focused on big businesses, owners of SME’s and entrepreneurs are finding it increasingly difficult to get start-up loans from reputable sources. As such, many “alternative” lenders are filling the niche and taking advantage of this situation in a less-than-legitimate manner.
It is often minority groups who pay the price. Given that those struggling to obtain loans are usually minorities, women and veterans, vulnerability is running high. As such Chicago has to come up with a new, more trustworthy solution. One that is currently being promoted is SimpleGrowth – “the first lending platform built to strengthen the ability of Chicagoland small business owners to gain the capital they need to launch or grow their businesses.”
Should we look further afield to other parts of the state of Illinois, we find that SMEs are truly thriving. the figures speak for themselves. Currently approximately 1.2 million SMEs are in existence (lending employment to over 2.4 million individuals – comprising 46% of the private workforce). These companies are providing incredibly “innovative solutions, meeting the needs of consumers, and pursuing their own dreams.”
Other resources available include the Illinois District of the U.S. Small Business Administration which has a branch in both Springfield and Chicago. So there is good news in the Illinois area for small businesses; there just has to be more of a focus on giving a push start to struggling new firms in the Chicago region.
On November 25, the entire country was able to celebrate Small Business Saturday. Chicago was not about to miss out. Both owners of small businesses and consumers were able to benefit from what Chicago had to offer, especially at the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce. In fact, it’s one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Small Business Saturday has, over the years (since its inception in 2010), garnered a reputation for providing shoppers with better quality and more unique purchases.
Over in Bronzeville, there were around 20 local businesses that took the initiative to set up a spot where they sold their wares and which was especially useful for those selling pre-Christmas orders such as bakeries and decorative stores.
Meanwhile a new Andersonville store, Cowboys and Astronauts enjoyed great publicity as it had some great exposure. After getting into the holiday spirit on Thanksgiving, this was the perfect opportunity to take it to the next level.
Illinois-based Acquilon Energy Services has created an Energy Settlement Network using the power of Internet technology and big-data analytics to facilitate the process for firms to trade commodities such as natural gas, oil and power. Given that there has been an increase in renewable power and smart-grid technologies, more powerful mechanisms are needed to record, evaluate and affirm the exchange of energy.
Meanwhile, Kentech Consulting was awarded a contract worth $1.975 m by Baltimore’s Board of Estimates. It will use the money for its speedy process of police recruit background checks (10 times faster than city workers). This has caused a bit of a stir in Baltimore whose officials believe contracts such as these should be awarded locally.
And then there is Between States – a show in which 50 designers come together to “imagine the future of the city’s 50 aldermanic wards.” A joint venture of the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the 50 participating firms are being requested to look at Chicago’s underutilized spaces and figure out a future. The event will run until January 7, 2018.
According to a recent article by Chicago-based CPA Tom Jordan, conducting business in Illinois has many positive attractions. Business owners in the region can actually do really well. He further explains as follows:
- The third largest population and GDP in America is Chicago and Analytics suggest Chicago will continue to drive the economy. As well, it is a place filled with great talent, top educational institutes and many qualities required to drive a business.
- Strong manufacturing in the area
- America’s transportation hub with an economic output of $40.9 billion via its air transportation per the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics.
For more practical information on starting and maintaining a business in Illinois, click here.
A food trend is happening nationwide and now businesses in Chicago are part of it. Starting as a small basement project in Chicago back in the summer of 2013, a few best friends who were broke and “couldn’t believe there wasn’t a better protein bar out there” got together. It was simple and it was honest.
They were told their packaging wouldn’t work: not appetizing, just boring facts. But that’s what they did and today they just list the four ingredients on their packages:
- 3 Egg Whites
- 14 Peanuts
- 2 Dates
- No B.S.
- 3 Egg Whites
- 6 Almonds
- 4 Cashews
- 2 Dates
- No B.S.
And now, it has been purchased by Kellogg’s. For $600m.
According to a recent Forbes article by contributor Peter Wilkins, this transaction is indicative of “a growth signal for one of Chicago’s booming new industries: simple food and beverage. Simple food and beverage companies are ones that focus on producing and distributing foods with whole, pronounceable ingredients that are transparently presented and are meant to be nutritionally good for you.”
And it seems to be what consumers want. They want to be able to pronounce and recognize each ingredient on a label and are seeking out “less is more.” The businesses that are providing this seem to be increasing their revenue around three times faster, while encountering a market share increase by 1.7% with their counterparts’ share simultaneously declining 0.7%.
Other Chicagoan examples include: SkinnyPop, Mike’s Hard, Peapod, Protein Bar and GrubHub.