Local businesses grow and thrive via their communities, making them a different organism than their larger-scale counterparts. In Chicago, small businesses are doing especially well due to the efforts of numerous professionals and the local residents. According to members of Forbes Chicago Business Council, there are several approaches that have made small businesses in Chicago so successful:
Partnerships with other local startups. According to Ben Margolit of Rentgrata, Inc., networking and exploring partnerships with other businesses cultivate relationships that have the potential to stimulate significant growth, especially when both organizations share a similar target customer base.
Transit advertising. Seemingly old-fashioned, advertisements places on trains and other means of public transportation generated a lot of traffic for Augmented Retail Company, according to Anne-Marie Kovacs. She also listed social and influencer marketing as impactful tools.
Joining the local tech scene proved valuable to Devbridge Group, according to Aurimas Adomavicius, allowing the company to generate organic referrals and efficiently meet their clients’ needs.
Showcasing stories. An alumni blog series captured the essence of Victory Lap’s graduates, allowing their story to stand out and their content to be seen by a wider audience, according to Brian Bar.
Events and relationships. Nothing beats natural interactions and personal referrals when it comes to building up a reputation. According to Bobby Goodman of Truss, attending events and meeting other startup teams helped the company cultivate strong relationships and generate new business.
Organizing events and tours. According to Ross Freedman of Rightpoint, sponsoring and speaking at industry-focused events and summits grants immeasurable exposure and legitimacy to a company as well as invaluable insights and knowledge into different business ecosystems.
Measuring in at 104.6 on the Flash Index for February, there was optimism abound in Illinois at the economic status. This was an increase of a fifth of a point from January, according to the University of Illinois’ economic gauge. And, according to economist Fred Giertz, this figure is the highest it has been since May 2017. With it, the unemployment rate of 4.9 is low too. He said:
“The Illinois economy is doing very well, especially compared to years ago, when we had the recession and major slow-down. But we’re not doing as well as the rest of the country.”
Giertz added that in general, the trends in the Illinois economy is positive, pointing out that this is proof of “an upward trajectory. Unemployment has been going down, but we haven’t move as fast as the national economy. It’s probably not going to propel the economy and the stock market upward in a kind of rapid expansion that seems to be true or what people thought the last couple of months or so.”
In addition, assistant vice president and economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, William R. Emmons said that the Midwestern Illinois economy is at “peak performance. In fact, if anything we may be a little bit past peak performance. The unemployment rate is at the level that is close to ideal, that’s not zero necessarily, there is always some unemployment as people move between jobs.”
Measuring in at 104-point-one at the end of last year, the Flash Index from Illinois University’s final reading supports a ‘slow and steady’ prediction for the region’s economy. The figure – a decrease of one tenth of a percent from November – is still on a growth spurt as anything more than 100 is indicative of an escalating economy.
However, despite this, Fred Giertz, an economist with the University of Illinois, thinks the growth is actually slower than the rest of America’s economy. This could in part be due to Illinois’ “unsettled politics and finances.” He believes that:
“The bad news is it could have been a lot better and the good news is it could have been a lot worse. So, I think we’re moving along all right and maybe things will start growing faster in the New Year.”
Meanwhile, specifically in Chicago, the city’s “post-recession rebound” is much greater than its neighboring suburbs. In 2017, the number of private sector jobs there got to the highest ever level in more than two-and-a-half decades. According to preliminary data published by the Illinois Department of Employment Security there was a 16.6 percent increase in 2017 since 2010 (during the Great Recession), way above the national 15.7 percent average growth.
Illinois University found in its November’s (monthly) Flash Economic Index that there is slow and steady growth in the state’s economy. There was an increase of 3/10th of a point to 104-point-two from October, marking the end of a five-year low. Fred Giertz, who is an economist at the University, said that anything over 100 means growth and while it is “not [an] explosive growth” but still impressive and similar to what the economy has gone through nationwide in the last two quarters (3 percent).
In Will County, there has been impressive economic development too. According to the Will County Center for Economic Development’s President and CEO, John Greuling, this year, Will County witnessed the creation of an additional 6,200 jobs, 21 million more square feet of space, $900 million in new investment and 40 business expansions.
Amazon, Ikea and General Mills built new warehouses, and the University of St. Francis and Joliet Junior College constructed new facilities. Silver Cross broke ground on a new 100-bed behavioral health center, Mars Candy moved into a 1.4 square foot complex, and four other 1 million square foot sites were built on speculation, he said. It all demonstrates a “high confidence” in Will County’s market, Greuling said.
Meanwhile for those looking to make some extra cash over the festive period, Rockford UPS is hiring. They are looking for around 2,000 people in full- and part-time capacities as drivers, helpers and packers.