March 19, 2024

Canadian businesses can hit go by being in Illinois

By Dan Seals, CEO, Intersect Illinois 

The United States and Canada share the best and most productive trading partnership in the world, a bond that supports millions of jobs in each country. The U.S. accounts for nearly three-quarters of Canadian exports, while Canada is the top market for nearly two-thirds of American states. Clearly, the opportunities for Canadian businesses to expand in the U.S. are vast and promising. But choosing the right point of entry is critical. With a $1 trillion economy that ranks 18th in the world, Illinois is the global business destination in the heart of the U.S., with all the right elements to help Canadian businesses hit go on growth. 

Dan Seals (right), accompanied by Rocco Rosi (left) while meeting with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Centre of Innovation and many other leaders in economic development in December. Image courtesy of Intersect Illinois.

At the end of 2023, I had the opportunity to visit companies and partner organizations in Toronto. Through my conversations, it was clear that certain priorities stand out. These include access to talent and proximity to customers. It’s important to be amongst like-minded organizations with a track record of innovation. With climate change top of mind, access to reliable, sustainable energy is a must. And, there are unique opportunities for Canadian companies in specific industries such as life sciences and quantum computing to commercialize in the U.S. 

Supply Chain Connectivity

In Illinois, the advantage of our central geography is maximized by world-class infrastructure:  

  • Reach any major destination in North America by plane in four hours or less 
  • Ship products from the only state where all the largest U.S. railroads converge in two places, including routes from Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Kansas City 
  • Leverage the country’s third-largest interstate highway network and the largest master-planned inland port 

Being in Illinois ensures that Canadian companies’ goods and people can flow seamlessly around the world.  

Canadian enterprises can seize the growth prospects awaiting in Illinois’ dynamic business landscape. Image courtesy of Intersect Illinois.

Ecosystem of Like-Minded Innovators

From the first cell phone to the most advanced supercomputers, and from startups to blue chip companies, Illinois has it all. We’re home to more than 30 Fortune 500 headquarters, including ADM, McDonalds, State Farm, and Abbott, to name just a few. More than 500 Canadian companies are already operating in Illinois, including Lion Electric, Merkur, and BMO Financial. Site Selection magazine ranked Illinois second in the nation last year for company expansions. Being in Illinois means being alongside other successful Canadian businesses. 

Community of Support

Illinois is home to a collaborative community. Organizations such as MxD and mHub work with businesses across the country on digital manufacturing and increasing productivity. Argonne National Lab, Fermi

National Lab, and the University of Chicago lead the U.S. in quantum research. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative chose the state for its next Biohub, with the ambitious goal of curing, preventing, or managing diseases by the end of the century, in large part because of its collaborative and robust life sciences community. Meanwhile, a network of incubators such as 1871 turn out companies spanning IT, life sciences, agtech, and food processing. 

Unmatched Talent and Workforce

But what really makes Illinois shine is our people. Illinois graduates more engineers every year than Stanford, MIT, and Caltech combined. Not only are the University of Chicago and Northwestern University consistently ranked among the best universities in the world, our community college program is the 3rd largest in the nation, and we’re investing in our people through training programs to support jobs of the future. Our people make up one of the most diverse and productive workforces in the country, and similarly to our Canadian counterparts, they are some of the nicest folks you will ever meet.

Businesses across Canada, including those with French-speaking operations, can expand their ventures by establishing a presence in Illinois. Image courtesy of Intersect Illinois. 

Commitment to a Green Future

Illinois is committed to 100% clean energy by 2050, and at a time when water issues are a concern in many areas, the state has one of the biggest sources of freshwater in the world. Illinois has policies that make the state even more attractive for businesses that share in this commitment, such as the REV Act to attract companies in the electric vehicles and renewables sectors and the MICRO Act for semiconductors.  

Canadian Companies Can Hit Go

Intersect Illinois provides a dedicated support team to help with everything from choosing the right site to making the connections needed. In an era when speed matters, our database of vetted large sites enables easier identification of the right sites for manufacturing, logistics, and other facilities.  

 A central location served by world-class infrastructure, an environment of innovation and success, a diverse and skilled workforce, and forward-thinking policies to set businesses up for long-term success – it’s clear that there’s never been a better time for Canadian businesses to be in Illinois than right now. Let’s build on our partnership, and let’s hit go, together. 

Are you ready to be where the action is? Reach out to the Intersect Illinois team to discuss properties perfectly suited for your business.

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Are you ready to be where the action is? Reach out to the Intersect Illinois team to discuss properties perfectly suited for your business.

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