October 6, 2022

The state of success: key takeaways from the latest Illinois Investment Guide

Boasting the 5th largest economy in the U.S., and ranking #3 in the nation for business expansions and relocations this past year, Illinois has proven to be a state of opportunity and growth. Conway Global’s 2022 Illinois Investment Guide tells a story of perseverance and triumph over the challenges following the pandemic. This year’s guide gives fresh insights into the path to success that Illinois has paved and what the state has accomplished in the last year.

Culture of Innovation

Every year, more engineers graduate from Illinois universities than MIT, Stanford and Caltech combined. With 12 world-class research universities, 24,000 STEM graduates annually and a network of research parks and incubators, Illinois has earned its reputation as a hub for innovation.

“Our state’s success is fostered by a government that understands the value of strong investments and supports our number one asset: our people. Our industries are supported by the most talented, highly educated, highly skilled and dedicated workforce in the entire nation,” Illinois Governor JP Pritzker writes in the guide.

Thanks to this growing pipeline of engineers right at home and an instilled entrepreneurial spirit, Illinois is witnessing rapid growth in major sectors like food and beverage, logistics and transport and in emerging sectors such as quantum computing and fintech. The guide points to startups driving innovation across a range of industries and inspiring new integrations between companies. For example, new life science and health tech/IT companies are emerging and contributing to the steady growth of pharmaceutical manufacturing and medical equipment manufacturing. Twelve tech firms had valuations of $1 billion or greater last year.

Booming Business

Home to 36 Fortune 500 companies and more than 2,000 international firms, Illinois’ business climate proves to be an environment where corporations and job seekers thrive. As the guide points out, some 480 companies expanded or relocated in Illinois in 2021, making Illinois 3rd in the nation for such projects. Even on the heels of COVID, 200,000 new companies sprung up, breaking the state’s record for business formations. In the spring of 2022, the state was able to recover almost all jobs that were lost to the pandemic, inciting a huge comeback in the job market. Illinois’ key assets continue to draw suppliers and businesses looking to expand. The state consistently lands more major facility investments than 90% of the country, the guide notes.

“We have a diversified economy,” says Sylvia Garcia, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, in the guide. “A lot of this has to do with the environment we are creating in Illinois – one that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The Place to Be (At the Center of Everything)

BridgeWhen it comes to infrastructure, Illinois can’t be beat. The guide breaks down the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) annual report card on the nation’s infrastructure, grading Illinois higher than the national average.

“Innovations and modernizations are emerging from every corner of the state across every mode of movement. And improving the quality of that infrastructure is improving the overall quality of the state’s economy,” the guide notes in its summary of the ASCE report.

The business community is noticing. CNBC named Illinois as the best in the nation for infrastructure and praised its reliable power grid, unbeatable access to air travel and broadband connectivity. With Illinois’ vast transportation, distribution and logistics resources, businesses have a direct line to the global supply chain. Being at the center of the country, companies can take advantage of having quick access to the entire North American market, which is reachable in four hours or less by direct flight. Illinois has five international airports and a total of 12 major airports with 1,400 daily departures, the third largest interstate highway system in the U.S., and all seven Class I railroads.

Investing for the Future

As the state works to ensure the continued success of the economy, speed the transition to sustainable energy, and foster the next generation of workers, Illinois is establishing itself as a base for the electric vehicle (EV) industry. The state has moved quickly to roll out new policies and incentives to help EV manufacturers and attract microchip production. To support growing demand for advanced manufacturing talent, Illinois has invested $15 million in two new training academies to educate the workforce of the future.

The state is laying the groundwork for established and growing businesses to plant a stake and make a lasting impact, and the guide enforces that they should look no further than Illinois.

Check out the full guide here.

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