From the Desk of John A. Carpenter, A Blueprint for DuPage Prosperity
In 2015, Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance launched a 4-point plan—four strategic initiatives to further economic evolution and drive development in DuPage County. As 2017 draws to a close, I’d like to reflect on the progress of these initiatives and plans for the future.
1. Commercializing Ideas at Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne National Laboratory launched Chain Reaction Innovations (CIR) in 2016, an onsite tech incubator for science and energy entrepreneurs, and is working with Choose DuPage to attract companies that would best benefit from Argonne’s world-class facilities and research. This year, we have involved Argonne and Chain Reaction Innovations in our plans for Innovation DuPage, a new business incubator and accelerator being launched in partnership with Choose DuPage, Rev3 Innovation Center, College of DuPage, Village of Glen Ellyn, Benedictine University, Elmhurst College, and DuPage Impact LLC. As plans for Innovation DuPage progress, we hope to solidify our partnership with Argonne and Chain Reaction Innovations. Additionally, Argonne has participated in choose DuPage programs such as the Regional Business Outlook.
2. Solving the “Last Mile” Commute Problem
One persistent issue with companies that call the suburbs home is finding ways to make the commutes of office workers who choose not to drive to their jobs easier. Many office buildings aren’t conveniently located to public transit alternatives such as train stations, a problem known as the first-mile/last-mile commute. Choose DuPage has been working with Burr Ridge-based Innova EV, Hamilton Partners and the Village of Itasca to solve this problem. In 2017, Innova EV launched a pilot program using electric vehicles to get employees from the Itasca train station to the office development Hamilton Lakes. This has laid the groundwork for additional pilot programs in an effort to apply our solutions to alternate scenarios.
3. Developing and Encouraging Growth at DuPage Business Center
This 800-acre campus in West Chicago is a fertile ground for development. With a diverse communication system, accessible utilities onsite, and direct access to DuPage Airport, the campus is ideal for a variety of businesses. Earlier this year, Choose DuPage submitted DuPage Business Center as one of two in DuPage ideal for Amazon’s headquarters.
4. Facilitating Western Access to O’Hare Airport
Providing meaningful access to O’Hare from the western suburbs will transform the region—saving $145M in travel delays; creating over 13,000 jobs annually during the project; boost local tax revenues by $29M annually; and most important, lay the groundwork for the creation of 65,000 jobs by 2040.
In 2017, the Illinois Tollway opened a second stretch of road on Illinois Route 390 from I-290 to Illinois Route 83. This means that Illinois Route 390 now connects from Lake Street (U.S. Route 20) to Illinois Route 83. The completion of this project opens the opportunity to build a bypass that would connect I-90 and I-294. Choose DuPage will continue to work with the Illinois Tollway and DuPage County towards the completion of this critical bypass, and ultimately on delivering meaningful access to O’Hare.
In addition to these successes, we’ve also welcomed many new businesses to DuPage County in 2017:
- Just this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics moved into their new, five-story, 183,000 square-foot office building in Itasca, bringing 455 new jobs to DuPage.
- Rexnord Corporation re-committed to Downers Grove after a national search for their aerospace headquarters. The company will redevelop its existing site and build an additional 248,000 square-foot facility expected to be completed by 2019.
- Amita Health signed a 10-year lease for 225,000 square-feet of office space in the Navistar Campus in Lisle. This new headquarters location will bring 1,100 jobs to DuPage County.
Together, these projects and many others have contributed to the prosperity of DuPage County in 2017. As we celebrate our success, and cross over the bridge into an even better 2018, we remember that everything we do is for the people, the place, the prosperity of DuPage.
John A. Carpenter
President & CEO
Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance