Diversity of industries is hugely important for a stable economy and a factor that companies from all industries should look at when deciding on a location. In a diverse economy, industries work together and build upon one another. Illinois is home to one of the country’s most diverse economies. Companies from plastics and chemical manufacturing to data centers thrive in Illinois for a few key reasons: the state’s central location, robust infrastructure, skilled workforce and support. Here, we provide examples of how a few key industries are advancing in Illinois.
Plastics and Chemical Manufacturing
Illinois is among the top five states in the nation and has the third largest GRP for plastics and chemical manufacturing. The industry relies on Illinois’ robust workforce:
- #1 in the Midwest for talent generated and number of hires for chemical manufacturing jobs
- 4th in the nation for number of jobs (115,000+)
The state has an unmatched manufacturing workforce and talent pipeline coming out of 254 higher education institutions. It is home to 534 community college manufacturing programs, and 23,459 students graduate annually with a manufacturing degree.
Illinois has ample available sites that could be utilized for plastics and chemical manufacturing. These sites benefit from the state’s connectivity to utilities, highway, rail and water. Illinois’ strong manufacturing ecosystem includes world-renowned federal labs, such as Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi Lab, and the National Center for Agricultural Utilization, and corporate and academic leadership throughout the state committed to building the manufacturing industry of the future. An example of growth in this industry is LG Chem and ADM’s recent joint venture in Decatur to produce lactic and polylactic acid to meet growing demand for a wide variety of plant-based products, including bioplastics.
Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL)
Centrally located and known as one of the nation’s most connected transportation hubs, Illinois offers unparalleled access to global markets. The state’s location and infrastructure support efficient transportation of people and goods via air, rail, road and port. From major retailers to third party logistics companies, Illinois is at the pulse of this industry.
TDL companies employ more than 319,000 people in Illinois and contribute nearly $33 billion in economic output. Logistics leaders, including United Parcel Services, Capstone Logistics and United Airlines, are joined by technology startups such as Loadsmart and project44, further cementing the state as a leader in this industry.
Illinois connects these companies via:
- Road: 83 percent of the continental U.S. is accessible within a two-day drive.
- Air: Nearly the entire North American market is within a four-hour flight, and the state is home to one of the world’s most connected airports.
- Port: Nineteen port districts offer direct links to the Atlantic Ocean, Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico.
- Rail: The only state where all Class One railroads meet in two places.
Through the landmark $45 billion Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan, Illinois has made unprecedented progress in modernizing its roads, bridges, airports, and ports. Over the next six years, the state will invest $13.96 billion to continue its full-scale infrastructure revitalization.
Illinois’ infrastructure, location and support are why the state ranks 4th in the U.S. in total number of transportation and warehousing establishments and 1st in the Midwest.
As the world’s demand for data continues to grow, Illinois is well-positioned to support the data center boom.
Four of the largest data campuses in the country are currently being built in Illinois. Chicago is tied with Dallas as the third-largest data center hotspot in the U.S. at about 4.8 million square feet. With another 2.2 million square feet in construction and more projected growth, Chicago is a top-10 data center market in the world, according to a 2023 report.
Illinois’ data center incentive program is one reason why the state has transitioned into a major player. The program offers tax exemptions from local and state sales for companies that invest at least $250 million in a data center, create 20 new jobs over a five-year period, and are carbon neutral.
Illinois has the resources to power these demanding centers. ComEd, one of the nation’s largest power utilities, provides northern Illinois businesses access to a modern grid that meets all the needs of a robust data center, including carbon neutrality.
Just recently, Meta opened its $1 billion data center in DeKalb. The 2.3-million-square-foot facility is the most energy efficient of its kind in the world.
Renewable Energy/Electric Vehicles (EV)
As the first state committed to 100% clean energy by 2050, Illinois is leading the charge to a clean energy future. With a robust renewable energy ecosystem, Illinois excels in clean energy production – from wind to solar to nuclear.
Building on its long, successful history in auto manufacturing, innovation and logistics, Illinois is at the forefront of the EV revolution. It boasts the third-largest talent pipeline of EV battery and related programs in the country, and passed legislation to prioritize industry growth:
- The historic Illinois Climate & Equitable Jobs Act prioritizes EV adoption
- The Reimaging Energy and Vehicles Act provides significant incentives for EV, solar, renewables and energy storage component businesses to grow.
Illinois’ pro-EV legislation is paying off. It is home to the fifth-most battery manufacturing businesses in the country, and Chicago ranks as the second largest EV market in the country by JLL. Industry leaders, including Rivian and Lion Electric, are now manufacturing electric buses, trucks and SUVs in the state, paving the way for suppliers to also grow. For example, battery manufacturer Gotion recently announced it is investing more than $2B to build its gigafactory in Illinois.
Medical Device Manufacturing
Illinois’ thriving life sciences industry is comprised of more than 14,000 companies, from startups to Fortune 500s. These companies employ over 550,000, which are part of an ecosystem of like-minded companies, venture capital, R&D, incubators, accelerators and support organizations.
Illinois’ world-class universities produce the fifth-most life sciences graduates in the country, enabling Illinois companies to attract and retain premier life sciences talent.
Talent was one key reason Illinois was recently chosen for the cutting-edge Chan Zuckerberg (CZ) Biohub research lab. The Biohub’s $250M investment in Chicago places the state at the center of biotechnology innovation.
A key subsector of Illinois’ thriving life sciences industry is medical device manufacturing. Illinois is home to four of the ten largest medical device companies — Medline, Baxter, Abbott, and GE Health. These companies are driving the Medtech sector growth in the Chicago region, producing a combined revenue of almost $70 billion.
Companies in a wide range of industries find the resources and support they need for growth in Illinois. For additional information on growing your business in Illinois, visit www.intersectillinois.org.