His goal as governor is to create a more prosperous state, where everyone has an opportunity to succeed. The governor is focused on delivering value for taxpayers, creating a pro-jobs economic climate, ensuring world-class schools and educational options for every Illinoisan.
One of the many issues the new Governor will tackle in the first few months of office will be the state’s economic performance and his plan to “jump-start the economy.” Jobs and economic growth will likely be stimulated by reducing the state’s current income tax rate, freezing property taxes and reducing regulatory burdens to become more competitive with its neighbors.
“Competitiveness must be our watchword and opportunity and compassion our goals, so we can once again become the place people want to come to build a better life for themselves and their families,” said Governor Rauner in his State of the State address.
To realize its full potential, the state must nurture the competitive advantages of its economy and offer more support to existing businesses. The existing economic development plan lays out a clear vision to enable Illinois to continue to be a force in the global economy by driving broad-based growth for all businesses, tackling regional economic challenges, and supporting high-potential industry clusters.
There is much work to be done, but the good news is that Illinois’ resilient economy is well-positioned to build on its strengths as a major hub for commerce. With 33 Fortune 500 companies, a highly-educated workforce, a robust R&D community, a unique central location and a highly-developed infrastructure, Illinois is already a national and global leader.
Likewise, Illinois is a U.S. Leader in wind power production and related manufacturing as well as biomass production and research diversifying the state’s new energy economy and creating supply-chain opportunities across multiple sectors.
The state is a hotbed for technology innovation. It is home to a healthy number of the nation’s fastest-growing private tech companies. It has also become a global industry leader in the highly-specialized field of water technology with more than 100 companies now located in the state, due in large part to the Illinois Clean Water Initiative, backed with a $1 billion Federal Environmental Protection Agency grant. Through this Initiative, Illinois is overhauling old drinking water and wastewater infrastructure while creating jobs, improving the environment, and boosting the economy.
A Vision for Economic Development
For decades, Illinois has been the economic engine of the midwest region and a national hub for global commerce. The state’s improving performance serves as a foundation to pursue further growth. Today, Illinois is positioned to nurture promising industries, be more responsive to businesses and help individuals prepare themselves for positions in the new economy.
The success of this strategic plan depends on commitment and cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders — state government, elected officials, regional representatives, educational institutions and the private sector — to mobilize resources and sustain a vibrant business ecosystem. Accordingly, the plan provides guidance for agencies and organizations to make an impact on the regional and community levels.
Clusters Can Drive Economic Development
With its $670 billion economy, Illinois is an international center of global commerce. The state has leveraged its world-class transportation and logistics infrastructure, major research and higher education assets, and legacy of innovation to create a dynamic and growing economy with major segments that include advanced manufacturing, life sciences, clean energy, banking and finance, and information technology. Illinois is known as an agriculture and food processing powerhouse, an advanced manufacturing leader, and a leader in foreign direct investment and exports. As a matter of fact, Illinois is the largest exporting state in the Midwest.
However, an essential element of the strategic plan for economic growth is its focus on the promotion of a broad-based bottom-up approach that enables individual regions to identify the industries that they are well-positioned to attract and support. As a way to capitalize on existing assets and opportunities, Illinois’ has identified an initial set of seven high-potential clusters that have the ability to make an outsized impact on the state’s economy.
These clusters already employ a large number of Illinois residents and jobs in these clusters typically pay salaries above the regional average. As the economy grows and new clusters are identified, the state’s economic development strategies will be adjusted accordingly.
Seven Initiatives to Spur Economic Development
Using Illinois strengths as a starting point, the economic development plan builds on the state’s momentum by identifying basic strategies and tools that will accelerate economic development on a state-wide level. To this end, the plan highlights seven initiatives that will provide a better ecosystem for growth. These measures will drive business development, job creation and higher incomes – all of which will strengthen communities across Illinois.
- 1. Strengthen the state’s ongoing business attraction, retention, and support initiatives – An expanded, strategic approach to business development – one that targets anchor institutions in high-growth clusters and communicates the full breadth of the state’s advantages – will help Illinois strengthen its suite of top-tier business attraction and retention programs.
- 2. Promote economic development on a regional level – By tailoring strategies to meet the priorities and assets of individual regions while promoting better coordination among stakeholders, the state will drive accelerated growth in economic activity across regions.
- 3. Develop an increasingly-competitive workforce – The state will partner with business, expand successful existing programs, and augment those with new initiatives to maintain a ready supply of qualified workers.
- 4. Increase fairness and opportunity – This plan emphasizes inclusive growth; wherever possible, the state’s strategies will include distressed communities. Select targeted strategies can provide relief and opportunity to those who need it most.
- 5. Make Illinois a top destination for entrepreneurs – With input from partners throughout the state, Illinois will pursue a unified strategic approach to entrepreneurship to ensure that small and midsize businesses have the capital and talent to grow.
- 6. Implement a comprehensive, statewide strategy to drive innovation – Since innovation is a key driver of job creation and economic development, Illinois will implement targeted programming to create connections among innovation partners, pave the path for business modernization, and facilitate the establishment of sector-specific initiatives.
- 7. Modernize and revitalize the infrastructure – Illinois’ geographic location and history as a commercial hub have endowed it with a robust network of intermodal transport infrastructure. By pursuing targeted strategies, Illinois can optimize its infrastructure for economic development and innovation.
State government has a critical role to play in economic development, serving as a catalyst for ambitious projects, coordinating the actions of multiple stakeholders, and connecting companies and individuals to support business growth.