Pam's EDC Blog

News and information from Pam Cumpata, President of the McHenry County EDC

  1. Creativity in the Face of Adversity

    The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.

    - Bob Igor

    Creativity comes as natural as breathing to children.  Any object can become a toy and any situation can turn into a game.  As we get older creativity may often become associated with risk, a four-letter word to many business leaders.  Add in stresses such as a down economy or unexpected losses and most CEOs wanted to hunker down, play it safe and ride out the storm.  But that isn’t necessarily the best approach.  Sometimes the best way to face adversity is to go back to our roots of creative thinking.  Need some convincing?  I want to share some stories from our MCEDC Business Champions.  (Annually, MCEDC recognizes primary employers who have made a positive impact on McHenry County’s economy. These exceptional companies have strong vision, a solid business strategy, value employee education and subscribe to best practices making them stand out among others.) Here are three examples from our Business Champions that show how their businesses have thrived, despite their circumstances, by taking a new ‘creative’ approach to business. 

    When the 2009 downturn happened, many local businesses found themselves facing unfamiliar and difficult financial challenges.  Heartland Cabinet Supply was no exception.  Heavily connected to the residential housing market, Heartland saw their residential cabinet installations quickly dwindle to almost nothing.  Owner, Gary Reece, knew a creative approach to his business was in order.  Rather than doing things the same way he always had, Gary invested in new equipment and employee training and education.  This allowed him to pursue the commercial market for the first time.  His new approach paid off and over the last few years Heartland Cabinet Supply has realized 200% growth and increased profitability.

  2. The Role of Economic Development

    Empowerment isn’t a buzzword among leadership gurus.  It’s a proven technique where leaders give their teams the appropriate training, tools, resources, and guidance to succeed.

    I’m often asked “So, what is it you do?” Over the years I have gotten a variety of reactions from enthusiasm to a polite smile.  I have come to realize that many people out there, including some of the readers of this article aren’t exactly sure what economic development means . . .so for all the “smile-and-nodders” out there – this article is for you!

    When I think about the role of the McHenry County EDC I always come back to the word “empowerment”.  This is a word that gets tossed around a lot lately.  You might even say it has risen to the level of “buzzword” status.  I am not one to use a lot of jargon or buzzwords, but as business leader John Rampton points out so eloquently in his quote, empowerment should not be treated so cavalierly.  To empower someone really means to change their life.  How?  By giving them everything they truly need to prosper.  Guidance, training, resources . . .these are the tools of long-term success.  Let me give you some examples of what I mean.

    The McHenry County EDC is a liaison between the businesses of the county and regional and federal agencies.  For example, we partner with Metro Chicago Exports which focuses on the needs of county businesses that seek to export their products.  As a result of this partnership, we are able to offer any business in the county that wants to start exporting or expand their exporting an opportunity to apply for an annual grant that is given by Metro Chicago Exports.  In addition, we offer businesses guidance in applying for this grant as well as other resources and opportunities for exporting.  In turn, this empowers our local businesses by helping them compete in the larger global economy.  

  3. Millennials?

    Millennials.  We hear a lot about them these days and for good reason.  According to a recent report released from the Pew Research Foundation, Millennials (age 18-34) surpassed Baby Boomers (age 51-69) in 2016 as the largest living generation in the United States with a total population of 75.4 million people.  

    You may have heard that the Millennial generation was flocking to the cities wanting the convenience of city living.  But the pendulum is now beginning to swing back to the suburbs.  It seems that as they get married and start “settling down” Millennials want to trade the urban lifestyle they once so readily embraced for a more balanced quality of life in the suburbs.  Most adults of this generation have fond memories of family life in smaller towns and cities and want their own children to have that same experience.  They also want to keep the conveniences they have come to enjoy living in urban areas.  In short, Millennials are looking for the best of both worlds.  So what does this mean for McHenry County?  It means opportunity!

    McHenry County can take advantage of the desire of millennials to live in Chicago style ‘neighborhoods’...by boasting about Woodstock, Crystal Lake, McHenry, Algonquin, any of our 30 unique municipalities.  Each of these “neighborhoods’ have the coffee shops, restaurants, community activities desired by millennials as they create their family and find their work life balance. 

    Back in 2014, Forbes identified Chicago as the 4th best city for Millennials.  At that time, it estimated 14% of Chicago’s population was 25-34.  This means the potential to attract a new generation of families to our area is huge.  This generation is all about quality of life.  They want good schools for their children, safe neighborhoods and good jobs.  Many in this generation want a work-from-home option as they struggle to maintain work life balance or a community workplace and meeting space for small businesses, entrepreneurs, virtual employees and corporate teams.  They are looking for solid technology infrastructure and good public transportation and will happily trade a commute in the car for a commute by train or bicycle.  McHenry County is fortunate to have solid Metra service and governments who have worked to improve bike access.  Locally owned businesses can expect a great deal of support from this generation and should work on attracting talent in this age bracket.  Restaurants, farmer’s markets, bars, local artists and coffee shops in our muni’s will also benefit as Millennials seek out unique and fun places to unwind after a long week.

  4. "Knowledge is power" Francis Bacon

    Recently I was spending time with my grandchildren and thinking about how different life will be for them compared to how it was when I was growing up. Take for example, the process of writing a school report. When I was a kid, it involved a trip to the library and a card catalog that really was cards. Or, if you were lucky enough, your parents or a friend's parents had a set of encyclopedias that you could use in a pinch. Now we have the internet, and with just a few clicks of the mouse, my granddaughter can unlock an entire world of information. For her, the issue is not finding it, but sorting through it and deciding what is good. The same holds true for businesses today.

    Businesses thrive on access to solid information. Just like my granddaughter, the internet has opened an entire world of data that is relatively easy to access. Many businesses are struggling not with quantity, but quality. How do I know the data is any good? Does it really pertain to me? Is it accurate? These are the questions being asked. Business leaders know the quality of the data could be the difference between mediocre or amazing when it comes to crafting strategy and making decisions. That is why the McHenry County Economic Development Corp. (MCEDC) works hard to provide our local business community with data and research that is both meaningful and trustworthy.

    A perfect illustration of our work in this area are the business visitations we conduct each year. Over the course of a year, MCEDC staff, board members and partners conducted 100 individual one on one business visitations. Why? First, we want to let our businesses know that they are valued and appreciated for their impact on our economy. Secondly, through these meetings, we can see trends, issues and concerns that need to be communicated and addressed.

    For example, a recurrent theme we heard during the visitations in 2012, 2013 and 2014 was a concern for developing a skilled workforce to replace an aging one. To act on this issue, MCEDC has been partnering with McHenry County College, the McHenry County Workforce Investment Board and others to provide skills training and to establish a youth outreach program on the value of, and need for, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. From intern programs to facility tours, we are actively engaging our youth and encouraging the development of skills which we need in our workplace today and tomorrow.

    Using the insights gained in the business visitations, the MCEDC has also been able to provide customized assistance either by connecting companies to resources that they may need, advocating for solutions to the challenges they are facing, or finding solutions to obstacles they are experiencing. Odds are if one company is working to overcome a challenge, other companies in the county are facing similar situations. For this reason, we also seek to communicate the knowledge we gain and the data we collect in a meaningful way that benefits all the businesses in the county through educational forums for municipal staff and elected officials as well as economic development presentations before business groups.

  5. The pessimist complains about the wind;the optimist expects it to change;the realist adjusts the sails. William Arthur Ward

    The start of a new year is a great time to take a moment to think through our goals and aspirations for the months ahead. As I was doing that myself for the MCEDC, I came across this quote from the ‘King of Inspiration’, William Arthur Ward and I was struck by how true this really is and how our attitudes and perceptions can form our outlook and impact how we lead our businesses.

    Our attitude ultimately becomes the lens through which we view our world. If we focus on the positive, then the world becomes tinted by the proverbial rose colored glasses. If we choose to focus on the negative, then we will see the negative in everyone and everything around us. These images of the optimist and pessimist are nothing new and have been around a long time. They are the traditional black and white of attitudes. But if there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that life is a whole lot of gray.

    Enter the realist. One of our recent Business Champions was faced with the realty that he needed to broaden his outreach and find new markets for his products. This company adjusted their sails and forged ahead creating their own new reality. (http://www.mchenrycountyedc.com/connect/business-champions). Another McHenry County company had the need to expand...the realty of an expansion meant it would impact not only the company and its employees, but the community as well. These companies were realists and unlike the pessimist, these realists didn’t look at the inevitable ups and downs of life as a bad thing. They understood it for what it is; a fact of life and an opportunity. They didn’t become immobilized by fear, slash budgets and wait for the sky to fall. They also didn’t dismiss the signs of change in their industry or the economy with an optimistic “everything is fine” attitude either. Instead they did their research, analyzed their situations and decided on the best path for moving forward. And then they moved, full sail ahead. (http://www.mchenrycountyedc.com/connect/local-business-spotlight/fabrik-industries-expansion)

    We are fortunate here that we have many such business leaders from both large and small companies that call McHenry County home. They took action...expanding their footprint, innovating, provided up training for employees and developed new products...which is what sets the realist apart from others. Realists don’t wait for things to get better, they make them better. Realists are Doers. They understand that it is up to them to find the path for their own success and help their people get there. They help inspire the pessimist and lead the optimist to action. They set goals that are actionable, measurable and attainable. They look for ways to improve themselves and their business.

  6. 25th Anniversary Dinner - October 2016
    Jamie Welcome
    Robin Announcement
    Robin Philsan
    Steve and Sue
    Business Champs lobby photo
    Scott Brown
    Kevin Lobo at podium
    Kevin Lobo Pam Scott Brown
    Hubbard and CEO Peer Group
    Gary Reece accepting
    Gary Reece and team
    Rob Jessup accepting
    Jessup Team
    Jill accepting
    Jills Team
    Keith Wagner Accepting
    Keiths team alone
    Eesley accepting
    Eesley team
    Pam 2
    image001

    I am delighted with the success of our 25th Anniversary dinner.  I often say with pride that this event is the premier business event in the county.  Well, we can certainly back that up with the fact that the room was filled with over 450 of McHenry County’s business leaders. 

     

    The MCEDC Chairman of the Board, Jamie Maravich,  welcomed our attendees and thanked the presenting Sponsors the McHenry County Community Foundation and BMO Harris Bank as well as the Premier Sponsors, Blackhawk Bank, Centegra Health System and Innovative Component Sales and our many Investor Sponsors who all helped make this event a success.

     

    New this year to our event, was recognition by the McHenry County Community Foundation of the Philanthropist of the Year Award.  Robin Doeden, Executive Director presented the Award to Don & Chris Schellhaass.

  7. 25th Anniversary Dinner
    MCCF logo
    blackhawk bank
    centegra
    ics

    On August 4th, Centegra Health System cut the ribbon for their new state of the art hospital. I had the pleasure of attending this regionally impactful event. As I toured the emergency room, I noticed equipment bearing the Stryker name and smiled, proud that the MCEDC’s Keynote Speaker for the 25th Anniversary Dinner is Kevin Lobo, Chairman & CEO of Stryker Corporation.

    Stryker is one of the world’s leading medical technology companies and offer a diverse array of innovative products and services in Orthopaedics, Medical and Surgical, and Neurotechnology and Spine that help improve patient and hospital outcomes. Stryker is active in over 100 countries and in 2016 acquired 45 year old Sage Products which has over 800 employees in Cary.

    In addition to the business insight Mr. Lobo will share, the highlight of the evening will be the recognition of the 2016 Business Champions. And, this year, we are proud to be partnering with the McHenry County Community Foundation who in honor of their 15th anniversary will be presenting the Philanthropist of the Year Award.

    The evening begins at 5 pm with networking, 6 pm dinner, followed by our keynote address and award presentations. Seating for this premier business networking event is first come, first served. To register, click here.

     

  8. Current and Former MCEDC Board Members Reconnect at 25th Anniversary Celebration
    Attendees during presentation
    Charie Strahl Carstens Koehler
    Dobbe Messina Orphal
    Heldt Rentzsch Saladin
    Pierce Curran Blazier
    Thorpe Berry Zanck

    Your McHenry County Economic Development Corporation is celebrating our 25th anniversary. On Thursday May 19th, over 50 current and former board members reconnected with a celebration at Three Oaks Recreation Area. In preparation for celebrating 25 years of an organization, I read through 25 years of annual reports, but nothing can replace the stories and live history shared by former board members.

    Pictured, Jamie Maravich

    Pictured, Attendees gathered during presentation

    (Pictured L-R) Charie Zanck, David Strahl, Kit Carstens, Ken Koehler

    (Pictured L-R) Lisa Messina, Lyn Orphal, Sue Dobbe

  9. The Brookings Institution, a private non-profit organization whose mission is to conduct high quality, independent research and, based on research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policy makers and the public, recently released a report on the "Remaking of Economic Development."

    The five action principles are as follows:

    Set the right goals - reflect a more foundational and holistic approach to expand the economy and opportunityGrow from within - prioritize established and emerging firms and industries, invest in ecosystems of innovation, trade, talent, infrastructure and governance to support globally competitive firms and small business to start and growBoost trade - facilitate export growth and trade with other markets, deepen regional industry specializations and bring in new income and investmentInvest in people and skills - human capital and increasing capabilities results in meaningful work and income gainsConnect Place - catalyze economic place making and work, connect local communities to regional jobs, housing and opportunity.

    What creates excitement and pride for me personally, is that the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation along with our local partners - McHenry County Government, McHenry County Workforce Board and Network, McHenry County College, McHenry County Education districts, Primary Employers, Health Systems, Agriculture leaders, our municipal partners and collaborative entities, have been executing on these Five Action Principles for years and ‘remaking’ is not necessary.

    Business retention and expansion has been critical to understanding and providing assistance to companies growing right here.  MCEDC is a one stop shop providing resources, research and consulting to help businesses grow.  Our Business Retention and Expansion committee was created 25 years ago with volunteers who participated in our Business Visitation program.  We still do these and in fact, these visits are part of our strategic priorities.  By meeting with a company, we can determining needs, connect them to resources, provide troubleshooting and can be their voice in Springfield and Washington DC.

    Connecting with the workforce of today and tomorrow has also been a priority with us.  Our business ambassador program had business volunteers meet with high school classes in the early 2000’s, we partnered with MCC on the Welding Bootcamp in 2007 and in subsequent collaborations helped to establish a robust manufacturing curriculum. 

  10. As I have mentioned in the past, we have been collaborating with METROCHICAO EXPORTS, which includes the seven counties in Northeastern Illinois andthe City of Chicago/World Business Chicago to increase exports from small andmidsized forms to support regional job growth.

    For the second year running, the Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program will award grants up to $5,000 to small and medium-sized companies in McHenry County and Northeastern Illinois.  These grants will reimburse 50 percent of eligible expenses associated with exporting, such as executive training, trade show participation, and international certifications. If you have been thinking about exporting, this is a great opportunity.

    The 2016 Grant Program will accept applications through May 27, 2016. Later this year, MetroChicago Exports will host a pitch fest during which both 2015 and 2016 grant recipients will be eligible to submit a pitch for additional funding totaling $30,000. Additional details and eligibility requirements pertaining to the 2016 Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program are available at www.MetroChicagoExports.com or contact me at 815.893.0895.

    CAN’T MISS EVENT - Just a reminder that our 2016 Enhancing Excellent Speaker series kicks off on April 12th, 2016 at the Crystal Lake Country Club from 7:30 to 9:30 AM. Our speaker, Bill Strauss, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, will focus on the state of OUR Midwest Economy. His presentation is sure to be enlightening as well as entertaining and breakfast is always delicious. MCEDC Investor/members $20.00 – Others $35. Please call to make reservations by Friday, April 8, or register online at www.mchenrycountyedc.com/events.

  11. Spring is rapidly approaching with longer days of light, flowers blooming, the local garden center keeps me posted on what is being planted. Spring is that time for new beginnings and provides us the opportunity to start fresh. Soon the farmers will be tilling the soil in preparation for growing crops. Just like the farmers tilling the soil, we too can prepare ourselves for planting crops by taking advantage of educational events and networking events throughout the region.

    The MCEDC is celebrating our 25th Anniversary in 2016. Over the last 25 years, the MCEDC has worked to create a positive environment for business growth....to make McHenry County a great place to start a business, run a business, maintain a business or expand a business... all while providing the community with the benefits of an expanded tax base, primary and secondary job opportunities. It takes many touch points, a great deal of outreach, tremendous collaboration and leadership to mold a positive environment for business.

    Regarding touch points, coming up next week, our Makers Movement ‘Meetup’ will be on March 7th at 4:30 – 6pm here at our offices (call our office to register-no cost). We are gathering inventors, designers, tinkerers and artisans; mentors who have experience and expertise to share; and angel investors who want to support and grow a project as we build a Makers Movement right here in McHenry County. I am pleased to say our Maker’s Movement is gaining momentum with interest from numerous inventors and entrepreneurs as well as mentors and investors. We have invited an angel investor, Stan Lynall, CPA, to speak at our March 7th meeting. He is one of the founders and architects of the Central Illinois Angels (CIA). Central Illinois Angels is a nonprofit membership-based angel investment organization composed of business leaders and professionals in Central Illinois. Over the last seven years, the CIA has invested over $8 million dollars in early stage opportunities. Mr. Lynall will discuss how forming the investment group has led to growth in local business opportunities due to the CIA’s investments in a variety of technological advancements developed by entrepreneurs in the area. We hope this initiative will spark future businesses and take those ideas drawn on a napkin and make them reality. We are looking for innovators, entrepreneurs, investors as well as mentors in all areas who are interested in helping grow the opportunities available here in McHenry County.

    As part of our “Enhancing Excellence” Speaker series, we are excited to bring in a heavy hitter with a great sense of humor. William A. Strauss, a senior economist and economic advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, will share his expertise on the Midwest economy as well as the manufacturing and automotive sectors. Call our office or register online for this April 12th, 2016 event which will be held at the Crystal Lake Country Club from 7:30 – 9:30 am. Cost is $20 for MCEDC Investors/members and $35 for others.

    Our inaugural CEO Peer Group has been meeting for several months and with its successful launch, we are now ready to expand to a second group. The CEO Peer Group is a confidential place to improve leadership skills, have a unique opportunity to connect, learn and succeed in an environment designed to realize opportunities, overcome challenges and promote economic success. Each group consists of only 10 executives in noncompetitive markets, based upon leadership styles, fit and synergy. There are 12 half day workshops throughout 2016-2017 which accelerate the leadership journey among like-minded executive peers. Each group is led by an accomplished business trainer, Chris Kremer of The Success Catalyst and is designed for executives committed to personal and professional improvement. Please call me to learn more about our CEO Peer Group opportunity and our upcoming informational meeting on May 12th from 5 to 7pm.

  12. Do you have a great idea sketched out on a napkin or sitting in a drawer for some day?

    That someday may be Monday, March 7th, 2016.

    The McHenry County Makers Movement is in the early stages of developing a group of entrepreneurs,innovators, mentors and angel investors. 

    Join us as we work to create our own ‘Makers’ group on Monday, March 9th.

    Our offices are at the Mental Health Building, 620 Dakota Street, Crystal Lake,  

  13. Over the last 12 months, McHenry County EDC has been involved in the development of the county’s first Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy(CEDS).  The update and expansion of the CEDS for the Northern Illinois Region (Boone, McHenry and Winnebago) represents a natural evolution of a continued focus on regional collaboration in support of economic vitality.  The shared industry strengths, transportation assets and workforce positions the region to be more competitive in the global economy and better leverage resources to drive a strong economy and improve quality of life for residents.

    The CEDS Planning process included a mix of public and private sector representatives  that spearheaded the process.   The Strategy Committee included leaders from manufacturing, healthcare and other companies, public officials, community leaders, economic development professionals, workforce development stakeholders and higher education representatives from across the three counties. 

    Regional stakeholders prioritized alignment this CEDS with other regional plans that preceded or were concurrent with this process.

    The vision is to be a world-class prosperous region with a resilient economic base and superior quality of life that outperforms peer regions in job growth, capital investment and innovation.  Great vision but  how? 

    Goal 1:  A collaborative economic development strategy emphasizing communication, cooperation, alignment of initiatives, shared assets and promotion of the region for business investment.

    Goal 2: Efficient business development, expansion, diversification, job growth and innovation throughout the region. 

    Goal 3: Availability of a skilled and flexible workforce that successfully meets the needs of existing and emerging industries and technologies.

    Goal 4: A full range of infrastructure, with emphasis on transportation, utilities and communication in order to successfully meet the needs of the region’s businesses.

  14. February 2016 News
    Jim Schultz
    Gems 1
    Gems 2

    February is certainly off to a fast start...

    This morning I was in Chicago with Governor Rauner as he was speaking to economic development professionals and others. Jim Schultz, Director of Illinois Department of Commerce was also on hand.

      

    Yesterday, members of our Board of Directors and I attended the McHenry County Board Address by Chairman Gottemoller and were pleased that the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy we have been working on during 2015 was approved by the Board.

    And Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending District 155’s GEMS (Girls in Engineering Math and Science) event for young women in 6 to 8th grades. Our future workforce is critical to our future success as a county to remain innovative, to retain and attract business. After talking to many young women and their parents the future looks extremely bright.

  15. We are pleased to host an information ‘Meet Up’ session for Entrepreneurs, Business Mentors and Potential Investors who are interested in being a part of a Maker’s Movement right herein McHenry County.

    You may have heard about the 'makers movement' in the news and of groups all around the world.  We believe that Innovators, Entrepreneurs, Investors should not have to travel to Chicagoor other areas to share ideas, find investors or business mentors.  We have plenty of talent and resources right here in McHenry County.

    So, if you are interrested in learning more about  'Makers' and becoming part of the movement, we invite you to join us on:

    Date: Wednesday, December 16, 2015

    Time: 4:30 to 7:00pm

  16. It is that time of year again at the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation!!! The time when we celebrate and recognize the incredible companies that call McHenry County HOME! Over the last 7 years, the MCEDC has recognized over 25 primary employers at our Annual Dinner through our Business Champion Awards program. The 2015 Business Champion finalists are:

    Small Category - 24 or under employees: CIDEAS, JA Nationwide, Used CNC, Inc

    Medium Category – 25 to 100 employees: Black Diamond Plumbing and Mechanical, Inc., Charles Herdrich & Sons, Countryside Flower Shop, Nursery & Garden Center, CRV Electronics, Jessup Manufacturing Company, and Matrix IV.

    Large Category – over 100 employees: Dean Foods, General Kinematics, Home State Bank, H.S. Crocker, and TEQ.

    Larger Category – over 300 employees: Intren and Sage Products

  17. Enhancing Excellence Series off to a great start!

    “She knocked it out of the park!” That was one of many positive remarks we received from those who participated in MCEDC’s Enhancing Excellence business series inaugural event on September 15th.   Our speaker, Patricia Miller of Matrix IV, shared her thoughts on vision, direction, transformational change and personal commitment.  The next Enhancing Excellence Business Series event will be later this year.  Details to follow.

    Don’t Delay – register today!  We are currently accepting reservations for the premier business networking event in McHenry County - MCEDC’s Annual Dinner, October 27th, 2015 at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake.  In addition to a keynote address by Brik Eyre, Baxter US Corporate Vice President and President Hospital Products, the eighth Business Champion Awards will be presented.  Click here to register.

    What’s your EQ?  As part of MCEDC’s CEO Roundtable workshops, we are offering a 90 minute Emerging Leaders session to provider actionable insights into assessing and unlocking EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE to optimize interactions with employees, vendors, customers, strategic partners and even family members. 

    Bring your management team, your ‘emerging leaders’ to help build a team with high levels of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.  The workshop presenter, Terry Radwan, has 23 years of experience in Human Capital management and consulting, and will cover:

    Understanding EQ and how it applies to business interactionsHow to identify the EQ aspects of any given situationThe mixed model of EQ, encompassing Self Awareness, Self-Management, Motivation, Empathy and Social SkillsEQ strategies to produce more favorable outcomes

    DATE: November 18th from 7:30 to 10 amLOCATION: MCEDC new offices - 620 Dakota Street, Crystal Lake(2 story Mental Health Building located in the back of the building) Continental Breakfast ProvidedNo Cost, however registration is required.CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

  18. MCEDC is accepting nominations for the 2015 Business Champion Awards through September 4th, 2015.   For the past eight years, MCEDC has recognized outstanding companies who have made a positive impact on McHenry County’s economy and who are exceptional primary employers. (A primary employer is defined as the one creating a product or service that is principally sold outside of a region, thereby generating new money and profits into the region. Examples include manufacturing, back-office operations or service centers, professional services, corporate headquarters, distribution facilities and research and development to name a few.)

    Business Champions are typically companies with strong vision, a solid long range business strategy, as well as best practices that make them stand out among others.   They may be a corporate park neighbor, a supplier or customer that you find exceptional or you may be an employee who feels your employer provides a great work environment or goes the extra mile to help the employees.   We also welcome self-nominations from CEO's or executive team member who are proud of recent expansions, acquisition, special project or growth. An online nomination form is available on our website (Click here).

    Our inaugural "Enhancing Excellence" Business Breakfast series will kick off on Tuesday, September 15th at the Crystal Lake Country Club from 7:30 to 9:30 am. Our speaker will be Patricia Miller of Matrix IV. Patricia graduated from the University of Iowa with both BBA and BA, Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management and a minor in Spanish. She received her graduate degree from the University College of London in Legal and Political Theory. Most recently, Patricia was a marketing executive with Halozyme Therapeutics (a biopharmaceutical company commercializing new products that target the extracellular matrix for diabetes, oncology, dermatology and autoimmune) responsible for marketing strategy, business development and P+L across the company's proprietary and partnered programs. Prior to Halozyme, she worked with Eli Lilly on strategic major market product launches both globally and in the United States in Neuroscience, Men's Health and Diabetes. She also served as a catalyst for organizational change at Lilly where she directed a cross functional team that developed grass roots efforts to pivotally and beneficially impact the culture and re-engage the company. Currently, Patricia is the CEO and President of Matrix IV, Inc., a design and manufacturing house.   Online Registration and payment options are available on our website. Click here.

    Early Bird Sponsorship and registration opportunities for our October 27, 2015 Annual Dinner are also available on our website. Our keynote speaker is Brik Eyre, Baxter US Corporate Vice President and President Hospital Products.

    Congratulations to the Cities of Harvard and Woodstock and McHenry County on being awarded the first Enterprise Zone in McHenry County. This successful effort was the result of an exceptional collaboration between the cities, the county and other regional partners, including McHenry County College, NIU, Harvard EDC and MCEDC and was strongly supported by State Senator Pamela Althoff and County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller.

  19. I have been very excited about the progress of our Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy or CEDS which includes McHenry, Boone and Winnebago counties. Last week, an Open House for public comment was held in McHenry County, and this week, Boone and Winnebago counties will be holding their open houses.

    These public comment sessions are designed to receive input on the strategies developed over the last few months as we pursue growth, creating jobs and strengthening our local economy.

    If you were unable to attend the open house, you can still provide your thoughts through this CEDS Public Comment Link. (Click here)

    A little background...A Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) lays out a regional plan for economic development. Its ultimate goal is to help our area have a stronger, more diverse regional economy. While the CEDS’ most critical function is to provide a regional economic development framework, it also serves as a required vehicle through which some federal agencies (especially the EDA) evaluate requests for grant assistance. With a CEDS plan approved by the federal government, a region is eligible to apply for federal economic development grants.

    Winnebago and Boone counties created the region’s first CEDS in 2010 through a process that aligned public sector, private sector, nonprofit and community partners, as well as public input, into a plan for regional development. The CEDS has successfully aided the region in receiving the following grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration:•A $6.1 million State of Ingenuity grant collaboration between Boone/Winnebago counties and Wisconsin counties to promote entrepreneurship and innovation programs.•A $2.7 million public works grant to upgrade roads around Chicago Rockford International Airport.•A $1.8 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant (through EDA and other federal agencies) to promote the region’s aerospace cluster.

  20.  

    Today, manufacturers are creating more jobs, making more products and making them better than ever before.

    In McHenry County, our manufacturers contribute over $5 Billion to the county’s economy and employees over 14,000 people.

    Manufacturing continues to have the biggest multiplier effect of any industry. A single manufacturing job can lead to the creation of three to five more jobs in other industries.

    In order to remain vibrant, the future workforce is key, so we would appreciate your taking a few minutes to complete this survey so we can better understand what our manufacturers are doing on their own and how we can work together to fill the workforce pipeline.

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