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Importance of leadership can’t be understated

Published: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

We are excited to announce Harry Jansen Kraemer Jr. will be the keynote speaker at the McHenry County Economic Development Corp.’s annual dinner Nov. 5.

Kraemer is a professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and an executive partner with Madison Dearborn Partners, one of the leading private equity firms in the U.S. He also is a former chairman and CEO of Baxter International Inc.

We are pleased to have been introduced to Kraemer through Sage Products and Leadership Greater McHenry County.

This year’s event is truly a collaboration of organizations working to create a strong economic and leadership foundation for the future of McHenry County and this region. 

What hasn’t been mentioned is Kraemer also is an author of a book on leadership, “From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership.”

Wanting to be prepared to talk to Kraemer, I immediately bought the book. Ready to dive in, I was extremely interested in how he views leadership and how he leads. 

Over my career, I reported to a number of people who thought they were leaders because of seniority and intimidation, but, really, they were not. Then there were others who just empowered people without much effort. Those people were the true leaders.

So as I read through Kraemer’s book, I found that we approached one particular situation in the same manner. The results were he received a promotion and I received a severance package. When we first spoke, both of us had a great laugh.

Reservations for the MCEDC’s annual dinner can be made on our website, www.mcedc.com, or by calling us at 815-893-0895.

We are confident that Kraemer’s comments will be informative and thought-provoking. 

In addition to Kraemer’s keynote address on leadership, we will recognize three local companies as business champions.

Over the past five years, the MCEDC has honored 15 incredible companies that exhibit strong leadership, innovation and overall economic contribution to McHenry County through employment and revenue.

The Business Champion Task Force is requesting nominations for the sixth annual business champion awards. Please visit our website to complete the online form or call us to submit a name by Sept. 3.

MCEDC’s past business champions include: Chroma Corp., All-Rite Spring, Impact Plastics in 2012; Other World Computing, Dordan Manufacturing, Joule Technologies in 2011; Scot Forge, Jan Air, Astro Craft in 2010; Medela, Millennium Electronics, Stan’s Office Technologies in 2009; Pioneer Center for Human Services, Prairie Ridge Media/McHenry County Living and New Concepts Development Corp./Other World Computing in 2008. 

The MCDED’s mission is to promote the economic health of the county through retention, expansion and attraction of commerce and industry that is conducive to an optimal quality of life for its citizens. In other words, help our businesses grow, assist those looking to expand, attract others that will provide jobs and increase supply chain opportunities, and provide focus and support in areas of workforce and infrastructure.

Some of the initiatives used to accomplish our mission include:

• Providing customized support such as: financial assistance, workforce development, referrals, management growth opportunities, coordinated efforts with elected officials and utility interaction, just to name a few. Through July, we assisted more than 567 companies.

• Long-term foundation building projects: These often take several years to develop and complete. The Illinois Century Network project for high speed fiber connectivity, which we have spring-boarded into a larger county fiber initiative, is one example. The goal is to keep McHenry County competitive.

• Initiatives with our high schools for future workforce development: In 2012, we took 844 high school students to the International Manufacturing Technology Show, and we are already planning for the next show in 2014. We feel connecting business and education to develop a dialog is important. We work with companies to host tours and career opportunities and to identify curriculum needs.

• Infrastructure and the future of our transportation network: Through our volunteer committee members and staff, we work closely with federal, state and local entities to improve access that is vital for business growth. 

• Providing strategic information: Through our economic modeling software we provide detailed information about communities, municipalities and the county that outline a company’s employment and financial impact. Through July, we provided 340 demographic, site search and business data reports.

All of our programs and initiatives are designed to help grow our economy. To learn more, give us a call. 

• Pam Cumpata is president of the McHenry County Economic Development Corp. For information, call 815-893-0895, or visit www.mcedc.com. 

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