MCEDC dinner highlights leadership, future

For the more than 400 people who attended the McHenry County Economic Development Corp.’s Annual Dinner on Nov. 5, thank you.

What an incredible evening. Our keynote speaker, Harry Kraemer Jr., engaged and inspired us with his four principles of value based leadership: self-reflection, balance and perspective, true self-confidence and genuine humility.

Kraemer shared stores of himself, telling about his career that began in a cubicle at Baxter International to his rise to CEO of that same company. He is now an executive partner at Madison Dearborn, on the board of directors at Sage Products, and a professor at Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

Kraemer encouraged us to take time to look in the mirror (self-reflection) instead of pointing the finger. He highlighted the importance of knowing who you are and that you must align your behavior with your values, and never forget where you came from. In his career, that was the cubicle. He also suggested that every now and then you stay late to help the cleaning staff empty the garbage can. Not because you feel obligated, but because it gives perspective.

As Kraemer finished his comments, everyone received a special gift provided by Sage Products and Leadership Greater McHenry County: Kraemer’s book, “From Values to Action.” He agreed to autograph the book for anyone who was interested. Thank you, Sage and Leadership Greater McHenry County, for the generous gift of Harry Kraemer and his book.

Also during this wonderful evening, the MCEDC recognized for the sixth year four outstanding Business Champions: Phoenix Woodworking (Woodstock), Advanced Flexible Composites (Lake in the Hills), Watlow (Richmond) and Covidien (Crystal Lake). Congratulations to our winners, as well as all the fantastic companies who were nominated.

The MCEDC Board of Directors took the stage to share the corporation’s strategic plan for 2014-2017, which reaffirms the commitment to being a driving force in propelling McHenry County toward economic prosperity. By accomplishing these strategies, the MCEDC will improve the lives of county residents and bring value to our investors. 

Strategic Priority 1: Business retention and outreach.

Strategic Priority 2: Go-to organization, increasing collaboration and cooperation with likeminded organizations to build wealth.

Strategic Priority 3: Revenue generation and diversification.

Strategic Priority 4: Attraction of new investment and jobs from outside the region.

Over the next few months, the MCEDC Board of Directors will set executable goals to continue moving each strategic priority forward. Inclusion of our investors on committees and task forces is critical, and we welcome additional investors to join the MCEDC as we continue to execute on the outlined priorities.

As 2013 heads to a close, here are a few examples and statistics on the corporation’s execution on the strategic priorities in 2013:

Strategic Priority 1: Business retention. The MCEDC’s business support affected 21,700 employees, equaling 30 percent of the total primary employment in McHenry County, and provided 414 business advocacy and customized support – a 56 percent increase from 2012.

We facilitated more than 600 one-on-one manufacturing business development opportunities, and improved the landscape for workforce and career development with our education partners, McHenry County College and our county high schools.

Strategic Priority 2: Go-to organization. We celebrated MCEDC’s founding project,  the Algonquin Bypass groundbreaking. The annual Legislative Breakfast provided an opportunity to meet with and hear from state and federal elected officials. We advocated to keep the Illinois Century Network high-speed fiber project moving forward.

Strategic Priority 3: Revenue generation and diversification. In addition to the financial support received from McHenry County and our fantastic investors, we are privileged to receive over $105,000 of in-kind executive leadership time.

Strategic Priority 4: Attraction. We raised the visibility of McHenry County through advertisement in the first-ever Illinois Innovation magazine and website. The magazine was distributed to more than 25,000 CEOs worldwide. We participated in the U.S. Department of Commerce Select USA Summit for Foreign Investment into the U.S. and in the Area Development Conference to meet with commercial brokers who assist large companies with relocation and expansion decisions.

As we look ahead to 2014, MCEDC looks forward to continuing to advance business in McHenry County and to execute on our mission of retention, expansion and attraction of primary employers. We thank you, all of our valued investors and partners, for making our private public partnership successful.

• Pam Cumpata is president of the McHenry County Economic Development Corp.

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