As mentioned in my March column, boundaries, while important to government and educational entities, do not play an important part in business today.
Businesses work regionally, nationally and internationally to build sales, drive research and expand their reach and impact. To build effective economic development, it is important to do the same – cross boundaries and build partnerships and collaborations.
In 1986, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Corridors of Opportunity and Development Act. Envisioned as the marketing arm of Build Illinois, the focus was to stimulate growth throughout various industries such as automotive, manufacturing, high technology, agriculture and tourism. One initiative in particular, was the Golden Corridor – a great initiative that lasted six years until a state financial crisis cut funding.
Fast forward to 2009, and a new partnership of companies and organizations joined together and revitalized as the Golden Corridor Advanced Manufacturing Group.
Another example of collaboration and partnerships is right here in McHenry County.
In 2013, the McHenry County Economic Development Corp., McHenry County Worknet and McHenry County College aligned with Boone, Winnebago and five other counties, including universities and workforce partners, to submit a grant application to the Federal Economic Development Administration for the Make it in America grant.
While we were not successful this time, it did kick-start conversations on regional collaboration. This effort, built into another in January of this year as an expanded group, met weekly to submit on the Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnership designation. This application was endorsed by the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity ahead of four other submissions from Illinois. We parlayed our efforts by again partnering on a similar submission with Cook and the collar counties.
As part of our countywide municipal economic development focus, the McHenry County Economic Development Corp. and our economic development partners from municipalities met with directors from the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to emphasize our alignment to increase economic wealth in our county.
We discussed the strengths of our assets – workforce, land, industry clusters, employers, supply chains, etc. In addition, we met with staff from the Economic Development Administration to improve our knowledge of its federal programs and to share the strengths of McHenry County and raise our visibility.
Know that McHenry County Economic Development Corp. is committed to continuing our leadership in being the regional voice for economic development and working collaboratively with our local, state and federal partners.
• Pam Cumpata is president of the McHenry County Economic Development Corp. Reach her at 815-893-0895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.