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Economic growth organization brings together 7 counties, Chicago, business community

Pictured (from left) are Lake County Chairman Aaron Lawlor; Will County Executive Larry Walsh; CRGC Executive President Tom Hulseman; Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle; Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder; Deputy Mayor of Chicago Robert Rivkin; and Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen.
Pictured (from left) are Lake County Chairman Aaron Lawlor; Will County Executive Larry Walsh; CRGC Executive President Tom Hulseman; Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle; Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder; Deputy Mayor of Chicago Robert Rivkin; and Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen.

On Jan. 18, business and government leaders launched Chicago Regional Growth Corporation, a regional economic development organization intended to drive collaboration among public and private partners in order to generate inclusive growth and prosperity across northeastern Illinois.

Organizers said CRGC will provide a platform for collaboration and prioritize, align and manage the region’s economic development initiatives, unifying programming and the region’s identity. CRGC includes leadership from Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties and the city of Chicago, as well as industry leaders from manufacturing, food processing, finance and higher education. The new organization will strengthen the regional economy and better connect resources to generate economic opportunity and prosperity, officials said.

“The economic growth of cities, from neighborhoods to suburbs, is highly interdependent,” said Tom Hulseman, CRGC's founding executive director. “We have a huge opportunity to capitalize on our resources and bring all of the players to the table to set an economic development agenda that works for the entire region, with a strong emphasis on inclusive economic growth throughout all of CRGC’s programs and initiatives.”

CRGC will put the Chicago region at the forefront of the economic development field, officials said, connecting the region’s assets and building from within. The organization will add capacity to the economic development efforts of individual organizations with new programs and resources.

Already, the working group that has become CRGC collaborated on initiatives including coordinating a regional response to Amazon’s search for an HQ2, bringing together leaders from all seven counties to nominate sites and combine resources.

Once work begins this month, CRGC will take on a variety of initiatives including:

• Leading programs to increase exports, including the successful Metro Chicago Exports grant program, pitch competitions and ExporTech curriculum.

• Developing new programs to attract foreign investment to the region and build stronger relationships with existing foreign-owned enterprises in northeastern Illinois.

• Convening regionally important industry clusters to discuss common issues and identify new opportunities for growth, such as Chicago Metro Metals Consortium, which strengthens the fabricated metal and machinery sectors in the Chicago region.

• Coordinating regional networks to improve systems, such as the group’s effort to enhance the region’s freight transportation system by standardizing permitting and other initiatives.

• Growing small companies in the region’s economically distressed communities to create high-quality, wealth-building jobs for residents.

Officials said CRGC will add value and complement the work of other economic development organizations, resulting in a cycle of investment, training, employment and wage growth and a strong, more prosperous economy.

The founding board includes:

• Andrez Beltran, economic development coordinator, Kendall County.

• John Carpenter, president and CEO, Choose DuPage.

• Nim Chinniah, executive vice president, Northwestern University.

• Nelda Connors, chairman and CEO, Pine Grove Holdings.

• Kevin Considine, president and CEO, Lake County Partners.

• Steve Davis, president and chairman, The Will Group.

• John Greuling, president and CEO, Will County Center for Economic Development.

• Mike Jasso, chief, Cook County Bureau of Economic Development.

• Michael Moskow, vice chairman and Distinguished Fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

• Aneesa Muthana, president, Pioneer Services.

• Alberto Paracchini, president and CEO, Byline Bank.

• Ann Rondeau, president, College of DuPage.

• Jim Roolf, president, Joliet Banking Center First Midwest Bank.

• Michael Skala, County Board member, McHenry County.

• Joe Slawek, chairman, FONA International.

• Mark VanKerkhoff, director, Kane County Development and Community Services.

• Andrea Zopp, president, World Business Chicago.

The executive leadership from the seven counties and city of Chicago will advise ex officio the board and executive director:

• Dan Cronin, chairman, DuPage County.

• Rahm Emanuel, mayor, Chicago.

• Jack Franks, chairman, McHenry County.

• Scott Gryder, chairman, Kendall County.

• Chris Lauzen, chairman, Kane County Board.

• Aaron Lawlor, chairman, Lake County.

• Toni Preckwinkle, president, Cook County.

• Larry Walsh, executive, Will County.

For more information, visit ChicagoRegionalGrowth.com.

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