Intersect Illinois reboots with new campaign to lure businesses to the Land of Lincoln
After several years of relative dormancy, the state's public-private business attraction agency is coming back with a new strategy to lure certain out-of state companies to the Land of Lincoln.
Intersect Illinois' new marketing campaign, dubbed "Be in Illinois," plays up some of Illinois' strongest sectors - including agriculture, manufacturing, technology, life sciences, logistics, and electric vehicles.
"Some states like to put up billboards along the highways and hope that (the) .001% of people who drive by who are in business and thinking about relocating will move. I think that's a horrible approach," said Dan Seals, the CEO of Intersect Illinois. "I think a better way is to be very targeted, and play to our strengths."
Many states vying for that interest often play up one of Illinois' perceived drawbacks - a higher cost of doing business. Seals said he's emphasizing a focus on quality over costs.
"When we talk about Illinois, we talk about how much value we provide, the quality of the workforce that you get for what you're paying for, the returns that you get," he said. "It's one thing just to focus on price. But when you think about what you're getting for what you're paying, then it's a very different conversation."
To date, the biggest fish caught by Intersect Illinois' is Rivian, the electric vehicle manufacturer now occupying the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal. A bevy of state and local tax and economic incentives helped reel Rivian in.
Seals said Illinois has a lot of the right components at play to bring more Rivians in. That includes the state's central location and logistical infrastructure, a skilled workforce, and recently-created state incentives created for EV companies, like direct consumer sales.
Seals said he focusing on marketing the entire state with the "Be In Illinois" campaign - not just Chicago.
"Everything that we say about Illinois, a lot of that applies to Peoria and other parts of the state. You've got a fantastic story to tell there. You also have a fantastic economic development group in the Greater Peoria EDC," Seals said. "We partner with them, and we bring projects in, and then partner with them to try to get those projects located in places like Peoria."
If the campaign goes according to plan, Seals said it's unlikely you'll notice it at all if you live in Illinois.
"We're not trying to attract you to Illinois, right? You're going to see this if you are a company that is outside of Illinois," he said.
For example, online advertisements might make a sales pitch for Illinois to an EV company. Clicking that ad gets a conversation started with Intersect Illinois, who can discuss relocation and begin identifying potential sites for relocation.
"I think we've been too shy about telling our story. So now is the time to get out there, with a pandemic ending. People are starting to think more about expansions, and really make the case for Illinois, and tell our story," Seals said.