Intersect Illinois sees growing business interest in downstate sites
The state's business attraction agency is seeing more interest in sites outside the Chicago area.
That's according to Dan Seals, CEO of Intersect Illinois. He said 50% of their projects this year were downstate, and there was a 22% increase in project opportunities there.
"I think a lot of times there's concern that Chicagoland is going to suck up all the air in the room. So we make a concerted effort to market the great sites and assets that we have outside of Chicago," he said.
Some of those projects include LG Chem/ADM in Decatur, Manner Polymers in Mount Vernon, and an Ollie's Bargain Outlet distribution center in Princeton.
About three-quarters of the business reloactions or expansions Intersect Illinois helped coordinate were in the agribusiness sector. Seals calls the sector "the gift that never stops giving."
"It's taking this product that we've had for as long as we've been around and mixing it with the innovation from our people. And we're producing new value there," he said. "It's a really great asset and frankly, advantage that we have, and we'd like to tell that story every chance we can."
Seals said Intersect Illinois closed eight major projects in fiscal year 2023, creating more than a thousand new jobs and bringing nearly $1.4 billion in capital investment.
The state's central location is a key asset, Seals said. So is a focus on site selection and workforce development.
He said Intersect Illinois also wants to up the positive marketing of the Land of Lincoln. He said others have been allowed to tell the state's story for too long.
"We are a $1 trillion economy, fifth largest in the country. If we were a country of our own, we'd be a member of the G20. That's not an accident. We have a lot of assets here. And I think it's important that we tell our story," he said.
Moving forward, Seals said Intersect Illinois is seeing a growing interest among tech companies. In the last year, 382 companies moved to the state or expanded.
"We're seeing companies that are in bioplastics that are in clean energy, solar, and of course, electric vehicles. So what we're finding is that we have an advantage there over other states in those areas," he said. "So we want to lean into that even more, try to draw more electric vehicle factories, and as well as suppliers. (We would) like to see more work around semiconductor facilities and see if we can bring those in."