Over 1,000 Cook County manufacturers shed insight on what they need to move forward from disruption. Together, Cook County and IMEC gathered these insights to inform policies designed to help them thrive.
Chicago, IL – March 16, 2021: With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cook County partnered with IMEC to conduct a historic outreach and census of suburban Cook manufacturers to ascertain the impact of the pandemic on their business. Over 1,000 manufacturers were surveyed to better understand their most urgent needs.
“Manufacturing continues to play a critical role in the Chicago region’s economy”, said Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President. “In Cook County alone, manufacturing employs 192,500 persons, generates $87.5 Billion in economic output and accounts for 7.1% of Cook County’s gross domestic product.” (source IMA, Manufacturing Matters). It is an economic engine, driven not by a powerhouse of a few large multi-nationals, but a vast community of people who live and work in the Chicago region.
“We know that COVID disrupted supply chains and required companies to change their use of space, modify hours, develop ways to sustain customer relationships, consider new forms of production, protect their employees, and more.”, said David Boulay, President of IMEC. He went onto say, “Knowing the implications of COVID will be with us for some time, we thought it essential that we connect directly with manufacturers to understand these pressing issues.”
Cook County recognizes that manufacturing plays a central role in the region’s economy. It has a multiplier impact greater than most other sectors and provides career pathways and well-paying jobs for Cook County residents. According to the Illinois Manufacturing Association (IMA), those employed in manufacturing earn more than $89,000 in wages and benefits, which is significantly higher than nearly every other sector including construction, finance and insurance, retail, and transportation and warehousing. In fact, the Chicago region – and suburban Cook County – remains one of the largest metals manufacturing regions in the nation in terms of both employment and output.
“I believe that the results of this survey will represent an amazing collective voice for suburban Cook County manufacturers. The responses will illustrate the true challenges and opportunities that small, family-owned manufacturers are facing as we rebound from the pandemic. Cook county manufacturers are feeling competitive pressures not just globally, but from places as close by as neighboring states. As the backbone of US manufacturing, our voices are essential to help guide policy to make us competitive. I’m glad that Cook county and IMEC have undertaken this important work.” – Craig Van den Avont, President at GAM Enterprises, Inc.
Findings from the survey show manufacturers’ needs are far more based on the size of operation than on location or manufacturing sub-sector; with ‘create growth opportunities’ rising to the #1 priority among 69% of respondents. With this deeper understanding of the varying needs of our manufactures of all sizes, Cook County and IMEC will work together to develop a roadmap to support our impacted manufacturing community. This survey and report serve as a beginning to regularly gain insights into manufacturer needs, create policy solutions, and craft programs and services to strengthen manufacturing in one of the largest manufacturing counties in the nation.
To view the report in its entirety or to find out more information, please visit https://www.imec.org/scc_census/.
IMEC is a team of improvement specialists who are dedicated to changing lives and creating a positive impact on Illinois’ workforce and economy. With a mission to drive growth through enterprise excellence, they help organizations become more effective and efficient by identifying issues, developing and implementing solutions, and providing the necessary support that will allow them to excel in areas of leadership, strategy, customer engagement, operations, workforce, and measurement and results. In 2020, they assisted over 1,144 companies and help create or retain over 6100 jobs, resulting in over $645M aggregate impact on the Illinois economy. IMEC has seven offices statewide and 48 full-time industry improvement specialists. For more information, visit www.imec.org.