President Pam's Blog

Pam Cumpata

Pam's Blog - July 2017

Creativity in the Face of Adversity

The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.

- Bob Igor

Creativity comes as natural as breathing to children.  Any object can become a toy and any situation can turn into a game.  As we get older creativity may often become associated with risk, a four-letter word to many business leaders.  Add in stresses such as a down economy or unexpected losses and most CEOs wanted to hunker down, play it safe and ride out the storm.  But that isn’t necessarily the best approach.  Sometimes the best way to face adversity is to go back to our roots of creative thinking.  Need some convincing?  I want to share some stories from our MCEDC Business Champions.  (Annually, MCEDC recognizes primary employers who have made a positive impact on McHenry County’s economy. These exceptional companies have strong vision, a solid business strategy, value employee education and subscribe to best practices making them stand out among others.) Here are three examples from our Business Champions that show how their businesses have thrived, despite their circumstances, by taking a new ‘creative’ approach to business. 

When the 2009 downturn happened, many local businesses found themselves facing unfamiliar and difficult financial challenges.  Heartland Cabinet Supply was no exception.  Heavily connected to the residential housing market, Heartland saw their residential cabinet installations quickly dwindle to almost nothing.  Owner, Gary Reece, knew a creative approach to his business was in order.  Rather than doing things the same way he always had, Gary invested in new equipment and employee training and education.  This allowed him to pursue the commercial market for the first time.  His new approach paid off and over the last few years Heartland Cabinet Supply has realized 200% growth and increased profitability.

Another example of creative thinking impacting success is Matrix 4.  After almost 40 years in business, this family-owned manufacturing company found themselves struggling to just stay afloat.  The crisis reached its peak in 2014.  At that time, CEO, Patricia Miller, knew things had to be done differently.  She invested in the latest technology and instituted a revitalization plan that completely changed the way they approached their business.  They reimagined and repositioned themselves as a design and marketing house capable of handling the design, engineering tooling and manufacturing needs of their clients.  As a result, Matrix IV went from being a struggling manufacturer to a $5 to 10 million company that is a more valuable partner to its clients.

A final example is Metalmaster-Roofmaster.  Just like Heartland Cabinet Supply, Metalmaster-Roofmaster was hit hard by the 2009 recession.  However, they took the financial challenges head-on investing in new environmentally-friendly and LEED certified products and services.  This creative approach brought in a new client base they hadn’t looked at before.  They thrived in this new market and today are recognized as a leader in their industry nation-wide. 

In each of these cases, the executive leadership refused to succumb to the “we have always done it this way” notion of business.  Instead, they thought outside of the proverbial box and looked for creative ways to manage the changes around them.  Their imaginative approaches allowed them to lead their companies from downturn to survival to prosperity.  As business owners, we will always face challenges along the road to success.  The question is how we will address them.  Do we go back the way we came counting on the “we’ve always done it this way” or will we look for a new path to prosperity? 

For over 25 years, MCEDC has been there to help McHenry County businesses navigate new paths and directions. Learn more about our resources, connections and how we can help by giving us a call or visiting our website www.mchenrycountyedc.com.

 

 

 

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Pam Cumpata

Pam's Blog - June 2017

The Role of Economic Development

Empowerment isn’t a buzzword among leadership gurus.  It’s a proven technique where leaders give their teams the appropriate training, tools, resources, and guidance to succeed.

I’m often asked “So, what is it you do?” Over the years I have gotten a variety of reactions from enthusiasm to a polite smile.  I have come to realize that many people out there, including some of the readers of this article aren’t exactly sure what economic development means . . .so for all the “smile-and-nodders” out there – this article is for you!

When I think about the role of the McHenry County EDC I always come back to the word “empowerment”.  This is a word that gets tossed around a lot lately.  You might even say it has risen to the level of “buzzword” status.  I am not one to use a lot of jargon or buzzwords, but as business leader John Rampton points out so eloquently in his quote, empowerment should not be treated so cavalierly.  To empower someone really means to change their life.  How?  By giving them everything they truly need to prosper.  Guidance, training, resources . . .these are the tools of long-term success.  Let me give you some examples of what I mean.

The McHenry County EDC is a liaison between the businesses of the county and regional and federal agencies.  For example, we partner with Metro Chicago Exports which focuses on the needs of county businesses that seek to export their products.  As a result of this partnership, we are able to offer any business in the county that wants to start exporting or expand their exporting an opportunity to apply for an annual grant that is given by Metro Chicago Exports.  In addition, we offer businesses guidance in applying for this grant as well as other resources and opportunities for exporting.  In turn, this empowers our local businesses by helping them compete in the larger global economy.  

Another example can be found in the wide range of resources we offer existing business owners in the county to help them grow.  We can provide demographic data, industry data and census data that can be used in business or marketing plans.  The McHenry County EDC can help businesses navigate through the financing process and take the guess work and aggravation out of what could otherwise be a daunting process.  Our “Enhancing Excellence” speaker series, CEO Peer Group and CRO Peer Group provide avenues for our business leaders to engage with and learn from experts and peers alike.  All of this translates to into stronger, healthier, and yes, empowered leadership and businesses throughout the county.

Information meetings for the new CRO Peer Group (Chief Revenue Officer – Sales VP, Director of Sales, etc.) will be held on June 9th and June 12 at 8:30 am in our offices in Crystal Lake, call me to rsvp. 815.893.0895.

These are just a few illustrations of the ways in which the EDC seeks to help those who live and work in McHenry County.  We are the advocate of the businesses that call this county home, and we take that role very seriously.  We help business leaders cut through the “red tape” and get things done.  Our goal is to help each and every business in the county position themselves for growth year after year.  We cannot control what the future brings but we can be darn sure that we will do everything we can to help our local businesses, and community, thrive.  Maybe the next time I am asked the “what do you do” question I should answer “I am in the empowerment business”.

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Pam's Blog - April 2017

Millennials?

Millennials.  We hear a lot about them these days and for good reason.  According to a recent report released from the Pew Research Foundation, Millennials (age 18-34) surpassed Baby Boomers (age 51-69) in 2016 as the largest living generation in the United States with a total population of 75.4 million people.  

You may have heard that the Millennial generation was flocking to the cities wanting the convenience of city living.  But the pendulum is now beginning to swing back to the suburbs.  It seems that as they get married and start “settling down” Millennials want to trade the urban lifestyle they once so readily embraced for a more balanced quality of life in the suburbs.  Most adults of this generation have fond memories of family life in smaller towns and cities and want their own children to have that same experience.  They also want to keep the conveniences they have come to enjoy living in urban areas.  In short, Millennials are looking for the best of both worlds.  So what does this mean for McHenry County?  It means opportunity!

McHenry County can take advantage of the desire of millennials to live in Chicago style ‘neighborhoods’ ...by boasting about Woodstock, Crystal Lake, McHenry, Algonquin, any of our 30 unique municipalities.  Each of these “neighborhoods’ have the coffee shops, restaurants, community activities desired by millennials as they create their family and find their work life balance. 

Back in 2014, Forbes identified Chicago as the 4th best city for Millennials.  At that time, it estimated 14% of Chicago’s population was 25-34.  This means the potential to attract a new generation of families to our area is huge.  This generation is all about quality of life.  They want good schools for their children, safe neighborhoods and good jobs.  Many in this generation want a work-from-home option as they struggle to maintain work life balance or a community workplace and meeting space for small businesses, entrepreneurs, virtual employees and corporate teams.  They are looking for solid technology infrastructure and good public transportation and will happily trade a commute in the car for a commute by train or bicycle.  McHenry County is fortunate to have solid Metra service and governments who have worked to improve bike access.  Locally owned businesses can expect a great deal of support from this generation and should work on attracting talent in this age bracket.  Restaurants, farmer’s markets, bars, local artists and coffee shops in our muni’s will also benefit as Millennials seek out unique and fun places to unwind after a long week.

One area this group struggles with, however, is home ownership.  They look at owning their own home as the ultimate symbol of “The American Dream”.  With housing inventory in short supply in our county and interest rates still low, those that can buy are helping to reinvigorate a rebounding housing market which is good news for our local real estate marketing.  However, many Millennials have been dealing with huge amounts of student loan debt which has prevented them from being able to save money to any great degree. While this is certain to improve over time as they advance in their careers, for now this group of families need single-family home rental options or multi-family housing in greater numbers than we have seen in the past.   To keep the convenience of urban life, housing that is located near our downtown areas where they can easily access local businesses and trains is desired.  

Just like the Baby Boomers before them, Millennials are going to change the landscape of America. MCEDC is working with our partners to market McHenry County and its assets to attract, not just business, but also the workforce needed to sustain and grow our businesses.  Millennials have the potential to help McHenry County win big in the years to come as they start families and bring their spending power, talent, volunteerism and philanthropy from Chicago and other cities to McHenry County.  MCEDC is engaged in developing strategies to reach out to this next generation and urge employers to review their growth and recruitment strategies to find ways to attract this next generation to McHenry County - we do have the best of  the two lifestyles they seek.  

Are you ready for the Millennials?  Our kick off to the 2017 “Enhancing Excellence” breakfast speaker series will be covering this very topic and much more!   Join us on May 18, 2017, 7:30 – 9:30 am,  Crystal Lake Country Club, 721 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake. Reservations are required visit the MCEDC website at http://www.mchenrycountyedc.com/contact/online-event-registration or contact the office at 815.893.0895.

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Pam Cumpata

Pam's Blog - March 2017

"Knowledge is power" Francis Bacon

Recently I was spending time with my grandchildren and thinking about how different life will be for them compared to how it was when I was growing up. Take for example, the process of writing a school report. When I was a kid, it involved a trip to the library and a card catalog that really was cards. Or, if you were lucky enough, your parents or a friend's parents had a set of encyclopedias that you could use in a pinch. Now we have the internet, and with just a few clicks of the mouse, my granddaughter can unlock an entire world of information. For her, the issue is not finding it, but sorting through it and deciding what is good. The same holds true for businesses today.

Businesses thrive on access to solid information. Just like my granddaughter, the internet has opened an entire world of data that is relatively easy to access. Many businesses are struggling not with quantity, but quality. How do I know the data is any good? Does it really pertain to me? Is it accurate? These are the questions being asked. Business leaders know the quality of the data could be the difference between mediocre or amazing when it comes to crafting strategy and making decisions. That is why the McHenry County Economic Development Corp. (MCEDC) works hard to provide our local business community with data and research that is both meaningful and trustworthy.

A perfect illustration of our work in this area are the business visitations we conduct each year. Over the course of a year, MCEDC staff, board members and partners conducted 100 individual one on one business visitations. Why? First, we want to let our businesses know that they are valued and appreciated for their impact on our economy. Secondly, through these meetings, we can see trends, issues and concerns that need to be communicated and addressed.

For example, a recurrent theme we heard during the visitations in 2012, 2013 and 2014 was a concern for developing a skilled workforce to replace an aging one. To act on this issue, MCEDC has been partnering with McHenry County College, the McHenry County Workforce Investment Board and others to provide skills training and to establish a youth outreach program on the value of, and need for, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. From intern programs to facility tours, we are actively engaging our youth and encouraging the development of skills which we need in our workplace today and tomorrow.

Using the insights gained in the business visitations, the MCEDC has also been able to provide customized assistance either by connecting companies to resources that they may need, advocating for solutions to the challenges they are facing, or finding solutions to obstacles they are experiencing. Odds are if one company is working to overcome a challenge, other companies in the county are facing similar situations. For this reason, we also seek to communicate the knowledge we gain and the data we collect in a meaningful way that benefits all the businesses in the county through educational forums for municipal staff and elected officials as well as economic development presentations before business groups.

These presentations provide information on basic economic development practices as well as current trends, highlight the collaboration that occurs regionally, as well as with municipal staff and MCEDC through partnering for business visitations, providing research and proprietary reports (over 1000 during the last 5 years) as well as sharing information on initiatives and programs that could support municipalities and local businesses. We also have a wide range of data and resources including Economic Modeling, which is available through our website or by giving us a call. Think of it as a "one-stop-shop" for business information.

Francis Bacon stated that "knowledge is power" and I couldn't agree more. At the MCEDC, we work diligently to empower our businesses and municipalities with reliable knowledge that truly fuels economic growth. If you haven't used our resources in the past, I encourage you to visit our website (Click here) and check out all of the available support and data that can help your business grow.

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Pam Cumpata

Pam's Blog - January 2017

The pessimist complains about the wind;the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails. William Arthur Ward

The start of a new year is a great time to take a moment to think through our goals and aspirations for the months ahead. As I was doing that myself for the MCEDC, I came across this quote from the ‘King of Inspiration’, William Arthur Ward and I was struck by how true this really is and how our attitudes and perceptions can form our outlook and impact how we lead our businesses.

Our attitude ultimately becomes the lens through which we view our world. If we focus on the positive, then the world becomes tinted by the proverbial rose colored glasses. If we choose to focus on the negative, then we will see the negative in everyone and everything around us. These images of the optimist and pessimist are nothing new and have been around a long time. They are the traditional black and white of attitudes. But if there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that life is a whole lot of gray.

Enter the realist. One of our recent Business Champions was faced with the realty that he needed to broaden his outreach and find new markets for his products. This company adjusted their sails and forged ahead creating their own new reality. (http://www.mchenrycountyedc.com/connect/business-champions). Another McHenry County company had the need to expand...the realty of an expansion meant it would impact not only the company and its employees, but the community as well. These companies were realists and unlike the pessimist, these realists didn’t look at the inevitable ups and downs of life as a bad thing. They understood it for what it is; a fact of life and an opportunity. They didn’t become immobilized by fear, slash budgets and wait for the sky to fall. They also didn’t dismiss the signs of change in their industry or the economy with an optimistic “everything is fine” attitude either. Instead they did their research, analyzed their situations and decided on the best path for moving forward. And then they moved, full sail ahead. (http://www.mchenrycountyedc.com/connect/local-business-spotlight/fabrik-industries-expansion)

We are fortunate here that we have many such business leaders from both large and small companies that call McHenry County home. They took action...expanding their footprint, innovating, provided up training for employees and developed new products...which is what sets the realist apart from others. Realists don’t wait for things to get better, they make them better. Realists are Doers. They understand that it is up to them to find the path for their own success and help their people get there. They help inspire the pessimist and lead the optimist to action. They set goals that are actionable, measurable and attainable. They look for ways to improve themselves and their business.

One great example, is the MCEDC CEO Peer Group which has just celebrated its first year. Members are from varied business sectors all willing to dive in and take action. This intensive leadership program is dedicated to helping CEO’s grow their skills, broaden their horizon, help solve opportunities for growth and improve their bottom line. (For more information on the next group being formed now, go to http://www.mchenrycountyedc.com/about-us/ceo-peer-group).

Realists also know that they can’t do it alone because, in the end, it isn’t just about them. It is about their business, their team and their employees. It is about looking beyond what is good for the month or the quarter and have the vision to see what will be good for the next 2 years, 5 years and down the road and about biting a bullet for long term growth. At MCEDC we want to be on your team. We can help to set a direction from which to sail, to line up partners who can address a need, and provide resources as well as the support needed to reach a goal.

As we begin 2017, I challenge you to reflect a moment on the words of William Arthur Ward. What kind of attitude do you have? Do you see your industry as shrinking or do you actively look for new markets and new technologies that will help you move forward in ways you hadn’t thought about before? Do you keep doing things the same way you always have and hope that everything will get better, or do you look for ways to improve yourself, your businesses and your community? Do you stare at the glass and wonder if it is half empty or half full – or do you go and look for more water? How is your ship sailing?

Pam Cumpata, President
McHenry County Economic Development Corporation

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25th Anniversary Dinner - October 2016

I am delighted with the success of our 25th Anniversary dinner.  I often say with pride that this event is the premier business event in the county.  Well, we can certainly back that up with the fact that the room was filled with over 450 of McHenry County’s business leaders. 

Full Room

 

The MCEDC Chairman of the Board, Jamie Maravich,  welcomed our attendees and thanked the presenting Sponsors the McHenry County Community Foundation and BMO Harris Bank as well as the Premier Sponsors, Blackhawk Bank, Centegra Health System and Innovative Component Sales and our many Investor Sponsors who all helped make this event a success.

Jamie Welcome

 

New this year to our event, was recognition by the McHenry County Community Foundation of the Philanthropist of the Year Award.  Robin Doeden, Executive Director presented the Award to Don & Chris Schellhaass.

Robin Announcement Robin Philsan

 

One of the highlights of the evening is always the recognition of the Business Champion Finalists.  Our Business Champion Co-Chairs, Steve Middaugh and Sue Dobbe introduced the 18 companies which were finalists.

Steve and Sue

 

Our guests enjoyed seeing the lobby display of previous Business Champions as well as those of the 2016 Finalists.

Business Champs lobby photo

 

Sage Products CEO, Scott Brown,  introduced our keynote speaker, Kevin Lobo, Chairman and CEO of Stryker Corporation. Not only did Mr. Lobo share information on Stryker, but he provided insight into its acquisition of Sage and what an exceptional company it is and that both companies share a philosophy, value system and vision of excellence. 

Scott Brown

Kevin Lobo at podium Kevin Lobo Pam Scott Brown

 

One of MCEDC’s initiatives is our CEO Peer Groups. David Hubbard, MCEDC Secretary introduced our inaugural team which celebrated their first anniversary this month.  (New teams are currently being formed and anyone interested in more information should let me know.)

Hubbard and CEO Peer Group

 

For the past 9 years, the announcement of the 2016 Business Champions is a highlight of the evening. As they accepted their award, each CEO shared their company’s story , all of which were enlightening, encouraging and inspiring.

 

Gary Reece, Heartland Cabinet Supply

Gary Reece accepting Gary Reece and team

 

Robert Jessup, Jessup Manufacturing

Rob Jessup accepting Jessup Team

 

Jill Dinsmore, JA Frate Companies

Jill accepting Jills Team

 

Keith Wagner, Fabrik Molded Plastics

Keith Wagner Accepting Keiths team alone

 

Michael Eesley, Centegra Health System

Eesley accepting Eesley team

 

It was a great evening and a spectacular way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our organization, dedicated to supporting our business community and to making the McHenry County a great place to do business. 

Click here to view more photos

 

 Pam 2

 

We look forward to an exciting 2017...connect with us!

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25th Anniversary Dinner

On August 4th, Centegra Health System cut the ribbon for their new state of the art hospital. I had the pleasure of attending this regionally impactful event. As I toured the emergency room, I noticed equipment bearing the Stryker name and smiled, proud that the MCEDC’s Keynote Speaker for the 25th Anniversary Dinner is Kevin Lobo, Chairman & CEO of Stryker Corporation.

Stryker is one of the world’s leading medical technology companies and offer a diverse array of innovative products and services in Orthopaedics, Medical and Surgical, and Neurotechnology and Spine that help improve patient and hospital outcomes. Stryker is active in over 100 countries and in 2016 acquired 45 year old Sage Products which has over 800 employees in Cary.

In addition to the business insight Mr. Lobo will share, the highlight of the evening will be the recognition of the 2016 Business Champions. And, this year, we are proud to be partnering with the McHenry County Community Foundation who in honor of their 15th anniversary will be presenting the Philanthropist of the Year Award.

The evening begins at 5 pm with networking, 6 pm dinner, followed by our keynote address and award presentations. Seating for this premier business networking event is first come, first served. To register, click here.

 

 

Thanks to our PRESENTING SPONSORS

BMO logo MCCF logo

 

as well as our PREMIER SPONSORS for their support

blackhawk bank centegra ics

 

 

 

 

 

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Pam Cumpata

Current and Former MCEDC Board Members Reconnect at 25th Anniversary Celebration

Your McHenry County Economic Development Corporation is celebrating our 25th anniversary. On Thursday May 19th, over 50 current and former board members reconnected with a celebration at Three Oaks Recreation Area. In preparation for celebrating 25 years of an organization, I read through 25 years of annual reports, but nothing can replace the stories and live history shared by former board members.

Maravich speaking
Pictured, Jamie Maravich

Attendees during presentation

Pictured, Attendees gathered during presentation

Charie Strahl Carstens Koehler
(Pictured L-R) Charie Zanck, David Strahl, Kit Carstens, Ken Koehler

Dobbe Messina Orphal
(Pictured L-R) Lisa Messina, Lyn Orphal, Sue Dobbe

Originally created by business leaders to provide nimble and responsible economic development services, we still pride ourselves today in being the ‘go to’ organization. Our mission of retention, expansion and attraction is as vital in today’s economy than it was 25 years ago.

Retention - With our robust business visitation program, we are in touch with our diverse business community and can provide them with assistance and support, be it demographics, workforce, legislative advocacy, supply chain referrals, financing options and much more.

Expansion - As I have mentioned in the past, expansion is key to a vibrant economy since 80% of new businesses are born out of existing businesses. One of the results of our business visitation program is that we are top of mind when a business is thinking of expanding and we are there to provide assistance and help them along the way.

Attraction - MCEDC’s attraction efforts are multi-faceted, we continually work to raise the visibility of McHenry County both in the US as well as globally and are proud to have the ‘first in Illinois’ certified sites website for those considering relocation. The more businesses that call McHenry County home, the more diverse the tax base.

Heldt Rentzsch Saladin
(Pictured L-R) Brad Heldt, Michelle Rentzsch, Mark Saladin

As our current and former Board of Directors recalled highlights, challenges and the many successes of the organization, we recognize that the foundation building that began 25 years ago is continuing to bear fruit in 2016.

From championing transportation and infrastructure developments including our sentinel project the Algonquin Bypass; creating a ‘one voice’ concept to secure transportation funding; supporting the growing training needs of our workforce through such programs as the Welding Bootcamp, targeted manufacturing training at MCC and partnering with the Workforce Investment Board; creating a dedicated Manufacturing Directory to improve supply chain sales; providing youth career education opportunities thru our Careers in our County events and the high school trips to the International Manufacturing Technology show; creating Manufacturing Matchmaking events, planners charrettes, municipal economic development roundtables, business forums and more, we have connected and impacted the growth of this County.

Pierce Curran Blazier
(Pictured L-R) Sandra Pierce, Dan Curran, Bob Blazier

 

Thorpe Berry Zanck
(Pictured L-R) Jim Thorpe, Bob Berry, Tom Zanck

Often our services are behind the scenes and confidential, but know we are there connecting businesses, championing business causes through advocacy efforts, partnering with local, regional and national entities, and working to bring business such as Medela & Corporate Disk to McHenry County.

We want to take this opportunity to thank our many investor/members for their support over the past 25 years and to tell their over 15,000 employees, McHenry County businesses as well as the residents, that MCEDC will continue to be their advocate, their “Go To” organization and the voice of business as we impact and shape our economy in the future.

Visit www.mcedc.com for updates and information on the business environment.

 

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Northwest Herald Article - April 2016

The Brookings Institution, a private non-profit organization whose mission is to conduct high quality, independent research and, based on research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policy makers and the public, recently released a report on the "Remaking of Economic Development."

The five action principles are as follows:

  • Set the right goals - reflect a more foundational and holistic approach to expand the economy and opportunity
  • Grow from within - prioritize established and emerging firms and industries, invest in ecosystems of innovation, trade, talent, infrastructure and governance to support globally competitive firms and small business to start and grow
  • Boost trade - facilitate export growth and trade with other markets, deepen regional industry specializations and bring in new income and investment
  • Invest in people and skills - human capital and increasing capabilities results in meaningful work and income gains
  • Connect Place - catalyze economic place making and work, connect local communities to regional jobs, housing and opportunity.

What creates excitement and pride for me personally, is that the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation along with our local partners - McHenry County Government, McHenry County Workforce Board and Network, McHenry County College, McHenry County Education districts, Primary Employers, Health Systems, Agriculture leaders, our municipal partners and collaborative entities, have been executing on these Five Action Principles for years and ‘remaking’ is not necessary.

Business retention and expansion has been critical to understanding and providing assistance to companies growing right here.  MCEDC is a one stop shop providing resources, research and consulting to help businesses grow.  Our Business Retention and Expansion committee was created 25 years ago with volunteers who participated in our Business Visitation program.  We still do these and in fact, these visits are part of our strategic priorities.  By meeting with a company, we can determining needs, connect them to resources, provide troubleshooting and can be their voice in Springfield and Washington DC.

Connecting with the workforce of today and tomorrow has also been a priority with us.  Our business ambassador program had business volunteers meet with high school classes in the early 2000’s, we partnered with MCC on the Welding Bootcamp in 2007 and in subsequent collaborations helped to establish a robust manufacturing curriculum. 

Who remembers "Careers in our County"?  Over 3,000 high school students had an opportunity to meet with 30 McHenry County employers at MCC and Woodstock North High School for this event which MCEDC held for several years.  Now MCC and many high schools are doing it themselves.  But back 10 years ago, the MCEDC board and staff saw the need to expose our young people to careers right here.  I can remember the presentation by local Human Resource professionals who asked "How many piercing and mid drift is too much to show at an interview?" Some of you may say that still should be presented in high school and older along with turn off your cell phones doing interviews!

In 2012, many county manufacturers financially supported over 800 high school students so they could attend the International Manufacturing Technology Show and then in 2014 supported another 1,200 high school students to the show.  Ask any educator and student who attended the show how impressed the students were with the machines, the processes, the careers and how it helped them to understand the components of manufacturing and opened their eyes to potential careers.

Infrastructure investment - who led the way those many years ago?  From the Algonquin Bypass, the MCEDC Road Warriors and the Road Kill Lunches we provided for our Springfield legislators, MCEDC has been a loud voice supporting transportation and road projects.  As the MCEDC celebrates 25 years, we are looking through many pictures that show our investors, elected officials and others traveling to Springfield and Washington to advocate for funding to address congestion and road projects.  Now, we continue our focus on the new super highway - dark fiber and connectivity - so that every business, home, school, emergency management, municipality can operate effectively.

On a regional basis, McHenry County is working closely with our Chicago area partners on a number of initiatives:  Chicago Metro Metals Consortium, Chicago Metro Exports, Foreign Direct Investment and then with our partners in Boone and Winnebago, the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.

A few other initiatives initiated by MCEDC include:  a dedicated manufacturing website, the first in Illinois Certified Sites website, Manufacturing Matchmaking events, planners charrettes, legislative forums, muni economic development roundtables, McHenry County Makers Movement, CEO Peer Group, Emerging Leaders Program, Enhancing Excellence speaker series, workforce housing focus and of course, Visit McHenry County, which also began as a committee of the MCEDC.

Globally, the Brookings Institution is well respected and I am thrilled and excited to have the opportunity to work with them on the Export and Foreign Direct investment projects.  I am also pleased that MCEDC and our Board of Directors over the years have had the economic development vision that is highlighted in the Brookings report.    As you can see from the initiatives that grew out of the MCEDC, we were and continue to be ahead of the curve.  As an organization, we are extremely proud of these accomplishments and excited for the economic development future for McHenry County.

Visit www.mcedc.com for information on upcoming events, opportunities and assistance.

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Exporting Grants Available for Manufacturers & Reminder Enhancing Excellence Speaker Event April 12th, 2016

As I have mentioned in the past, we have been collaborating with METRO
CHICAO EXPORTS, which includes the seven counties in Northeastern Illinois and
the City of Chicago/World Business Chicago to increase exports from small and
midsized forms to support regional job growth.

For the second year running, the Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program will award grants up to $5,000 to small and medium-sized companies in McHenry County and Northeastern Illinois.  These grants will reimburse 50 percent of eligible expenses associated with exporting, such as executive training, trade show participation, and international certifications. If you have been thinking about exporting, this is a great opportunity.

The 2016 Grant Program will accept applications through May 27, 2016. Later this year, Metro
Chicago Exports will host a pitch fest during which both 2015 and 2016 grant recipients will be eligible to submit a pitch for additional funding totaling $30,000. Additional details and eligibility requirements pertaining to the 2016 Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program are available at www.MetroChicagoExports.com or contact me at 815.893.0895.

CAN’T MISS EVENT - Just a reminder that our 2016 Enhancing Excellent Speaker series kicks off on April 12th, 2016 at the Crystal Lake Country Club from 7:30 to 9:30 AM. Our speaker, Bill Strauss, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, will focus on the state of OUR Midwest Economy. His presentation is sure to be enlightening as well as entertaining and breakfast is always delicious. MCEDC Investor/members $20.00 – Others $35. Please call to make reservations by Friday, April 8, or register online at www.mchenrycountyedc.com/events.

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Northwest Herald Article - March 2016

Spring is rapidly approaching with longer days of light, flowers blooming, the local garden center keeps me posted on what is being planted. Spring is that time for new beginnings and provides us the opportunity to start fresh. Soon the farmers will be tilling the soil in preparation for growing crops. Just like the farmers tilling the soil, we too can prepare ourselves for planting crops by taking advantage of educational events and networking events throughout the region.

The MCEDC is celebrating our 25th Anniversary in 2016. Over the last 25 years, the MCEDC has worked to create a positive environment for business growth....to make McHenry County a great place to start a business, run a business, maintain a business or expand a business... all while providing the community with the benefits of an expanded tax base, primary and secondary job opportunities. It takes many touch points, a great deal of outreach, tremendous collaboration and leadership to mold a positive environment for business.

Regarding touch points, coming up next week, our Makers Movement ‘Meetup’ will be on March 7th at 4:30 – 6pm here at our offices (call our office to register-no cost). We are gathering inventors, designers, tinkerers and artisans; mentors who have experience and expertise to share; and angel investors who want to support and grow a project as we build a Makers Movement right here in McHenry County. I am pleased to say our Maker’s Movement is gaining momentum with interest from numerous inventors and entrepreneurs as well as mentors and investors. We have invited an angel investor, Stan Lynall, CPA, to speak at our March 7th meeting. He is one of the founders and architects of the Central Illinois Angels (CIA). Central Illinois Angels is a nonprofit membership-based angel investment organization composed of business leaders and professionals in Central Illinois. Over the last seven years, the CIA has invested over $8 million dollars in early stage opportunities. Mr. Lynall will discuss how forming the investment group has led to growth in local business opportunities due to the CIA’s investments in a variety of technological advancements developed by entrepreneurs in the area. We hope this initiative will spark future businesses and take those ideas drawn on a napkin and make them reality. We are looking for innovators, entrepreneurs, investors as well as mentors in all areas who are interested in helping grow the opportunities available here in McHenry County.

As part of our “Enhancing Excellence” Speaker series, we are excited to bring in a heavy hitter with a great sense of humor. William A. Strauss, a senior economist and economic advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, will share his expertise on the Midwest economy as well as the manufacturing and automotive sectors. Call our office or register online for this April 12th, 2016 event which will be held at the Crystal Lake Country Club from 7:30 – 9:30 am. Cost is $20 for MCEDC Investors/members and $35 for others.

Our inaugural CEO Peer Group has been meeting for several months and with its successful launch, we are now ready to expand to a second group. The CEO Peer Group is a confidential place to improve leadership skills, have a unique opportunity to connect, learn and succeed in an environment designed to realize opportunities, overcome challenges and promote economic success. Each group consists of only 10 executives in noncompetitive markets, based upon leadership styles, fit and synergy. There are 12 half day workshops throughout 2016-2017 which accelerate the leadership journey among like-minded executive peers. Each group is led by an accomplished business trainer, Chris Kremer of The Success Catalyst and is designed for executives committed to personal and professional improvement. Please call me to learn more about our CEO Peer Group opportunity and our upcoming informational meeting on May 12th from 5 to 7pm.

Also up ahead, the Enhancing Excellence speaker series will continue, the 2016 municipal round tables for our economic development partners will kick off in April and as part of our 25th Anniversary celebration, we will be holding events for our former board of Directors, business leaders who volunteered their time and expertise and who had a passion for economic development as well as the famous ‘Road Warriors’ and members of the Better Roads Coalition who supported McHenry County’s transportation priorities. To keep in touch with MCEDC activities and events, please visit our website home page at www.mchenrycountyedc.com.

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Makers Movement Group meet Monday March 7th!

Do you have a great idea sketched out on a napkin or sitting in a drawer for some day?

That someday may be Monday, March 7th, 2016.

The McHenry County Makers Movement is in the early stages of developing a group of entrepreneurs,
innovators, mentors and angel investors. 

Join us as we work to create our own ‘Makers’ group on Monday, March 9th.

Our offices are at the Mental Health Building, 620 Dakota Street, Crystal Lake,  

Networking will be from 4:30 – 5pm and at 5 pm, Stan Lynall, one of the founders and architects of the Central Illinois Angels (CIA) will discuss how they formed a group to help develop entrepreneurs in Central Illinois.

RSVP’s are welcome but not required. 815.893.0895

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Northwest Herald Article February 2016

Over the last 12 months, McHenry County EDC has been involved in the development of the county’s first Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy(CEDS).  The update and expansion of the CEDS for the Northern Illinois Region (Boone, McHenry and Winnebago) represents a natural evolution of a continued focus on regional collaboration in support of economic vitality.  The shared industry strengths, transportation assets and workforce positions the region to be more competitive in the global economy and better leverage resources to drive a strong economy and improve quality of life for residents.

The CEDS Planning process included a mix of public and private sector representatives  that spearheaded the process.   The Strategy Committee included leaders from manufacturing, healthcare and other companies, public officials, community leaders, economic development professionals, workforce development stakeholders and higher education representatives from across the three counties. 

Regional stakeholders prioritized alignment this CEDS with other regional plans that preceded or were concurrent with this process.

The vision is to be a world-class prosperous region with a resilient economic base and superior quality of life that outperforms peer regions in job growth, capital investment and innovation.  Great vision but  how? 

Goal 1:  A collaborative economic development strategy emphasizing communication, cooperation, alignment of initiatives, shared assets and promotion of the region for business investment.

Goal 2: Efficient business development, expansion, diversification, job growth and innovation throughout the region. 

Goal 3: Availability of a skilled and flexible workforce that successfully meets the needs of existing and emerging industries and technologies.

Goal 4: A full range of infrastructure, with emphasis on transportation, utilities and communication in order to successfully meet the needs of the region’s businesses.

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February 2016 News

February is certainly off to a fast start...

This morning I was in Chicago with Governor Rauner as he was speaking to economic development professionals and others. Jim Schultz, Director of Illinois Department of Commerce was also on hand.

Governor 2 with others  Jim Schultz

Yesterday, members of our Board of Directors and I attended the McHenry County Board Address by Chairman Gottemoller and were pleased that the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy we have been working on during 2015 was approved by the Board.

And Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending District 155’s GEMS (Girls in Engineering Math and Science) event for young women in 6 to 8th grades. Our future workforce is critical to our future success as a county to remain innovative, to retain and attract business. After talking to many young women and their parents the future looks extremely bright.

Gems 1  Gems 2

 

Call us to learn more and get connected...

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Makers Movement Meet Up Session December 16th!

We are pleased to host an information ‘Meet Up’ session for Entrepreneurs, Business Mentors and Potential Investors who are interested in being a part of a Maker’s Movement right here
in McHenry County.

You may have heard about the 'makers movement' in the news and of groups all around the world.  We believe that Innovators, Entrepreneurs, Investors should not have to travel to Chicagoor other areas to share ideas, find investors or business mentors.  We have plenty of talent and resources right here in McHenry County.

So, if you are interrested in learning more about  'Makers' and becoming part of the movement, we invite you to join us on:

Date: Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Time: 4:30 to 7:00pm

Location: 620 Dakota Street – Crystal Lake (2 story building in rear).

Registration is requested call 815-893-0895 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information, contact me at 815.893.0895

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Northwest Herald Article October, 2015

It is that time of year again at the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation!!! The time when we celebrate and recognize the incredible companies that call McHenry County HOME! Over the last 7 years, the MCEDC has recognized over 25 primary employers at our Annual Dinner through our Business Champion Awards program. The 2015 Business Champion finalists are:

Small Category - 24 or under employees: CIDEAS, JA Nationwide, Used CNC, Inc

Medium Category – 25 to 100 employees: Black Diamond Plumbing and Mechanical, Inc., Charles Herdrich & Sons, Countryside Flower Shop, Nursery & Garden Center, CRV Electronics, Jessup Manufacturing Company, and Matrix IV.

Large Category – over 100 employees: Dean Foods, General Kinematics, Home State Bank, H.S. Crocker, and TEQ.

Larger Category – over 300 employees: Intren and Sage Products

So do not miss an opportunity to network and cheer on your favorite Business Champion Finalist at this year’s MCEDC Annual Dinner, to be held on Tuesday October 27th at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake beginning at 5:00 pm with networking. This year’s attendance is already over 300 people and climbing, to register, visit our website www.mcedc.com or call us at 815-893-0895 to reserve your seat or table. This year’s keynote speaker is Brik V. Erye who is the corporate vice president and president of Baxter’s Hospital Products business.

The MCEDC was honored to be an award winner at the Making Manufacturing Matter Award Dinner on Wednesday October 7th in Chicago. State Senator Pam Althoff and Mike Skala, McHenry County Board and Liaison to the MCEDC Board, were on hand to present the award to me on behalf of McHenry County Economic Development Corporation. The purpose of the event was to recognize the strength of the manufacturing ecosystem in the Chicagoland region. The MCEDC was recognized for our commitment to raising the awareness of the contributions of our over 500 manufacturers in McHenry County, the development of the Manufacturing Website and Manufacturing Matchmaking Events that linked companies together through one on one meetings to develop revenue, our commitment to our future workforce by taking the over 2,000 county high school students to the International Manufacturing Technology Show in 2012 and 2014 through the financial support of our manufacturing companies and for our continuous outreach and customized assistance to the manufacturing community. We are greatly honored by this award.

Another opportunity to network with fellow business leaders and enhance your business acumen occurs on Wednesday November 18th from 7:30 to 10:00 am at the MCEDC office, 620 Dakota Street Crystal Lake. As part of the MCEDC’s CEO Roundtable Workshops, this 90 minute session will unlock the SECRET of “Emotional Intelligence” and the impact EQ can have on optimizing interaction with employees, vendors, customers, strategic partners. Our presenter, Terry Radwan, founding partner at NovationHR, has 23 years of experience in Human Capital Management and consulting. Mr. Radwan will be facilitating the 90 minute session through presentations, quizzes and exercises that will develop a framework for understanding EQ and how it applies to a CEO’s business interactions and their management team. Visit www.mcedc.com or call 815-893-0895 to register for the event. Feel free to bring along the management team!

Also in November is the MCEDC Annual Meeting on the 5th beginning at 7:30 am with a continental breakfast and then promptly at 8:00 the meeting showcasing the impact of the MCEDC to McHenry County as well as the future foundation building projects such as the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. Call the office to rsvp to the Annual Meeting or visit www.mcedc.com for information on these events as well as to register to receive the BLOG updates to stay informed.

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Enhancing Excellence Series off to a great start!

“She knocked it out of the park!” That was one of many positive remarks we received from those who participated in MCEDC’s Enhancing Excellence business series inaugural event on September 15th.   Our speaker, Patricia Miller of Matrix IV, shared her thoughts on vision, direction, transformational change and personal commitment.  The next Enhancing Excellence Business Series event will be later this year.  Details to follow.

Enhancing Excellence


Don’t Delay – register today! 
We are currently accepting reservations for the premier business networking event in McHenry County - MCEDC’s Annual Dinner, October 27th, 2015 at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake.  In addition to a keynote address by Brik Eyre, Baxter US Corporate Vice President and President Hospital Products, the eighth Business Champion Awards will be presented.  Click here to register.

What’s your EQ?  As part of MCEDC’s CEO Roundtable workshops, we are offering a 90 minute Emerging Leaders session to provider actionable insights into assessing and unlocking EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE to optimize interactions with employees, vendors, customers, strategic partners and even family members. 

Bring your management team, your ‘emerging leaders’ to help build a team with high levels of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE.  The workshop presenter, Terry Radwan, has 23 years of experience in Human Capital management and consulting, and will cover:

  • Understanding EQ and how it applies to business interactions
  • How to identify the EQ aspects of any given situation
  • The mixed model of EQ, encompassing Self Awareness, Self-Management, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skills
  • EQ strategies to produce more favorable outcomes


DATE: November 18th from 7:30 to 10 am
LOCATION: MCEDC new offices - 620 Dakota Street, Crystal Lake
(2 story Mental Health Building located in the back of the building) 
Continental Breakfast Provided
No Cost, however registration is required.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

SAVE THE DATE:  MCEDC ANNUAL MEETING OF INVESTORS – Thursday, November 5th, 2015

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Fall is starting off with a bang with many opportunities for McHenry County business leaders.

MCEDC is accepting nominations for the 2015 Business Champion Awards through September 4th, 2015.   For the past eight years, MCEDC has recognized outstanding companies who have made a positive impact on McHenry County’s economy and who are exceptional primary employers. (A primary employer is defined as the one creating a product or service that is principally sold outside of a region, thereby generating new money and profits into the region. Examples include manufacturing, back-office operations or service centers, professional services, corporate headquarters, distribution facilities and research and development to name a few.)

Business Champions are typically companies with strong vision, a solid long range business strategy, as well as best practices that make them stand out among others.   They may be a corporate park neighbor, a supplier or customer that you find exceptional or you may be an employee who feels your employer provides a great work environment or goes the extra mile to help the employees.   We also welcome self-nominations from CEO's or executive team member who are proud of recent expansions, acquisition, special project or growth. An online nomination form is available on our website (Click here).

Our inaugural "Enhancing Excellence" Business Breakfast series will kick off on Tuesday, September 15th at the Crystal Lake Country Club from 7:30 to 9:30 am. Our speaker will be Patricia Miller of Matrix IV. Patricia graduated from the University of Iowa with both BBA and BA, Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management and a minor in Spanish. She received her graduate degree from the University College of London in Legal and Political Theory. Most recently, Patricia was a marketing executive with Halozyme Therapeutics (a biopharmaceutical company commercializing new products that target the extracellular matrix for diabetes, oncology, dermatology and autoimmune) responsible for marketing strategy, business development and P+L across the company's proprietary and partnered programs. Prior to Halozyme, she worked with Eli Lilly on strategic major market product launches both globally and in the United States in Neuroscience, Men's Health and Diabetes. She also served as a catalyst for organizational change at Lilly where she directed a cross functional team that developed grass roots efforts to pivotally and beneficially impact the culture and re-engage the company. Currently, Patricia is the CEO and President of Matrix IV, Inc., a design and manufacturing house.   Online Registration and payment options are available on our website. Click here.

Early Bird Sponsorship and registration opportunities for our October 27, 2015 Annual Dinner are also available on our website. Our keynote speaker is Brik Eyre, Baxter US Corporate Vice President and President Hospital Products.

Congratulations to the Cities of Harvard and Woodstock and McHenry County on being awarded the first Enterprise Zone in McHenry County. This successful effort was the result of an exceptional collaboration between the cities, the county and other regional partners, including McHenry County College, NIU, Harvard EDC and MCEDC and was strongly supported by State Senator Pamela Althoff and County Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller.

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Public Comment Welcome on CEDS!

I have been very excited about the progress of our Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy or CEDS which includes McHenry, Boone and Winnebago counties. Last week, an Open House for public comment was held in McHenry County, and this week, Boone and Winnebago counties will be holding their open houses.

These public comment sessions are designed to receive input on the strategies developed over the last few months as we pursue growth, creating jobs and strengthening our local economy.

If you were unable to attend the open house, you can still provide your thoughts through this CEDS Public Comment Link. (Click here)

A little background...A Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) lays out a regional plan for economic development. Its ultimate goal is to help our area have a stronger, more diverse regional economy. While the CEDS’ most critical function is to provide a regional economic development framework, it also serves as a required vehicle through which some federal agencies (especially the EDA) evaluate requests for grant assistance. With a CEDS plan approved by the federal government, a region is eligible to apply for federal economic development grants.

Winnebago and Boone counties created the region’s first CEDS in 2010 through a process that aligned public sector, private sector, nonprofit and community partners, as well as public input, into a plan for regional development. The CEDS has successfully aided the region in receiving the following grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration:
•A $6.1 million State of Ingenuity grant collaboration between Boone/Winnebago counties and Wisconsin counties to promote entrepreneurship and innovation programs.
•A $2.7 million public works grant to upgrade roads around Chicago Rockford International Airport.
•A $1.8 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant (through EDA and other federal agencies) to promote the region’s aerospace cluster.

While preparing for the 2015 update of the CEDS, Winnebago and Boone counties began working with McHenry County more closely on collaboration to advance the shared manufacturing industries in the wider region. As McHenry County did not have a CEDS, it was agreed that the three counties would work together on the new CEDS update.

The EDA emphasizes that the CEDS is a planning process that includes representation from the main economic interests of the region including private sector representatives, public officials, community leaders, private individuals, representatives of workforce development boards, institutions of higher education, minority and labor groups, non-profit organizations and educational institutions. A CEDS Strategy Committee is charged with leading the effort and incorporating public input along the way.

The objective is to develop a document that outlines a development strategy that will identify a list of key projects that are prioritized in line with regional assets and that will further the regional development strategy developed. These projects may, in turn, qualify for EDA grants, including those that provide capital investment funding.

This CEDS is the result of an exceptional collaboration effort between:

*Winnebago, Boone and McHenry County governments
*McHenry County Economic Development Corporation
*The Rockford Area Economic Development Council
*Growth Dimensions for Belvidere-Boone County
*Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies
*The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning - As well as many more companies, governments and agencies

To learn more about the process, you can visit the Economic Development District of Northern Illinois website - click here for link. 

Or give us a call.

MCEDC is proud to be a champion of this important economic development effort.

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Manufacturers, please take our quick 2 Minute survey on workforce

 

Today, manufacturers are creating more jobs, making more products and making them better than ever before.

In McHenry County, our manufacturers contribute over $5 Billion to the county’s economy and employees over 14,000 people.

Manufacturing continues to have the biggest multiplier effect of any industry. A single manufacturing job can lead to the creation of three to five more jobs in other industries.

In order to remain vibrant, the future workforce is key, so we would appreciate your taking a few minutes to complete this survey so we can better understand what our manufacturers are doing on their own and how we can work together to fill the workforce pipeline.

 

 

Thank you

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Contact MCEDC

P: 815-893-0895

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Click here for Contact Form