There are many positive indications that our local economy is moving ahead. Last week, through the EDC’s outreach efforts with Navistar, eighteen of our manufacturers participated in a Supplier Symposium. The feedback has been extremely positive. This effort is just one of several EDC initiatives which supports and focuses on our manufacturing sector which represents 25% of our economy.
Census figures indicate that McHenry County’s manufacturing sales rose nearly 35 percent from 2002 and 2007, according to an analysis of recent U.S. economic census figures. That rate of growth was second among Chicago’s collar counties and just fourth among 13 counties in northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin. Census figures also showed that, when adjusted for size, McHenry County is one of the most industrialized in the region, ranking third among the collar counties and fourth in the northwestern Illinois-southeastern Wisconsin area.
This combined with an increasingly diversified economy , made McHenry County one of the strongest economies in the entire region going into the recession and confirms our growing economic stature and solid economy. As county board chairman Ken Koehler said recently, “This is no accident. It is the result of years of smart-growth, pro-business policies by the County and hard work by the McHenry County EDC. This is a major reason why our unemployment rate has consistently been lower than in the rest of the state and the nation.”
In December 2010, McHenry County’s non-adjusted unemployment stood at 8.4 percent, lower than the area counties of Boone (14.3), Cook (8.9), Kenosha (9.1), Lake (9.6), Racine (8.5), Will (9.0) and Winnebago (12.7). Illinois state average stood at 8.4 percent and the U.S. average at 9.1 percent.
Total manufacturing revenues went from $3.94 billion in 2002 to $5.29 billion in 2007, and the sector accounts for nearly a quarter of earnings in the county. McHenry’s growth rate was outpaced only by Boone, Will and Kendall. The next U.S. economic census will take place in 2012.
These positive results are a result of the transformation of the county’s manufacturing base and diversification of the local economy, all of which buffered McHenry County against the worst of the economic crisis.
My family has been involved in farming for years and shares the pride of our rural roots, but we need to also celebrate that we are a modern business and industrial region with global reach.
The EDC’s analysis of census data also showed that the county boasts a rate of nearly two manufacturers per 1,000 residents, fourth overall after Winnebago and DuPage counties in Illinois and Walworth County in Wisconsin. There is no question the 2010 census and the 2012 economic census will show we took a hit, but this recession has been an equal-opportunity downturn and everyone has suffered. Our employment figures show we continue to benefit from a diverse base, strong economic policies, and the entrepreneurial culture in the county.
Although the number of manufacturing employers remained constant over the last decade at just around 600, there was significant modernization and a shift in the industrial make-up of the county’s industrial base toward high-tech.
While manufacturing sales are growing much faster in McHenry than almost anywhere else in the region, the distribution of corporate earnings within the county shows an increasing diversification of the economy. Our figures show manufacturing accounted for 25 percent of earnings in the county. But among the sectors with earnings of $25 million or more in the county, administrative services, health care, wholesale trade, finance & insurance and professional services all experienced earnings growth of 25 percent or more between 2002 and 2007.
The good news is that manufacturing became more robust over the last decade thanks to a transformation toward more high-value goods and high-tech. The other good news is other sectors are catching up in the county, and our diversified economy allows us to weather tough times better than most, and grow even more in future good times.
McHenry County EDC continually works to attract new investment and to help existing businesses thrive. We believe that McHenry County is the place to be for employers of choice who seek a supportive business climate and a strong quality of life.