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Press Contact:  Tom Garritano (312-386-8609 or tgarritano@cmap.illinois.gov)
Program Contact:  Annie Byrne (312-386-8786 or abyrne@cmap.illinois.gov)  

MetroPulse Jobs web portal launched to connect economic and workforce professionals with data and information resources about region's leading industries

Starting with data on the freight industry, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's new on-line resource will later add data on manufacturing and biotechnology "clusters" that drive the regional economy

CHICAGO, September 17, 2012 -- Professionals in economic and workforce development have a powerful new web tool -- MetroPulse Jobs (www.metropulsechicago.org/jobs) -- to understand and make connections between employers, training resources, and data for key industry clusters that shape the regional economy.

Initially emphasizing the regional freight industry, MetroPulse Jobs will later include manufacturing (to be added in spring 2013) and biotechnology (fall 2013), each of which will be the subject of a detailed "cluster drill-down" report by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).  In July, the agency published its first such report, describing the freight cluster that directly affects more than 25 percent of the region's jobs.

"By linking data on industries, occupations, and education and training providers, MetroPulse Jobs presents a clearer view of the supply and demand for workers, helping our region become more competitive in the global marketplace," said Randy Blankenhorn, CMAP executive director.  "Given the pivotal role that freight plays in our regional economy, it is very fitting that it's the first industry cluster represented in this important new data portal."

MetroPulse Jobs presents data as interactive visualizations that are easy to navigate.  The site can help answer questions that previously required visiting multiple information sources.  For example (click to view corresponding data):

Created to promote development of the region's workforce and economy, MetroPulse Jobs expands upon CMAP's main MetroPulse site (www.metropulsechicago.org), which the agency developed in 2010 with The Chicago Community Trust to track implementation of the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan and to promote effective decision making across the region.  Among many other recommendations, the plan calls for CMAP and its partners to study key industry clusters and to make related data available publicly as a resource for the region.

Workforce development is a prime area in need of such data and analysis.  GO TO 2040 notes that a well-trained workforce is central to our region's prosperity, yet systems for training workers and linking them to employers' needs are complex and not coordinated.  The plan recommends improving data systems to measure progress, evaluate programs, and identify growth areas. In particular, it calls for better coordination between the education and workforce development systems and the needs of employers.

MetroPulse Jobs collects such data from multiple public and private sources, helping workforce developers -- including the region's community colleges, federally mandated Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), and the private sector -- to be more responsive to changing needs of employers and workers. 

"There are a wide range of organizations that provide workforce development training and services in northeastern Illinois" said Liz Jellema, research director for World Business Chicago. "MetroPulse Jobs is a great resource to help coordinate workforce development efforts and provide information to better connect potential workers within key industries to the necessary training and education."       

According to the GO TO 2040 plan, workforce development tends to be funded by diverse systems that often lack coordination.  Whether their primary missions are economic development, education, or human services, these institutions often operate independently of each other despite sharing similar goals.  The new site will help bring these varied workforce constituencies together, providing data to promote better decision making.

"Metropolitan Chicago has the country's second-largest freight cluster, so its workforce needs are broad," said Matt Maloney, CMAP deputy chief of staff.  "Freight jobs in our region are growing faster than the first and third largest clusters in New York City and Los Angeles.  With so much at stake, CMAP chose this cluster for our MetroPulse Jobs launch to address a high-priority GO TO 2040 recommendation for improved data and coordination to support development of this critical sector of our regional workforce."

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About CMAP.  The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is the comprehensive regional planning organization for the northeastern Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. By state and federal law, CMAP is responsible for producing the region's official, integrated plan for land use and transportation. The agency's innovative GO TO 2040 planning campaign develops and implements strategies to shape the region's transportation system and development patterns, while also addressing the natural environment, economic development, housing, education, human services, and other quality-of-life factors. See www.cmap.illinois.gov for more information.

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