Metropolitan Chicago is one of the world's great economic centers. While the region enjoys a diverse mix of industries, it also realizes significant gains through its economic specializations. These industry clusters create high-quality jobs, spur innovation, and generate growth among numerous interconnected industries.
NEW: The first ON TO 2050 snapshot report, Regional Economy and Clusters: Building on our strengths, is available.
In 2013, CMAP developed the first in a series of "drilldown" studies, Metropolitan Chicago's Freight Cluster: A Drill-Down Report on Infrastructure, Innovation, and Workforce looks at freight as an industry "cluster" -- local groups of interdependent firms linked through their buyer-supplier relationships and need for particular resources, including labor pool and technologies.
The second report, Metropolitan Chicago's Manufacturing Cluster: A Drill-Down Report on Innovation, Workforce, and Infrastructure examines factors contributing to the strength of the manufacturing cluster in our seven-county region of northeastern Illinois.
CMAP has released The Freight-Manufacturing Nexus: Metropolitan Chicago's Built-in Advantage, which explores how the convergence of the national freight system in metropolitan Chicago offers distinct competitive advantages to this region's resurgent manufacturing cluster. The powerful "freight-manufacturing nexus" consists of three core industries: manufacturing firms, freight carriers, and logistics providers, which are responsible for transforming inputs from supply industries (including extraction and raw materials, power generation) into goods consumed by customer industries (wholesale, retail, and consumers).
The nexus report also found that communities near O'Hare and Midway International Airports have the region's strongest concentrations of combined freight-manufacturing activity. Building on this, CMAP's new O'Hare Subregional Freight-Manufacturing Drill-Down Report assesses how local conditions support the subregion's freight and manufacturing cluster and describes opportunities to ensure its continued success. The report outlines collaborative, multijurisdictional initiatives that can improve the competitiveness of the cluster, including workforce development, stormwater management, redevelopment planning, and improved truck freight routing and infrastructure.
GO TO 2040 — metropolitan Chicago's first comprehensive regional plan in more than 100 years — calls for strategic support of existing and emerging industry clusters to better compete in the national and international marketplace. The plan directs CMAP, with the support of its partners, to perform drill-down analyses into specific clusters such as freight, manufacturing, and biotech/biomed.