Developed and emerging economies around the world have been transformed in recent years by new technologies, advances in freight and logistics, and evolving consumer demand. These trends and climate change will increasingly shape global commerce. Metropolitan Chicago is well-positioned not just to withstand these complex factors but to seize new opportunities due to our strengths among a range of industries and our diverse and skilled population. The region is also endowed with the preeminent North American freight hub, active and engaged civic leadership, and world-class institutions of education and research.
[GRAPHIC TO COME: An illustrated graphic will demonstrate the connections among global competition, regional economic development, and local prosperity.]
ON TO 2050 seeks to improve our region's ability to adapt in a changing global economy and to thrive by reducing economic inequality. Metropolitan Chicago needs to improve opportunities for employment and robust economic output while taking deliberate steps to ensure prosperity for all. These goals -- economic opportunity and growth -- are inextricably linked. As our prolonged slow growth continues to lag behind peer regions, lower- and moderate-income residents are leaving to seek economic opportunity elsewhere. Sustaining broad economic growth requires improving the region’s business environment to enable industries and workers alike to compete globally and prosper locally.
While healthy competition within the region has its benefits, emerging opportunities and challenges increasingly require a regional approach for economic and workforce development to capitalize on our distinctive assets. Human capital -- among the most important determinants of regional economic vitality -- transcends jurisdictional boundaries. Amid stagnant growth in the labor force, institutions of higher education and research help to retain and develop the region’s innovative talent. Business expansion depends on reaching markets around the world with goods and services that can compete successfully in the global economy.
ON TO 2050, as a whole, seeks to ensure metropolitan Chicago’s future economic success. The recommendations in this chapter address the initial steps in workforce and economic development that are necessary to achieve broad prosperity. Investments in such activities must be inclusive, prioritized, and responsive to market shifts and economic outcomes. Metropolitan Chicago’s lagging growth underscores the need to organize currently diffuse policies and programs and, when appropriate, to align local objectives with regional goals. It also accentuates the need for widespread, coordinated actions rooted in the needs of particular communities and industries. Several strategies seek to ensure that residents can access opportunity and thrive in the workforce. While these recommendations are geared toward addressing needs of the working-age population, the importance of equitable access to high quality pre-school through secondary education cannot be overstated.
This chapter describes recommendations to promote:
- Inclusive growth by broadening opportunities for innovation and promoting pathways for upward economic mobility.
- Resilience by taking a regional approach to economic development and better preparing the workforce for future economic shifts.
Prioritized investment in coordinated economic and workforce development activities.