Tom Hulseman grew up as one of ten siblings. It was a large family with a hectic schedule and each member quickly learned that their actions had effect on one another. They all had to communicate and work together if they expected to have a happy group around the dinner table each night.
After decades working as a businessman and, later, in economic development, Hulseman was shocked to realize that the same layers of communication and coordination that his parents instilled in him were not in place to help keep the Chicago region working as a national economic powerhouse. Now as the founding executive director of the Chicago Regional Growth Corporation (CRGC), he emphasizes collaboration that helps the region put its best foot forward to compete on a global scale.
CRGC is the new regional economic development organization that drives cooperation among public and private partners across northeastern Illinois. Hulseman said that helps the region to speak and act with one voice to generate inclusive growth and prosperity.
“We need to all be growing in the same direction to help each other,” Hulseman said. Part of that growth means putting aside competition within the region and working together instead to attract and grow new businesses and jobs.
“When all of our regional assets are pulled together as one big story," he said, "that is a compelling statement to make on the world stage.”
And for the Chicago region to thrive, Hulseman said that growth must include all residents and communities. “We’re all interconnected,” he said. “Inclusion helps drive the economy. Let’s think about how we can engage the abilities of those living in disinvested communities. They have an untapped potential to contribute to our society, and it’s right under our nose.”
Hulseman said he’s encouraged by the creation of CRGC and its first steps toward getting the Chicago region to play a larger role in economic development. They intend to expand programs that connect us with global markets, to enhance the region’s transportation and workforce systems, and to support industry clusters.
“We have an amazing, educated workforce, we have a history of infrastructure. We are at the crossroads of the country. The talent is here,” Hulseman said. “There are a lot of exciting reasons to be in the Chicago region -- today and in 2050.”