ON TO 2050 continues CMAP’s focus on industry clusters as a framework for understanding the regional economy and organizing policies and investments to bolster broad economic growth. An industry cluster is a group of firms and related stakeholders that gain productive advantages from operating in close proximity -- such as deeper labor pools, better access to customers and suppliers, knowledge spillovers, and other economies of scale. Regional efforts can address clusters’ shared, sector-specific challenges such as the steepening competition from globalization and the accelerating pace of technological and market changes.
The makeup of our regional economy -- in particular, the industries and occupations -- has significant implications for future economic growth and opportunity. Sustaining broad prosperity depends on improving the competitiveness, productivity, and inclusiveness of regional assets in light of both anticipated and unforeseen economic shifts. As highlighted in an ON TO 2050 snapshot report (PDF), metropolitan Chicago has diverse areas of industrial strength, many of which have faced significant headwinds since 2001. A more detailed understanding of our specialized clusters can help to inform decisions on transportation, land use, economic and workforce development, and local technical assistance. Building on momentum from the private sector, CMAP’s research aims to serve as a basis for convening industry leadership and developing opportunities for high-impact, cross-cutting collaboration.