In July 2014, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) released its strategic economic development plan, as called for by Public Act 98-0397. The statute requires the plan to be updated annually and redeveloped fully every five years. DCEO is directed to identify and engage numerous stakeholders in the plan's development, including businesses, academia, local government, and economic development practitioners.
The plan outlines seven initiatives to be implemented by leveraging or reorienting current programs, creating new programs, encouraging multi-jurisdictional or regional collaboration, and focusing on high-potential industry clusters. They include:
- Strengthen the State's ongoing business attraction, retention, and support initiatives.
- Promote economic development on a regional level.
- Develop an increasingly competitive workforce.
- Increase fairness and opportunity.
- Make Illinois a top destination for entrepreneurs.
- Implement a comprehensive, statewide strategy to drive innovation.
- Modernize and revitalize our infrastructure.
CMAP will monitor the plan's implementation because of its effect on businesses and residents in northeastern Illinois. The seven-county metropolitan Chicago region is among the nation's few global economic centers, and GO TO 2040 seeks to maintain and strengthen this position by growing a skilled workforce and fostering a climate in which commercial creativity can flourish.
The CMAP report, Reorienting State and Regional Economic Development: Lessons Learned from National Examples, examines current challenges and opportunities in economic development policy and practices using a scan of national practices, including in the realm of strategic planning. Some of DCEO's proposals echo these national examples. For instance, other states have implemented planning for economic development at the regional level. In the State of New York, regions engage in strategic planning exercises with the goal of using regional expertise to determine how to prioritize compartmentalized policies and programs. State government there has used these regional results to identify significant projects that will maximize returns on investments and target limited funding across multiple program areas. CMAP's study also found that other regions have fostered economic growth by targeting industry clusters. In metropolitan Denver, an analysis of key industry clusters has helped the region to target its economic development efforts.
CMAP is currently examining economic development policies in metropolitan Chicago and the State of Illinois for the second phase of its research. The next report, to be released this winter, will analyze opportunities and challenges for the state and region to reorient economic development activities to be more strategic, coordinated, accountable, and outward-facing.