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Cumpata: Economic development efforts heat up this summer

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

Summer is my favorite season of the year. Personally, I love hot weather, water sports, motorcycling and anything having to do with being outside. While summer is the season of these fun activities and vacations, our McHenry County businesses have continued to work hard and to grow.  

In fact, from 2000 to 2013, the number of business establishments in McHenry County increased by 4.5 percent. The number of jobs also has increased, with the county’s total workforce reaching 175,645, and its unemployment rate has declined to 6.1 percent.  

The latest regional business statistics provided by the McHenry County Workforce Network Board shows improved indicators in industrial production and business activity.  The National Manufacturing sector index for July 2014 also shows positive growth in the Purchase Managers Index, derived from monthly indicators from private sector companies including new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, etc.

The McHenry County Economic Development Corp. and our collaborative partners have been working hard over the summer to execute on the mission of connecting business for growth. A few of MCEDC’s ongoing initiatives are: 

• Business Champion award nominations are being accepted through Aug. 31. For the seventh year, MCEDC will recognize outstanding companies that have made a positive impact on McHenry County’s economy and who are exceptional primary employers.

A primary employer is defined as the one creating a product or service that is principally sold outside of a region, thereby generating new money and profits into the region. Examples include manufacturing, back-office operations or service centers, corporate headquarters, distribution facilities and research and development, to name a few. These companies have vision, strategy, and best practices that make them stand out.

Nominations categories are based on the number of employees. There are categories for small companies with 24 or fewer employees, medium companies with 25 to 100 employees, large companies with more than 100 employees and a special category for companies with more than 300 employees. The judges are business leaders from outside of the county.  

Nomination forms are available on our website, www.mchenrycountyedc.com. 

• Workforce Development Week begins Aug. 25. The MCEDC Board of Directors has executed a resolution in support of Workforce Development Week, and McHenry County Workforce Network has planned several workshops and activities in recognition of the special week of outreach. For details or to register, visit www.mchenrycountyworkforce.com.

• The International Manufacturing Technology Show is next month. This exciting opportunity to help our manufacturing sector is back in Chicago the week of Sept. 8. Just as in 2012, the MCEDC, along with our partners Scot Forge, Charter Dura Bar, Castle Bank and the Harvard Economic Development Corp., will be providing a great opportunity to our county high school students to visit the show.

Companies that strongly believe in the development of our future workforce in manufacturing are welcome to support this endeavor. For information, call our office at 815-893-0895. 

One of the primary goals of this trip is to expose our high schools students to the need and value of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to manufacturing innovation and growth as well as to the opportunities for vocational and certification programs as career paths.  

As the regional economic development organization for McHenry County, one of our areas of focus is the development of the future workforce for manufacturing, the county’s largest economic sector contributor. To date, we have 20 buses reserved with participation from Huntley, Johnsburg, Alden-Hebron, Woodstock and Harvard and are awaiting responses from McHenry, Richmond and Marengo.

• The Annual Legislative Breakfast will be Sept. 24. This event will again be held at the Raue Center for Arts in Crystal Lake, and all of our state elected representatives have been invited. Our primary sponsor for this event is Heartland Realtor Organization. Registration is required and is available on our website.

• National Manufacturing Day is Oct. 3. This year, McHenry County will host a weeklong celebration that will include tours of manufacturing facilities, a central location for displays of products produced here in McHenry County and how that affects the world, opportunities to hear from experts and a networking event for our manufacturers up-and-coming leaders.  

• The Annual Dinner and Business Champion Awards will be Oct. 28 at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake. The networking event will include speaker from Navistar, Eric Tech, senior vice president of strategy and planning and president of global and specialty business, and the presentation of the coveted Business Champion Awards. 

As you can see, summer is definitely not a quiet time for economic development.

• Pam Cumpata is president of the McHenry County Economic Development Corp. Reach her at 815-893-0895 or pcumpata@mchenrycountyedc.com.

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