Where We Are: 2012 in Review
More than 600 companies located or expanded in the Chicago region in 2012, accounting for more than 50,000 new and retained jobs and $10.5 billion in investment across the region, all up significantly from 2011.
Chicago was ranked a top metropolitan area for direct investment in Site Selection Magazine in 2012, an honor bestowed upon the metro area each year since 1999. WBC submitted more than double the number of projects for consideration by Site Selection in 2011. This marked the most projects submitted in one year, including more WBC-assisted projects than ever before.
Many of these companies are gravitating to Chicago because of the central location and concentration of talent. A recent U.S. Census Bureau report indicated that the central city added more residents than any other downtown in the nation between 2000 and 2010. In this same time period, Loop residents with at least a bachelor’s degree increased by 36 percent.
The number of international companies with major expansions in the region increased from 50 in 2011 to 80 in 2012. These companies included ThyssenKrupp’s new North American headquarters and V.ar.vit’s new manufacturing facility in Aurora.
In 2012, there was also a surge in technology talent and development. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced more than 6,000 new jobs at tech companies including Braintree, Motorola Mobility, Nokia and Salesforce. In addition, 2012 brought the addition of 1871 to the city’s tech landscape. The 50,000-square-foot co-working center for digital startups in the Merchandise Mart serves as an epicenter for technology entrepreneurs, offering affordable workspace and access to mentors, programming, educational resources, potential investors, and a community of like-minded thinkers.
The city’s diverse talent pool was a key driver in its robust business environment in 2012. The Chicago area is home to more than 140 post-secondary educational institutions with a combined full-time enrollment of more than 650,000 students (including 65,000+ in the Loop alone). In 2012, Booth School of Business and the Kellogg School of Management both ranked among the top business schools in the world according to Financial Times and The Economist. Seventy-five percent of downtown residents have bachelor’s degrees or higher, and 36 percent have graduate degrees (more than three times the national average). Metro Chicago’s culturally diverse workforce includes 4.3 million people, and at least 35 ethnic groups have a population greater than 10,000.
In addition to a talented workforce, companies choosing Chicago cite the city’s central location and access to markets as key factors in thier decision. The city has 1,400 daily departures to more than 200 cities worldwide, and serves as a hub for six of seven Class I North American railroads, as well as six major U.S. Interstates.