Enhance Economic Opportunities
Integrate workforce development into our economic development strategies to foster balanced growth, revitalization, and a diverse economy to provide jobs, housing, and economic opportunities.
During 2015, trends show that Lake County’s economy continues to improve. As of November, the County’s unemployment rate is at 4.6%, which is 1% lower than it was just one year earlier. Employment data shows that Lake County’s unemployment rate continues to be below both the Chicago metropolitan average unemployment rate of 4.9% and the state’s unemployment rate of 5.1%. The most recent information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that Lake County added 8,602 jobs between September 2014 and September 2015; furthermore, in the same span, labor force participation has risen from approximately 363,630 to 369,264. This year, there were many positive partnerships, programs and events showcasing business success at the local level. With the support of investors, Lake County Partners has made great strides to build on this success and advance the organization’s objectives related to workforce development, coordination, and marketing/public outreach.
Business Retention Activity
Lake County Partners (LCP) entered into a groundbreaking partnership with the Lake County Workforce Development Department and the Workforce Investment Board to provide outreach services and ensure that existing local businesses have what they need to thrive. As a part of this effort, Lake County Partners has met with senior leadership at over 100 local businesses in the manufacturing, professional services, Bio Pharma and healthcare industries to discuss Lake County’s business climate and address specific needs. Through these conversations, our staff has been able to identify emerging trends, provide insight into the real estate market for those companies looking to locate or expand in Lake County, and facilitate connections with local stakeholders. Lake County Partners is also participating in the ongoing establishment of a “Workforce Development Ecosystem” that enables businesses to forge meaningful relationships with workforce development agencies and organizations and efficiently establish talent pipelines, internship opportunities, and training programs.
Leadership Lake County
In partnership with its economic development investors, Lake County Partners launched Leadership Lake County to attract and retain young professionals, aged 22 to 39, in Lake County. The initiative is overseen by a steering committee of young professionals from prominent businesses located throughout Lake County, and the group has been meeting over the course of this year to better understand young professionals’ role in the local economy. The steering committee conducted public outreach to advance the initiative, leading focus group discussions with young professionals and polling human resource professionals at companies throughout Lake County. In the coming months, the steering committee will aggregate the feedback and use it to identify the existing conditions and future needs of businesses in Lake County as well as the “wants” and “needs” of the young professionals inside and out of Lake County that may serve as the labor force for Lake County’s key industries. Moving forward into 2016, the steering committee will share findings with local stakeholders and use the information to shape long-term objectives for the initiative.
The Lake County Promise
The promotion of Lake County’s assets remained a key priority this past year. Lake County Partners staff managed a website, quarterly e-newsletter and five social media platforms and used the channels to communicate information of importance to businesses under the “Lake County Promise” tagline. This theme carried over into the “Big Event”—Lake County Partners’ annual meeting that was attended by 500 business leaders—where the organization unveiled its new video featuring testimonials from Lake County professionals. Planning is already underway to build on the Big Event’s success at next year’s annual meeting, to be held in early 2016.
The County continues to actively promote the Build Local, Work Local, Buy Local program to increase opportunities for local businesses and workers to benefit from Lake County government spending. The JOC program continues to be an area of strong local participation. With the current contract in place since June of 2014, 58% of all dollars have been spent with local firms; 49% of the work has been performed by local employees, and 26% of the work has been performed by minority workers. With the Court Tower construction, six bids have been awarded to local firms, and nearly twenty percent of the hours worked are by Lake County residents. Overall, 31 % of the hours worked on the job have been performed by minority workers.