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Regional Economic Development Effort Could Boost Chicago Profile, Curb Corporate Poaching

A new economic development partnership between the seven counties of northeastern Illinois stands to produce better regional growth while discouraging a longstanding flow of corporate HQs to the city from its suburbs, the partnership's organizers say.

Elected officials from the region on Wednesday announced the Greater Chicago Economic Partnership between the city of Chicago and the seven regional counties: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will. The partnership will be managed by World Business Chicago, working with a budget of $3M over the initial three-year pilot timeline, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

A new regional economic development partnership could curb corporate relocations from the suburbs into the city, such as McDonald's 2018 move from Oak Brook to 110 North Carpenter St.

The goals for the partnership include generating 150 pro-Chicago decisions and finding 500 new investment opportunities that benefit the metro area, along with creating a regional pitch book and adding suburban activity to World Business Chicago’s work, Crain’s reports.

“Today’s announcement of the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership will not only move the Chicagoland region forward but become its distinctive competitive advantage, helping existing firms expand in the region and attract new corporations,” Michael Fassnacht, president and CEO of World Business Chicago and chief marketing officer for the city of Chicago, said in a statement on the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s website. “The region’s future is bright.”

The partnership has the potential to stop the poaching of corporate headquarters between the city and suburbs, the Chicago Tribune reports, citing the city’s recent history of luring companies like Motorola, Kraft Heinz and McDonald’s from their suburban locations to the city.

“The old days of poaching one company from one to another, just like moving it 1 mile, we realized, is a negative game," Fassnacht told the Tribune. "It doesn’t help the region."

A product of the city's 2021 recovery task force report, the Chicago Metro Agency for Planning set the groundwork for the partnership starting in 2020, working with The Brookings Institution to research a plan for regional economic recovery, with grant support from The Chicago Community Trust.

Regional partnerships have come and gone, according to the Tribune, citing the Chicago Regional Growth Corp., which kicked off with similar partners in 2017 and came to naught.

Fassnacht told the paper he was confident this partnership had the "right structural setup."