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Local Business

New private investment, jobs drove economy in 2019

While 2019 has not quite expired, the jury is in on how well the economy in Will County performed this past year. With more than $2 billion of new private investment, 5,800-plus new jobs created and 11.6 million square feet of industrial and commercial space built and /or occupied, the upward trajectory of our local economy continues.

In addition, 4 million square feet of new industrial space is currently under construction.

Will County today has one of the lowest unemployment rates in county history – 3.4%. With unemployment rates falling since the post-recession peak of 12.9% in January 2010, more than 60,000 new jobs have been created – more than any other Illinois county other than Cook.

More importantly these jobs have created new wealth. In 2009, wages in the county totaled $7.6 billion.

By 2018, that number had risen to $11.7 billion – an increase of 54%.

This period of robust economic expansion is the result of private and public sector leadership committed to improving the quality of life of all Will County residents. It also underscores the productivity of our workforce.

The new projects Will County saw in 2019 reflect the economic vitality of our area. One of the largest industrial projects in the Midwest began construction this year in the county. J-Power USA is building Jackson Generation, a state-of-the-art 1,200-megawatt natural gas power plant in Elwood. The more than
$1 billion facility will produce enough energy to power 12 million homes. The energy sector is alive and well in Will County.

The transportation, distribution and logistics industry played a large role with new investment and jobs. The retail giant Target signed the largest lease on a speculative industrial building in the history of the Chicago market, inking a deal on a 1.2 million-square-foot facility at the Rock Creek Logistics Center in Joliet in the shadow of the planned Houbolt Bridge at Interstate 80.

Amazon expanded their presence in the county with two new facilities: a 153,000-square-foot print-on-demand production facility in Monee, the second Amazon location in the village that will employ 400 people. Amazon also began construction of their sixth Will County Fulfillment Center in Channahon – a
1 million-square-foot building that will employ more than 500 workers.

GP Transco, which provides transportation services to clients across the United States and Canada will bring 100 jobs to Joliet when they open their new 40,000-square-foot headquarters off Interstate 80. They were recently ranked 16th in Crain’s Fast Fifty list.

Companies in the technology, manufacturing and processing sectors continued to invest in Will County as well. WeatherTech, a premier international manufacturer of automotive accessories and original equipment is expanding their production facilities and building a new global headquarters in Bolingbrook.

Quad Plus, a leading international technology systems integrator is building a new 52,000-square-foot headquarters in the Cherry Hill Business Park in New Lenox.

Avatar Corporation, a manufacturer of products for the food, drug and personal care industries expanded their campus and launched the Gateway Industrial Railroad in University Park. This rail facility provides rail transfer and storage support throughout the region.

In 2019, the Will County Center for Economic Development (CED) responded to more than 100 requests for information and/or assistance from businesses looking to stay and grow in Will County or relocate their operation here.

Information on land sites and buildings, labor force, education, taxes, regulations and transportation services provide input to companies as they make investment and job creation decisions.

The unique assets and attributes of the county and its communities make us attractive to new and expanding companies.

It also makes us a great place to work, learn, live and play. And with billions of dollars of new public infrastructure investment on the horizon, Will County is well-positioned for the future.

• John Greuling is the president and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development.

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