I’d like to take a minute to thank you for your support in 2015, and provide a recap of the work we’ve done to drive growth throughout the regional economy. In 2015, we saw a substantial uptick in the volume of companies choosing to expand or relocate in the Chicago region, and these companies are continuing to note Chicago’s unique advantages.
WBC was awarded the Top Metro for Corporate Investment for the second year in a row in 2015, and tracked a record number of business expansions and corporate relocations. We’ve seen a number of companies including Motorola Solutions, Kraft-Heinz, ConAgra, Echo Logistics, Glassdoor, SC Johnson & Son, and more commit to adding jobs in the city. WBC worked with 76 companies last year, committing to 12,443 jobs in the city. We began 2016 by announcing that GE Healthcare will relocate its global headquarters from London to Chicago.
There are a number of ways we’ve worked to attract companies including collaborating closely with the city’s innovation centers, identifying and recruiting companies, building programs within Chicago’s neighborhoods, and keeping careful track of key industries that we support including advanced manufacturing, e-commerce, bio/med tech and food.
Chicago ranked #1 in foreign direct investment (FDI) in North America and 6th globally for 2014. The number of FDI projects were up in both the city and the region, a promising statistic. Nearly 30 countries were represented, highlighting the breadth of activity.
We continued to strengthen Chicago’s business relationship with China this past year, organizing Mayor Emanuel’s visit for the 26th US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. While there, our delegation met with more than 100 companies. WBC also coordinated a successful delegation visit to four Chinese cities with Deputy Mayor Steve Koch and signed a first-of-its-kind business accelerator program with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI) launched more than 100 programs, hosted more than 30 international delegations and engaged more than 60,000 people at CSCI events. We organized business meetings with leaders and delegations from Milan, Paris, Prague, Galway, Delhi, Warsaw, Shanghai, Shenyang, Lucerne, Hamburg and more.
We reached thousands of people in 2015 with unique programs focused on bringing jobs and growth to Chicago. Some examples include:
We advanced our economic priorities throughout the city and region, as highlighted above, by enhancing our relationships with local and regional government departments and other civic/community partner organizations. We also built new relationships with the business community, and recruited 18 WBC Fellows from 16 organizations. Thank you to Avison Young, Bank of America, Cohn Reznick, DeVry, Exelon, EY, Ford, Gensler, Grant Thornton, Hyatt, Joliet Jr. College, KPMG, Private Bank, U of C Booth, UL, and Zurich for loaning us their best and brightest to advance our efforts through the WBC Fellowship program.
WBC continues to expand its scope. We added employees in 2015 and created committees to build program expertise and capabilities. We also welcomed eight new board members:
We’d like to thank all of our partners throughout the region who have collaborated on programming and ideas that will bring economic growth to Chicago. We look forward to continuing our efforts with our partners to bring more economic prosperity and jobs to all of Chicago and the region in 2016.