DeKALB – The DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation celebrated 25 years of building business during its annual State of the County address Tuesday at the Northern Illinois University Holmes Student Center.
More than 350 people gathered at the Duke Ellington Ballroom to hear about past accomplishments during the organization's 25th anniversary and get a glimpse of where manufacturing could be headed in DeKalb County and the country.
Doug Dashner, a member of the 25th anniversary committee, outlined the industrial growth that has occurred since 1987 when the public-private partnership was first started.
Membership in the organization has increased from 90 businesses to 220 with annual revenue growing from $130,000 to more than $280,000 in the 25 years. More than 40 of those original members are still in the corporation, Dashner said.
Since the organization started, there has been a 40 percent increase in the county's population and roughly $1.6 billion invested in commercial, industrial and wind-turbine projects. Industrial developments completed in the past 25 years have resulted in more than 54,000 jobs, Dashner noted.
"These accomplishments highlighted tonight are your accomplishments, too," Dashner told attendees. "We have made a difference."
Paul Borek, executive director of the DCEDC, highlighted accomplishments of the organization in the past year including the rising employment rate, which has increased annually since 2009.
Accomplishments included major expansions such as the $7 million addition to the Kishwaukee Community Hospttal and Clayco and Venture One Real Estate's purchase of 350 acres of industrial land at Park 88.
Borek also highlighted the economic boost the filming of the Dennis Quaid-Zac Efron movie "At Any Price" provided and praised the attraction of new businesses such as CVS Pharmacy and Ross Dress for Less to the area.
Hal Sirkin, senior partner with Boston Consulting Group's Chicago branch, served as the keynote speaker and applauded the work of the group for its economic achievements in manufacturing, saying unemployment would not be an issue if every county took the same approach.
He also gave members good news when he explained his research on global manufacturing shows businesses are returning from China and coming back to the U.S. – a trend known as "reshoring."
Sirkin said wages are rapidly increasing in China and the American workers are still more than twice as productive as their international counterparts. He said the manufacturing industry is reaching a tipping point where producing in China will only be 10 percent less costly compared to America as opposed to the 25 percent savings companies once realized.
That 10 percent difference, he said, is wiped away when companies consider shipping costs, infrastructure, intellectual protection and regulations.
"U.S. reacts quickly to competitive threats," he said. "It's beginning to happen with China and it will be a major trend in this decade."