DeKalb County’s operational assets ensure the success of manufacturers and distributors by contributing to the bottom line – period. The top 10 competitive advantages of DeKalb County are:
1. Location and Transportation – Located on I-88 in the center of the I-39 Corridor, DeKalb County affords congestion-free access to Metro Chicago destinations and Mid-American markets. Convenient corporate passenger and cargo charter flights are available through DeKalb Municipal Airport, only minutes away. International commercial flights through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport are within an hour’s drive. Cargo trans-shipment is available via intermodal facilities for all six major U.S. railroads.
2. Superior Performance / Profitable Operations – Target’s DeKalb Distribution Center rapidly attained top-tier performance among the company’s distribution centers. Proximity to vendors and de-consolidators enables Target to generate cost savings by taking advantage of backhaul opportunities. Performance and community partnerships inspired 3M to select DeKalb for five distribution center expansions, including four new buildings. DeKalb serves as the main distribution complex for 3M domestic and export operations.
3. Speed to Market – DeKalb County communities go out of their way to ensure that projects can be completed ahead of schedule and become productive assets for business. The SK Hand Tool headquarters and manufacturing facility in the Sycamore Prairie Business Park was completed by Krusinski Construction in only 12 weeks. 3M’s fifth DeKalb Distribution Center was completed in Park 88 by Clayco and Venture One Real Estate in four months.
4. Dynamic Education and Research Partnerships – Northern Illinois University, the second largest research university in Illinois with 22,000 students, offers nationally recognized programs including accounting, business management, engineering, operations management and information technology. NIU routinely partners with businesses on management consulting and product development assignments. Kishwaukee College provides valuable programs in engineering, automated engineering technology and diesel technology.
5. Unlimited, Cost-Effective Broadband – NIU has made DeKalb County a hub of high-speed fiber optic networks facilitating virtually unlimited broadband services to companies and institutions at competitive prices. Networks such as the DeKalb Advancement of Technology Authority interface with all regional and international telecommunications networks connecting with the fast-shrinking world marketplace.
6. Sizeable Talented Workforce – The DeKalb County labor market includes 277,662 workers residing within a 40-minute drive. Employers can access a sizeable talent pool from NIU and Kishwaukee College, and the Kishwaukee Education Consortium provides a variety of high school vocational programs.
7. Manufacturing Hub – Manufacturers thrive in DeKalb County in part because a world class supplier network is in place to serve engineering, product development, problem-solving and testing operations. Some of the best molding, metal stamping, metal forming, forging, finishing, plating and body panel design and fabrication operations in the Midwest are within easy access. Top-notch machine shops provide machine tools, cutting tools and advanced technology.
8. Culture of Innovation – Barbed wire was invented here and DeKalb AgResearch revolutionized agriculture throughout the world with the development of hybrid seed corn. Ideal Industries transformed the electrical industry with the introduction of screw-on wire nut connectors. Auto Meter, worldwide leader in racing industry performance instrumentation, develops 200 new products each year. Smart Motion Robotics provides the egg industry’s leading robotic packing solution.
9. Shovel-Ready Sites – Proactive developers have established industrial parks with construction-ready sites in nearly every community in the county. DeKalb County Economic Development Corp. guides site selectors and business executives in the selection, planning and development of industrial sites and buildings.
10. Productive Business Climate – DCEDC’s “Voice of Industry” survey quantified the county’s outstanding business climate. In this survey, DeKalb County ranked above the North American average in all categories of workforce evaluation, and public services scored above average in 10 of the 11 categories surveyed. In addition, 59 percent of companies surveyed reported that they planned to expand with a 93 percent probability it would be in DeKalb County.
• Paul Borek is executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp.