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updated: 5/13/2020 9:48 AM

The economic future really is bright

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  • Kevin Considine

    Kevin Considine

 

As we process the new realities of our daily lives during the current health crisis, it may seem impossible to imagine what comes next. While there are still many unknowns about the future, the very things that made Lake County a great place to live and work before COVID-19 remain and can be relied on as we work together to build a bright future.

The primary strength of the Lake County economy is its workforce. That hasn't changed. Many of us have undoubtedly been impacted by the epidemic, and while these hardships are devastating, we believe that they will be short-lived. Our highly educated, highly skilled workforce -- the scientists and machinists, welders and product managers, engineers and sales reps, chefs, accountants and so many others -- are the envy of regions all around.

We are fortunate to have committed leaders and a strong system of partners in place, which includes Lake County Partners, Lake County Workforce Development and the College of Lake County, who collaborate to nurture local talent and support local business. While graduation ceremonies might look a little different for the class of 2020, our schools, the best in Illinois, continue their tradition of graduating a new class, ready to change the world.

Lake County is deep in industries that are leading the entire country through this difficulty. Ask any economist which industries are going to come out of this stronger, and atop their list you will find life sciences, medical devices, and distribution -- all sectors in which Lake County shines. Abbott has already developed technologies that are helping to end this pandemic. Other life sciences leaders like AbbVie, Baxter, Fresenius Kabi and Horizon Therapeutics are pioneering discoveries that are saving and improving lives each day. Medical device manufacturers like Flexan, Jabil Healthcare, Flex, Sysmex, and Vyaire continue to innovate. Lake County companies have been keeping us healthy and improving our lives for decades, and their growth will continue in the years ahead.

We have all discovered the importance of supply chains and product distribution. Medline, one of the world's largest hospital supply companies and a major local employer, is building a flagship facility in Grayslake - the fifth largest distribution center in the world. Take a drive past that site on Peterson Road to get a sense of how important this opportunity will be. Among our larger employers are stalwarts like Grainger, Visual Pak, Woodland Foods and Amazon - all brands that have kept hospitals, businesses and households running even as it seemed like the world was grinding to a halt. Our location in the middle of the country, a short drive from O'Hare, and between Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis puts us in a perfect position to grow as a distribution and logistics hub.

As companies implement a multi-shoring strategy in the wake of COVID-19, and establish operations in a diverse set of locations around the world, Lake County is an attractive destination. Our workforce, deep manufacturing roots, and desirable location, along with a lot of industrial space coming out of the ground in communities like Waukegan and Grayslake, means Lake County is well positioned to capture more than our share of that growth.

On a more human scale, while we may have taken our backyards, parks and forest preserves -- all 30,000 acres of them -- for granted before, we certainly have an opportunity to appreciate them now. Being able to live, work, shop, play and get great health care while enjoying some of the shortest commutes in Chicagoland means that we get to focus on what matters most. Many people don't get that balance, but we have it here in Lake County. When we do go back to work (and we will), we might get caught back up in the hustle and bustle, but the things that make Lake County life so sweet will still be there for us. And as we set our sights on the horizon, Lake County's unending spirit of community and innovation will be there to guide the way.

•Kevin Considine is president and CEO of Lake County Partners. Contact him at kconsidine@lakecountypartners.com or (847) 597-1220.