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Trends Shaping the Economic Growth of Chicago, IL, in 2021

Chicago is uniquely positioned as the crossroads of the United States, and its economic output surpasses that of many countries. Despite some recent retrenchments forced upon the city by the Covid-19 pandemic, the city is ready to resume its financial leadership of the entire central section of the country.

Business and industry offer incredible investment opportunities, and Chicago is uniquely positioned to recapture and surpass its market share that dropped because of quarantines, business closings, and pent-up demand for products and services.

The Top 10 Trends that Are Kick Starting Chicago’s Growth

Trends that are expected to trigger a fast recovery come from all segments of the industry. Chicago is well known as a foodie town, and the demand for the full reopening of Chicago’s gourmet restaurants, regional specialties, and full-service dining options is great. As the hospitality industry returns to full occupancy, this slice of Chicago’s economic pie can serve as a microcosm of Chicago’s return to financial prominence. The top 10 trends that are triggering growth in Chicago include the following broad trends.

1. Chicago’s Housing Market

Chicago expects a return to full-scale housing, and prices edged higher for Chicago real estate in December and the entire year of 2020. Despite some people not being able to pay their mortgages, home sales increased statewide in 2020 by 9.6 percent to reach 172,394 sales.

Chicago posted similar gains, breaking new ground in median prices and total sales. Sales of homes in the Chicago metropolitan area reached 120,256 units, an increase of 8.8 percent over 2019. Chicago has become a strong seller’s market, which means prices are rising. That’s good news for the economy and high-end investors within the real estate industry.

The astonishing part of the housing market gains is that the increase happened during a pandemic. Investors can expect continued good news as the area recovers from Covid-19.

2. Hospitality Industry Expects to Surpass Sales Records

People are ready, willing and chomping at the bit to return to pre-coronavirus hospitality sales. The hospitality industry encompasses restaurants, food trucks, bars, hotels, cafeterias and other hospitality venues. Tourists are ready to resume traveling, and many Chicago residents have worked consistently throughout the pandemic and saved their money.

Restaurants are returning to full-service as quickly as practical because of the vaccine. They’ve been hesitant to travel or even meet in small groups, but you can look for that to change in a big way as restaurants return to full occupancy. Consumers in the Chicago area miss their access to top-quality food, service, and entertainment.

Recently responding to a Chicago Business Journal and CIBC survey, key panelists included Bob Frentzel, managing director of commercial banking a CIBC; Scott Gwilliam, managing director of Keystone Capital; Emily Heisley Stoeckel, chairman of the board of Heico Companies LLC; and Diane Pearse, CEO of Hickory Farms LLC. The panelists predicted that 60 percent of businesses are expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021.

3. Biochemical Industry Growth

Chicago has an impressive biochemical and life sciences industry. IBIO functions as the state trade association and represents Chicago’s strong coalition of biopharma, nutrition, and medical device industries. Recognized as a national leader in the industry, the members of IBIO have been expanding their services into therapeutics and products that generate real change.

Recent technical and economic advances have kept Chicago at the forefront of biotechnology, and Chicago scientists are part of the teams that are developing treatments and solutions to Covid-19. CBRE ranks Chicago at the top in several critical areas of development that include:

  • The top city for bioengineers and biomedical engineers
  • Ranking In the top 10 for the employment of chemists
  • Third largest life science industry
  • Second largest hospital industry by employment numbers

The city’s Pharmaceutical and Medical Manufacturing industries rank second in the United States.

4. Chicago Is the Top Metro Area for New and Expanding Corporate Headquarters

Chicago ranks at the top for areas offering expanded corporate facilities 2020 was the fifth year in a row that Chicago held the top spot. Chicago has also been honored as the top spot for corporate relocations for the past 7 years.

Chicago’s vibrant economy adds to the appeal of the city to corporate decision-makers. The city has four million employees, and it generates a gross regional product valued at more than $698 billion. The city is now home to more than 400 top corporate facilities, many of which are Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies.

5. Construction Industry

Although many central downtown construction projects were halted during the pandemic, there are multiple large-scale projects in the works. Experts predict a domino effect as construction resumes at full speed. Contractors and subcontractors are finding it relatively easy to restart projects and obtain the necessary financing.

Consultants are also finding the situation ripe for business. The markets are competitive, bursitis expected that the industry will quickly pass the tipping point as stimulus money percolates through the industry. Clients are retooling to authorize less expensive remodeling and refurbishing projects to jumpstart the construction industry.

6. Manufacturing Industry

Chicago leads the region in manufacturing food, metals, and plastics, and workers are excited to get in on the ground floor. Incubators are set up throughout the city that is focusing on incorporating top innovations in products.

Chicago’s central location makes it an ideal place for situated manufacturing plants, and local outlets for products are never far away. Demand for all types of products remains strong, and the high concentration of people ensures strong markets for sales and large pools of labor.

7. Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry in Chicago deserves its own place on the list instead of being included with life sciences. The healthcare industry contributes $95.3 billion to the economy from hospitals alone. The industry has created more than 466,000 top-tier jobs, and the city is actively engaged in consolidating hospitals to provide better service.

Entrepreneurs are working with medical professionals to develop new health apps. The continuous search for better Medicaid treatments at lower costs has become a major source of research. Another top priority is the growing digital ecosystem that has won praise for its innovations — such as Chicago’s MATTER, Healthbox, and AVIA programs that draw investors, capital, and talent.

8. Information Technology

More and more businesses are relocating to Chicago, and that creates demand for information technology services. IT has become one of the top industries in Chicago, and greater awareness of the sector is driving growth to unprecedented levels.

Chicago has a hub for digital startups called 1871, which has been ranked as the top IT business incubator worldwide. The hub works with eight universities and hosts more than 1,000 signature events. Specialized training is offered to students, which bodes well for the future of IT in the Chicago area.

9. Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

Transportation, distribution, and logistics remain in good shape because Chicago is the major transportation hub in the central part of the country. The local supply chains depend on local transportation, and Chicago offers ports, trains, buses, and air freight. Manufacturing and transportation complement each other, so it’s not a surprise that Chicago excels in both industries.

Companies like Saia LTL and Tax Airfreight are moving into large warehouses and setting up permanent logistics and supply chain support for long=term shipping and storage. Trains carry land freight cheaply, and two international airports support global shipping. Chicago sits at the heart of major highways and lakefront ports. O’Hare International Airport shipped 1.4 million tons of packages in one year.

10. Agriculture and Processed Foods

Chicago has a dynamic agricultural and processed foods industry that surprises many people. However, the State of Illinois generates $19 billion annually, and most of the crops are processed in Chicago plants. Corn comprises about 54 percent of the total crop yield, and soybeans account for 27 percent.

Many more billions of dollars are generated by agriculture-related products like farm machinery, agricultural real estate, and food processing. The state ranks first in agricultural production for its estimated $180 billion in the sales of processed foods. Most of the money is generated in Chicago processing plants.

Must-know Statistics About Chicago’s Economic Growth

Chicago is growing steadily because it offers all the tools for living a happy, well-balanced, and active life. Some of the following must-know statistics about economic growth refer to quality-of-life issues:

  1. Chicago features eight major league sports teams, and that includes two MLB teams.
  2. The city has 40 James Beard Awarded restaurants, and it hosts the James Beard Awards.
  3. Chicago has 2.71 million residents with a median household income of $57,238.
  4. The median property value is $271,600, and the average commute time is 33.5 minutes.
  5. The total domestic product in 2019 was 709,160.008 million dollars.
  6. Chicago turned around a massive unemployment problem from its highest rate to its lowest in just six years.
  7. Chicago’s current unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, which compares to a national average of 3.7 percent.
  8. The sales tax rate in Chicago is 10.3 percent, which compares to a national average of 7.3 percent.
  9. The local income tax rate is 5.0 percent.
  10. Chicago has 261 physicians per 100,000 population, which compares to an average of 210 per 100,000 people.