How We Lure Business to Illinois – Crain’s Op Ed

September 5, 2018

Intersect Illinois President & CEO Mark Peterson explains how we bring global business to the state in this recent Crain’s Chicago Business op ed.


When I was asked to come from New York to lead Intersect Illinois, the state’s privately funded economic development office, I wasn’t looking for a new job, but I saw something unique in Illinois that was impossible to pass up—incredible assets that economic development professionals from across the globe would envy and the opportunity to tell the state’s distinctive story with the backing of a privately funded nonprofit.

How do we sell Illinois to global companies looking for a U.S. location, and why is Illinois unique? The answer depends on the company. There are countless factors that contribute to a company’s location decision. A company looking for a manufacturing facility on a massive amount of land has very different needs than a technology or financial services company looking to be in the heart of a big city like Chicago. But the answer always comes down to the data.

One of the first things I did when I started as CEO of Intersect Illinois was begin to build our research and data resources so we can tell our story. When a company is interested in a new location, we can easily use data to tell why an Illinois location would best suit their needs. For example, we could explain that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign produces more engineers than Caltech, Stanford and MIT combined, and all within a certain radius from where they are interested in setting up operations. Or we could explain the ease of which a German company can get back and forth between Chicago and its home office, a critical decision-making factor for international companies making location decisions.


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