Economy

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West Chicago’s Economy

West Chicago has long had a vibrant local economy and has been a center of regional employment for decades. With a generally strong business community, small restaurants and retailers thrive. West Chicago also has notable transportation advantages because of its truck routes and truck-to-train cargo transportation. West Chicago has a diverse employment base, too—a key strength of its economy. Diversification typically protects local economies from any shocks that affect a particular industry. So, what does all of this look like?

Growing Business in West Chicago

The city might want to work to attract additional investment into these industries to build on existing strengths and support existing clusters. Although West Chicago has just five businesses and only
20 employees who work in scientific research and development—a well-paying field, it may be good for West Chicago to attract more businesses in this field, which might support both the local economy and local households through higher-paying jobs.

Big Questions, Local Answers

We know that commercial districts just outside West Chicago pull some economic activity away from the heart of the city.

  • What can we do to best support the economy and all businesses, big and small, in West Chicago?
  • How should we be thinking about attracting new industries to the city so that we can increase business diversity and be ready to take advantage of new opportunities?

A Hub for Small Businesses

When we look at business size in West Chicago, we see that almost all businesses in West Chicago are small businesses.

Growing Business in West Chicago

The city might want to work to attract additional investment into these industries to build on existing strengths and support existing clusters. Although West Chicago has just five businesses and only
20 employees who work in scientific research and development—a well-paying field, it may be good for West Chicago to attract more businesses in this field, which might support both the local economy and local households through higher-paying jobs.

Big Questions, Local Answers

We know that commercial districts just outside West Chicago pull some economic activity away from the heart of the city.

  • What can we do to best support the economy and all businesses, big and small, in West Chicago?
  • How should we be thinking about attracting new industries to the city so that we can increase business diversity and be ready to take advantage of new opportunities?

A Hub for Small Businesses

When we look at business size in West Chicago, we see that almost all businesses in West Chicago are small businesses.

West Chicago’s Economic Hot Spots

West Chicago’s Industrial Clusters

Zooming in further on industry in West Chicago helps identify important subindustries and industry clusters, or groups of businesses located close to one another that are connected by type of business or product, suppliers, and so on. You might already know that most jobs in West Chicago are in the manufacturing industry. But did you know that within manufacturing, printing has the greatest number of businesses, and manufacturing of paper products the greatest number of employees?
Construction is also big business in West Chicago: there are more construction businesses in West Chicago than any other kind of business, including businesses that work in residential building construction and in building equipment contracting.

The strongest industry cluster in DuPage County is marketing, education, and information technology. The most prominent clusters in West Chicago are…

  • Metalworking technology
  • Biopharmaceuticals
  • Seed and plant distribution (Ball Horticultural, with 1,650 employees and many subsidiaries, is the biggest company in West Chicago!)
  • Aviation
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Logistics and wholesale
  • Retail

Thinking About the Future

So what can we do to best support the economy and all businesses, big and small, in West Chicago? And how should we be thinking about attracting new industries to the city so that we can increase business diversity and be ready to take advantage of new opportunities?

  • There is great potential to connect West Chicago’s many small businesses to local suppliers, giving an extra boost to local business.
  • Having such a large, successful company like Ball Horticultural invested in our community is a true asset. Even so, the loss of General Mills several years ago, and our more recent experiences with COVID-19, show that we need to be able to depend on a broad base of businesses in order to be prepared for any potential economic changes or fluctuations in the future.
  • Some areas of the city have low population density. There are also land constraints, which refers to how land can be used, such as determined by ownership or zoning, and how land is already used, such as forest preserves, the DuPage Airport, or industrial parks. These things limit the space in which West Chicago can grow. Because of that, increasing housing options, transportation, and other community assets could provide residents with easier access to local businesses. And by supporting Downtown through a good mix of businesses and services, with various offerings and price points, we can help the area become the enjoyable space that West Chicagoans are yearning for!