Strategic Planning for Chicago Sustainable Industries (CSI) Initiative

City of Chicago, IL

The goal of the City’s CSI initiative is the creation of a strategic action plan to enhance Chicago’s industrial future and foster economic development. The CSI effort recognizes that manufacturing is a “bedrock” activity in Chicago that provides significant numbers of high-quality job opportunities, and supports many layers of spinoff activity throughout the City and region. In 2011, the City of Chicago engaged a team led by SB Friedman to conduct a comprehensive assessment of industrial strategy within the following areas:

  • Identifying the institutions and functions necessary to manage the City’s industrial corridors as modern industrial parks, and identifying gaps in the current corridor management system.
  • Developing fact-based marketing concepts to promote manufacturing as a viable and desirable career pathway for students, educators and parents, as well as displaced workers.
  • Assessing the impact of state and local regulations and taxes on manufacturers, and recommending appropriate changes to enhance Chicago’s competitiveness for manufacturing investment.
  • Identifying gaps in the current workforce development system, evaluating other workforce development models nationally, and recommending changes to provide a pipeline of workers with the skills and qualifications that Chicago needs to compete globally in manufacturing.

The strategic planning process included:

  • Research on industrial property management models in three other cities (New York, Milwaukee and Los Angeles) and comparison with the industrial corridor management model in Chicago.
  • Development of a fact base, and crafting of a marketing message to students and job seekers that promotes manufacturing as a promising future, describes its rewarding career opportunities, and highlights that Chicago remains as an epicenter of manufacturing in the country. 
  • Crafting of a marketing message to job seekers and decision influencers that details the benefits of manufacturing to the economy, and its contribution to innovation and to its workers.
  • Analysis of state and local taxes, and licensing and inspection requirements that impact manufacturers in Chicago compared to other locations in the region and nation.
  • Analysis of future labor needs for key manufacturing occupations, interviews with key workforce development providers in Chicago, and research on existing, national best practice models.

Results: SB Friedman provided City staff with final deliverables in April 2012. The City has compiled a final report titled “Chicago Sustainable Industries: A Business Plan for Manufacturing” that draws from our research and analysis. The report has been submitted for Plan Commission approval in October 2013.