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From Intersect Insight, the Quarterly newsletter highlighting Illinois economic development news. 

Intersect Illinois recently launched a new tool aimed at speeding up and simplifying the process of attracting job growth throughout the state. Our new real estate database and proposal management system, hosted on our website, provides immediate access to in-­‐depth information that previously took weeks to research. Now, data including dynamic demographic and industry breakdowns are available free and instantly, along with a database of available properties.

Research indicates that more than 97% of initial site selection screening is done online, and the new website tool provides immediate access to critical business intelligence that decision makers need to make investment decisions. The site reduces research time from weeks to minutes.

The tool goes far beyond a simple database of available sites and buildings. It also provides dynamic mapping capabilities including the ability view geographic “layers” of information such as incubators, foreign trade zones, railroads, fiber coverage, electric coverage and incentives such as opportunity zones. Corresponding demographic reports such as labor force, education levels, consumer spending, and age can be created. In addition, businesses are mapped by industry showing their distribution and concentrations throughout the area.

There are a few reasons that Intersect invested in this new tool:

PROCESS – Companies that are considering relocating want to know the characteristics of the local population, what other businesses are in the community, and the geographic advantages of locating in a specific place. Our new database answers all these questions in minutes using the latest technology, then points them to our staff to continue the conversation, simplifying the site selection process.

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE – Economic development is a competitive field. With most of businesses’ site location happening on the internet, economic development organizations without effective web presence get bypassed without even knowing it. Our new real estate database gives Illinois a competitive advantage and keeps us on the list of locations where businesses want to invest. We now provide a sophisticated approach to promoting Illinois.

FULFILLING THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MISSION – One of Intersect’s purposes is to provide a unified approach to economic development. The new database is a valuable tool that all of our partners throughout the state can utilize. The tool will help our partners attract new businesses, facilitate investment, create jobs, and highlight that Illinois is an easy place to do business. The real estate database strengthens our ability to connect our community with companies, delivering good jobs and economic opportunity for residents.

MARKETING – The new real estate database tool has a tremendous reach and markets Illinois’ assets including the quality of our labor force, infrastructure investments, business environment, and the multitude of reasons why the state is great location for economic growth.

MARKET DEMAND – Site selectors’ first stop is the internet and they are looking for more than a listing of available properties. We can now provide the in-depth details and extensive demographic, competitive and mapping information customized for their needs. It signals to companies and site selectors around the country that Illinois wants their business and is effective and efficient in providing information.

We’ve been partnering with communities across the state to continuously update available sites (please let us know if you have sites that are not included), and each month we highlight a different category of sites as “featured properties.” This month, we feature Illinois Super Sites and mega sites.

Illinois Super Sites have undergone a rigorous pre-qualification process to assure the sites fit specific criteria commonly required for very large industrial projects. They must be a minimum of 250 acres (with a minimum of 80% developable), and meet requirements for zoning, distance to interstate or highways, utilities (electric, water, wastewater, natural gas and telecommunications), and proximity to rail lines. Mega sites are not defined by any national standard, but generally encompass 1,000 or more acres. Although not all mega sites are also certified, many of them fulfill certain prerequisites such as environment assessments, soil testing, permitting, and the installation of necessary infrastructure.

Later this month, we will highlight data centers. The Chicago area is 3rd largest data center market in the U.S. (with 245MW of electricity capacity) and a major internet hub. Illinois provides high-end connectivity, low electricity cost and few environmental risks for potential data centers. Additionally, the State of Illinois recently passed legislation to create tax incentives for Illinois’ data center industry. This is one more signal to companies throughout the world that Illinois is open for business and an ideal location for data centers. By featuring data centers on our online database, we help paint the picture of the vast landscape of potential sites throughout the state.

Properties from mega sites, to data centers are important to our economic development efforts. By highlighting them on our real estate database and mapping tool, companies can visualize the tremendous opportunities that Illinois provides.

We hope you find this tool useful and, as always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions.