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December 6, 2013

OECD Chicago Economy Conference

By Emily Engel and Susan Longworth

On Friday September 27, 2013, The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago hosted the Summit on Regional Competiveness (Summit) with The Alliance for Regional Development (Alliance) and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. The Alliance is an economic development group working to implement recommendations contained in a 21-county, tri-state (Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin) analysis completed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

According to the OEDC report, cooperative and regionally oriented economic development offers opportunity for sustainable growth in key industries within the Chicago MSA. Please read our blog from last year to learn more about how ‘Federal Agencies Align to Support Regional Growth'.

The goal of the Summit was to demonstrate that the tri-state region can cooperate to find solutions to the challenges in the OECD report.The agenda included welcome remarks from Daniel Sullivan, Director of Research and Executive Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and a keynote address from Austan Goolsbee, the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business (link to http://www.ustream.tv/search?q=ChicagoFed). The emcee for the event was Theresa E. Mintle, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin; Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois; and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana all attended the Summit. Video from the summit is available here.

The Summit addressed the following topics:
• Matching Skills to Jobs in the Tri-State Region—to explore potential regional approaches and programs that satisfy business needs while closing the skills gap;
• Innovation in the Tri-State Region—to explore how best to enhance the region’s performance in innovation-driven business clusters;
• Transportation and Logistics in the Tri-State Region—to explore how connectivity including, air, road, port, and rail transportation can help grow the region’s future as a mega-logistics hub; and
• Increasing the Region’s Competitiveness through Green Growth—to explore environmental factors impacting economic growth and development.

Takeaways from the Summit included the following points.Panelists highlighted the need to brand the region in a manner that capitalized on regional assets like the Great Lakes and a central location. Concerns were raised about balancing municipal needs with regional ambitions. As municipalities struggle to retain and raise revenue and jobs, there is unresolved tension between collaboration and competition that is most acutely felt by local officials.The region’s significant transportation assets were mentioned frequently, along with the need to address growing congestion and manage natural resources, such as the Great Lakes and other inland waterways responsibly. Workforce development was discussed at length and strategies for engaging and training new workers were emphasized. Panelists recognized the increasingly technical nature of today’s jobs and the challenges faced by those seeking higher education.

For the full agenda, please see the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s website.

For more background information, please read the Chicago Tri-State Metropolitan Area OECD report.

Posted by Testa at December 6, 2013 2:04 PM

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