From Illinois Investment Guide 2021

Data Masters: How Illinois Grows Its I.T. Workforce

Getty Images

When Nielsen’s Global Consumer Business announced last year that it would locate its global headquarters in Chicago, the news only confirmed what many site selectors already knew. When it comes to information technology jobs, few states do it any better than Illinois.

Already the company’s largest workspace in the U.S., the LEED certified office at 200 W. Jackson Blvd. allows Nielsen to better partner with its many technology partners and retail clients based in Chicago. The location also enables Nielsen to attract and retain top talent.

“Nielsen was founded in Chicago. Arthur Nielsen revolutionized consumer measurement and data here, and becoming a separate company is an opportunity to return our headquarters back to our original home,” said David Rawlinson, CEO of Nielsen’s Global Consumer Business. “We believe that Chicago is a great place to build upon our technology lead and continue to disrupt the industry. Coupled with Chicago’s long-standing reputation for diverse talent, establishing our headquarters here will help us on our journey to define the future of e-commerce measurement and data, and build a world-class culture.”

Nielsen’s Global Consumer Business currently employs about 30,000 people in nearly 100 countries. The Chicago office employs more than 600 workers, including some of the most forward-thinking technologists who are helping to reshape the future of the industry. Nielsen plans to add at least 50 new hires over the next two years in Chicago.

“We are thrilled to welcome Nielsen’s Global Consumer Business headquarters back to Illinois, the place where it all started,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “Illinois continues to be a choice for leading companies across the world to expand and invest — and that’s in no small part thanks to the talent here that allows companies to grow and thrive. We look forward to partnering with Nielsen to ensure more Illinoisans can benefit from jobs created and their continued economic growth in our state.”

    “We are very excited and proud to leverage advanced manufacturing technology to bring high-quality, good-paying jobs back to the U.S. and Chicagoland region.” 

— Baber Abbas, CEO, viaPhoton

Illinois’ lead in talent is unquestioned. Annually, the state produces more engineering graduates than any other place in the nation. The University of Illinois is a top 10 school for engineering, and more than 12% of the population in Illinois hold a master’s degree or higher.

Illinois boasts a labor force of 6.5 million workers and the fifth largest GDP in the country. There are more than 200 higher education institutions in the state, and Illinois also boasts one of the biggest I.T. workforces in the nation.

Nielsen is far from alone in its plan to grow in Illinois. Joining Nielsen in the club of corporations investing more than $100 million into facility expansion projects in the state last year were Quality Technology Solutions, Amazon, Procter & Gamble and Harbor Freight Tools.

Smaller investments joined the fray, including viaPhoton, which committed $5 million to build a new fiber optics micro-factory in Aurora. The new facility will build and supply fiber optic solutions for data centers and 5G infrastructure across the state. The company’s investment in Illinois will help expand access to fiber connections that will enable thousands of megawatts of data center capacity to go online. It will also increase access to high-speed broadband around the state.

The new 25,000-sq.-ft. micro-factory and lab is being built at 2640 White Oak Circle in Aurora. The site was selected by the company for its proximity to highly skilled talent and its access to one of America’s fastest-growing data center markets.

“We are very excited and proud to leverage advanced manufacturing technology to bring high-quality, good-paying jobs back to the U.S. and Chicagoland region,” said Baber Abbas, CEO of viaPhoton. “viaPhoton will create domestic security of supply for fiber optics, which is a critical component in building a 21st century economy.”

The company said it plans to hire up to 230 workers over the next 3 to 5 years. Both DCEO and the workforce centers at DuPage and Kane County have assisted viaPhoton in recruiting employees and designing on-the-job training programs. 

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.


Site Selection online is a worldwide service of Conway Data, Inc. ©1983-2024, all rights reserved. Data is from many sources and not warranted to be accurate or current. To unsubscribe from our print magazine, contact Julie Clarke. For general inquiries, visit our contact page. For technical inquiries contact the Webmaster.