f you’re looking for a good example of how Illinois supports economic development, you need look no further than the announcement Gov. JB Pritzker made in Du Quoin. Joining with local leaders and partners, he announced the awarding of a new incentives package that enabled Prysmian Group to break ground on a $64 million facility expansion in cable manufacturing for the renewable energy and electric vehicle sectors.
The incentives is coming from the new Reimagining Energy and Vehicles in Illinois (REV Illinois) program that subsidizes private capital investment into EVs and renewables. The help from the state is paving the way for Prysmian to add 100,000 sq. ft. and 80 new jobs in Southern Illinois while retaining the 225 employees who currently work there.
“This expansion will produce cutting-edge, high-quality, sustainable products that not only help enhance the grid — by increasing reliability, preventing blackouts and reducing overall maintenance costs,” said Andrea Pirondini, CEO of Prysmian Group North America. “Ultimately, we will ensure we have the capacity needed, when it is needed, in order to ensure we can build an electrical grid that’s built for the future. As we work to help harden the grid across the U.S., Du Quoin will play a large role in that.”
Headquartered in Milan, Italy, Prysmian produces cables and systems for use in the energy and telecom sectors. Prysmian is the largest cable producer in the world, with 30,000 employees and $16 billion in annual sales revenue. The 140-year-old multinational firm has 28 plants in North America, 48 in Europe. 13 in Latin America, 13 in Asia-Pacific, and seven in Africa, Turkey and the Middle East.
The North American Group of Prysmian is based in Highland Heights, Kentucky, and oversees all continental manufacturing, eight distribution centers and six R&D centers. More than 6,000 associates are employed by Prysmian across North America, where the firm registers net annual sales of $6 billion.
Kristin Richards, director of the Illinois Department of Community and Economic Opportunity, said REV Illinois made the deal in Southern Illinois possible. “REV Illinois is already changing the way we do business in Illinois by providing competitive incentive packages to companies that share the state’s commitment to building a clean energy economy,” she noted. “Prysmian Group’s groundbreaking represents another positive step forward toward building up the clean energy ecosystem in Southern Illinois by creating jobs and investing in the community.”
We recently caught up with DCEO Director Kristin Richards for a more in-depth discussion of Illinois’ economic development performance and the ways in which the state supports it.
Illinois set an all-time record in 2022 by securing more than $1 billion in total capital investment from companies receiving EDGE funds. What has Illinois done to create this momentum of positive economic growth in the state?
KRISTIN RICHARDS: Illinois’ world-class infrastructure, workforce and prime location in the middle of everything have always been a draw for businesses and a foundation for the $1 billion milestone and other achievements, such as reaching $1 trillion in GDP for the first time in 2022.
In addition to our world-renowned assets, we’re making positive strides due to collaboration. The DCEO team works closely with local officials, utility companies and other important stakeholders to maximize incentives, benefits and workforce support at all levels of government in order to attract and support companies. Our team-centered approach to bringing important decision-makers together early in the site selection process is key to Illinois’ success.
Gov. Pritzker recently signed into law the implementation of a new $400 million deal-closing fund for Illinois. How will this new incentive help DCEO close deals?
KRISTIN RICHARDS: Illinois has more business attraction tools at its disposal than ever before — and businesses are taking notice. Momentum is on our side and our pipeline has grown exponentially over the past year.
The Invest in Illinois Fund is an important incentive designed to close the deal with major job creators, but it’s also beneficial because it sends a powerful message: Illinois is dedicating significant resources to business attraction and is a serious contender for large-scale projects. The Illinois General Assembly working together with Governor Pritzker to provide resources for a closing fund is a signal that leadership in this state is laser-focused on winning large capex and job creators, and providing the tools needed to do so.
The Great Lakes are the world’s largest natural supply of freshwater. How can Illinois capitalize on this asset in its economic development strategy and marketing?
KRISTIN RICHARDS: DCEO is uniquely suited to work with our region’s industry, research, innovation and entrepreneurship communities to leverage the economic potential of the blue economy. It is critically important that we not only view the Great Lakes as an asset that improves the quality of life for residents of the region, but in this age of climate change and water scarcity in so many regions of the U.S., a stabilizing force for companies that locate in Illinois. This comes down to collaboration, ensuring existing programs and resources are leveraged. For example, ensuring stakeholders are aware of available workforce program support, incentives and grant opportunities offered.
Mount Vernon has been the site of multiple project wins of late. From Continental Tire’s $129 million expansion to Manner Polymers bringing a $54 million investment to town from Texas, this small Southern Illinois city is firing on all cylinders right now. What’s happening to make the Southern Illinois region such magnet for industrial success?
KRISTIN RICHARDS: Southern Illinois is a great place to do business. A lot of that comes down to our workforce, capital investments and program investments. For Manner Polymers, we were able to secure the company location through REV Illinois, but also because DCEO has been giving economic development tools that enabled us to make investment in a new rail spur that will benefit the whole area. This is an example of a win that resulted from our economic development strategy, which is to work closely with companies and localities to tailor incentive packages to meet their needs.
Prysmian Cables in Du Quoin also announced its expansion, which was supported by REV incentives. The company has facilities across the globe under consideration for expansion, but they chose Illinois because of our incentives, infrastructure and workforce.
Many communities in Southern Illinois are undergoing energy transitions. This transition is an economic development opportunity. The state is fully committed to ensuring our world-class workforce has the tools it needs to succeed in the clean energy space. This includes investing more than $180 million in clean energy workforce and community development programs, investments in advanced manufacturing training centers, and other workforce programs.
The revitalization of the south Chicago neighborhood of Pullman has become a big success story in Chicagoland. How did this happen?
KRISTIN RICHARDS: Pullman is a great example of revitalization and how government entities can support economic development. It went from being a large brownfield to becoming a renewed manufacturing and distribution hub in an area of Chicago with historical significance in those industries. The transition has happened over many years, but one thing is certain: The city and the state collaborated closely in support of revitalization.
The Pullman success story is a great example of one of the many uses for megasites, which the state has focused on as a growth area with the recent launch of a $40 million grant program.
What makes Illinois a national leader in infrastructure?
KRISTIN RICHARDS: Rebuild Illinois — the state’s $45 billion 5-year capital investment plan — has given DCEO the ability to access resources to drive specific company needs, which would not be possible without the partnership of the Governor and the General Assembly.
An example is our $21 million in funding for the City of Decatur and Richland Community College to build a first-of-its kind research and innovation facility and training program in partnership with TCCI — an EV supplier which received the state’s first REV Illinois agreement. This kind of capital investment grows the overall ecosystem, incentivizes businesses to expand or locate in Illinois, and helps boost our workforce. It’s a win-win for companies, higher ed, communities and Illinois.
What emerging industries are poised to take off and grow exponentially in Illinois in the coming years?
KRISTIN RICHARDS: With companies reshoring, Illinois expects to see growth in advanced manufacturing, EVs and clean energy manufacturing, distribution and food processing. Given Illinois’ world-class location and infrastructure, companies that manufacture in Illinois know that they can distribute products anywhere in the world with ease. That serves as a major draw.
Illinois is also a leader in emerging tech, specifically quantum. Illinois is home to the first quantum-focused accelerator in the U.S. and two of the five new National Quantum Information Science Research Centers in the country. Illinois has invested $200 million in the quantum industry. Illinois is a world-class quantum hub; we definitely expect to see the industry grow.