OECD's Long Term Plan for Economic Growth Revealed
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce was at the Hilton Chicago on Friday, March 9 for the release of the OECD Territorial Review of Chicago Tri-State Metropolitan Region to discuss the findings and recommendations in the report, which is the 23rd OECD territorial review and the first of its kind in the United States.
Angel Gurría, Secretary-General for the OECD, began the proceedings by listing several of the positive economic trends uncovered during the study. He said the region’s economic power emanates from its strong work in manufacturing and innovation and added that the region’s human capital is an asset as young, ethnically diverse and highly educated people help propel the economy.
“One thing we’ve learned: what happens in the Chicago region affects the economy of the entire country,” Gurría said.
Gurría also outlined several challenges the Chicago Tri-State region faces over the next decade. He pointed out that Chicago’s economy lacks dynamism; the unemployment rate has been above average since 1995, which stems in part from a skills mismatch in the workforce. In addition, Chicago companies are attracting talent from outside the state while many graduates from the region leave to find employment elsewhere.
He said the region needs to boost the productivity of the workforce and act as a unified economic block in order to regain competitiveness. State lines have become too thick, and those barriers must be broken down. He also stressed that traffic congestion is a serious problem in the Chicagoland region that must be addressed.
The panel was followed by a press conference which featured Gurría, Tom Guevara of the Economic Development Administration, Mayor Emanuel, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Gurría pointed out that Chicago lags behind major U.S. and world cities in terms of economic growth, something that must change in the coming decade.
“There are a number of things that can be done in the region itself, with better coordination of the authorities, that can increase the potential of the region and put it at least at the level of the averages in the United States,” said Gurría. “As one of the richest regions in the world, the Chicago metropolitan area has all the ingredients for a vibrant economy.“
President Preckwinkle agreed that action is needed to improve economic growth and ensure the future success of the region.
“This is the kind of collaborative approach we need in order to put in place the regional economic development strategy to compete in our global economy,” said Preckwinkle. “Cook County on its own can’t compete with Beijing or London or New Delhi. The failure to implement a regional economic growth strategy would not only be short-sighted, it would jeopardize our economic future.”
Mayor Emanuel conceded that economic development has not reached the level necessary to stay competitive as a region in recent years, which is why he stressed the importance of this study.
“While we have great economic advantages and strengths, the last ten years was a lost decade for the Chicago area for economic growth and job creation,” Emanuel said. “We cannot afford two decades back to back that are lost.”
As Mayor Emanuel noted in his remarks, the findings reported in this economic study will be crucial in determining the future success of the Chicago region. The real work begins now.
Click here to read the official press release from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.