Cook County is using $ 925,000 in federal money to stimulate the COVID-19 pandemic to support companies in the southern suburbs that manufacture metals, machinery and equipment.
The county and the Southland Development Authority announced the launch on Friday of the Metals Hub, an initiative to create a network of collaboration between companies in the southern suburbs in these industries.
“We know that COVID has greatly disrupted the manufacturing industry, and Metals Hub will help companies identify new suppliers and build a more sustainable supply chain to build better,” said Cook County Board Chairman Tony Prequinkle. at a press conference announcing the effort.
The county’s money comes through the U.S. Federal Rescue Plans Act and is intended to support market research, identify new business leads and manage to set up the center, according to the county.
The launch was announced at Crestwood, Machining Systems Corp., which performs machining and metal production.
“Southland has incredible advantages in metals, machinery and equipment, and Metals Hub has already identified some solid capabilities with OEMs and members are already beginning to see returns from the network,” said Bo Kemp, chief executive of Southland’s Development Authority. said in a press release.
Preckwinkle said the creation of the Metals Hub is the result of an economic growth initiative in the southern suburbs of Cook County, the first phase of which was outlined in spring 2017 and identified the production of metals, machinery and equipment as a potential growth opportunity for the region. .
Announcing the initial study, Prequinkel said the southern suburbs were “rich in assets with people, infrastructure, business and real estate, which are crucial to the health of the regional economy.”
However, while other parts of the Cook suburbs are enjoying stronger economic growth, “parts of the southern suburbs have been struggling in recent decades as they become increasingly detached from the regional economic trajectory,” Prequinkel said in a letter in May. 2017 Economic Growth Initiative.
“This growing exclusion exacerbates the social and economic challenges facing these communities and undermines the long-term growth of the entire metro region,” she said.
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At the time, the effects of the 2009 recession were still fully felt in the southern suburbs in the form of job losses and reduced housing values, and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the local economy, I have yet to realize that.
The Growth Initiative report identifies areas such as transport, distribution and logistics, as well as the production of metals, machinery and equipment, as growth opportunities for the southern suburbs.
The report notes that employment in the manufacture of metals, machinery and equipment in the southern suburbs totaled 14,554 in 2014, an increase of 5% compared to 2004.
Overall for the Chicago subway, employment in these industries fell by 21% by 2014 compared to 2004.
However, the study notes that employment in the southern suburbs in these industries is projected to decline by 4% by 2024.
The main employers in the southern suburbs in the fields of metals, machinery and equipment include the Ford Motor Co. stamping plant. in Chicago Heights, Allied Tube and Conduit in Harvey and crane maker Mi-Jack Products in Hazel Crest, the study notes.