Saturday, Aug. 26

Governor announces Illinois has once again led the nation in new jobs created

For first time, Illinois has been nation's top monthly job creator twice in one year

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[AUG. 26, 2006]  CHICAGO -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced Thursday that Illinois added more new jobs than any other state in July. Illinois led the nation in monthly job growth by creating 29,800 new jobs in July. This is the second time this year Illinois has created more new jobs than any other state, which has never happened before in recorded history. Illinois also led the nation in job growth in April. The total number of new jobs created this year is almost 70,000, which is the best start to a year since 1998 and more new jobs than in all other Midwestern states combined.

The Illinois unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in July, falling lower than the national rate, which is 4.8 percent, for the second consecutive month. This is the first time this has happened in more than seven years. The Chicago area also reported its lowest unemployment rate for July since 1998.

These statistics were compiled by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has posted its July data at

Since January 2004, Illinois has gained 144,300 new jobs, which is almost 60,000 more new jobs than the next highest Midwest state. Over the last few months, Illinois has seen a number of companies commit to adding more new jobs across the state, including Schneider National in Edwardsville, UPM Raflatac in Dixon, Triumph Foods in East Moline and Equinix in Elk Grove Village. United Airlines, which employs almost 16,000 people in the state, recently announced it is keeping its corporate headquarters in Illinois. Site Selection Magazine named the Chicago area the top metro region in 2005 for attracting new and expanded corporate facilities. Illinois was ranked third in the nation in this category.

"By bringing in new companies, making strategic investments to help small businesses grow and taking innovative steps to open new markets, Illinois is offering more people better jobs," Blagojevich said. "Creating more new jobs again than any other state last month is a clear indication that our approach is working. By not raising income or sales taxes and by investing more in our schools, health care and our communities, we've made Illinois an even better place to work in and live in. This is good for both our businesses and our families."

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has recently provided business investment packages to several companies across the state. They will be creating even more new jobs, including 440 jobs at Schneider National in Edwardsville, up to 160 jobs at UPM Raflatac in Dixon, 1,000 jobs at Triumph Foods in East Moline and 30 jobs at Equinix in Elk Grove Village.

One of the most important ways the governor has been expanding the Illinois economy and creating more good jobs is by encouraging entrepreneurship. On Thursday, the governor announced almost $1 million in new funding to support three of the Chicago area entrepreneurship centers that he helped launched over the last 3 1/2 years through the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network. The centers act as regional hubs that coordinate all small-business development, entrepreneurship and technology training activity, providing entrepreneurs with the tools they need to make their ventures successful.

The Chicago West Side Entrepreneurship Center at Chicago Community Ventures was established in July 2003 and has served more than 900 clients to date and awarded almost $310,000 to 57 companies. The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce was established in July 2004 and has served more than 250 clients to date and awarded $290,000 to 54 companies. The Illinois Hispanic Entrepreneurship Center at the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was established in June 2005 and has served more than 45 clients and provided $100,000 to 19 companies to date.

Blagojevich made the announcement Thursday at Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels Inc. on Chicago's West Side. The 60-employee company is a growing, high-end producer of pretzels marketed and sold as both snacks and meal replacement. The company has worked closely with the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center on expanding its retail strategy and manufacturing capabilities. It has created 10 to 15 new jobs in the past year and expects to create almost 20 new jobs over the next year.

Over the past 3 1/2 years, Blagojevich has invested more than $47 million through the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network to help small companies generate almost $2.2 billion in government contracts and international sales and secure almost $429 million in financing. The network has provided counseling and training to more than 152,000 clients across the state.

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"There is no doubt that our economy is in much better shape today than it was a couple of years ago," said state Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago. "The reason why companies are expanding and putting more people to work is because Governor Blagojevich has created a business climate that is encouraging investment and innovation."

"In order for us to compete on the global stage, we must encourage our entrepreneurs and provide the resources necessary to help them create better companies and better jobs," said state Rep. Annazette Collins, D-Chicago. "Governor Blagojevich has consistently done that, which is why Illinois' economy is moving in the right direction."

Through the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network, Blagojevich is providing, for the first time, a formalized structure for coordinating services to small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the state. Further, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has a truly statewide network, where the resources in one area, such as venture capital in the Chicago area, can be coordinated to the benefit of network partners throughout the state.

The Illinois Entrepreneurship Network is made up of the following partners: 18 Entrepreneurship Centers, Small Business Development Centers, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, International Trade Centers and other partners. The network's website,, features a free business needs assessment and a referral within 24 hours for personalized, face-to-face assistance. Entrepreneurs who call toll-free to the network's information center, 1-800-252-2923, can also connect with service representatives who will assess their business concerns and direct them to the local resources that best meets their needs.

"Small businesses are the backbone of Illinois' economy, and Governor Blagojevich has been making the investments that are supporting our emerging entrepreneurs so they can turn promising ideas into promising companies and create good, new jobs," said Jack Lavin, director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Many other economic indicators illustrate that the Illinois economy is expanding:

In 2005, travel to Illinois directly accounted for more than 300,000 Illinois jobs, including more than 400 new jobs in 2005, which generated nearly $7.9 billion in payroll. Economic impact generated by travel spending in 2005 in Illinois grew to a record $26.2 billion, an increase of 6.8 percent, generating $1.84 billion in state and local tax revenue, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. This added an additional $74.2 million in state and local taxes in 2005.

Illinois' annual export figures showed significant growth in 2005, marking the third consecutive year of increased exports and the greatest one-year increase in more than 10 years. Illinois companies exported a record $35.8 billion in 2005, up 18.7 percent from the previous year according to the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research, which compiles its data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division. Illinois' total exports for 2005 represented a $5.6 billion increase from 2004, one of the largest increases by any state and the largest percent increase among the states in the top eight.

Business Facilities Magazine ranked Illinois the top state in the nation for biotechnology growth in 2005. Illinois is already home to nearly 60,000 employees at more than 1,100 biotech firms. Blagojevich has helped leading biotech companies move to or grow in Illinois. He has partnered with Astellas Pharma, Hospira and Takeda Pharmaceuticals to expand or relocate their corporate headquarters, which is expected to create and retain more than 1,300 jobs.

[News release]

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