March 2024

Opinion: Why Illinois is Right for Manufacturers

Illinois High Tech Manufacturing

Crain’s Chicago Business

By: Adam Roth

The wave of new manufacturing projects in Illinois is starting to roll in. To keep this tide rising, we need to emphasize Illinois’ superior water and power capacity, coupled with its reduced climate risk – all ingredients ideal for high-tech manufacturers and other new industries.

Nationally, construction spending on manufacturing nearly tripled since 2021, from approximately $76 billion to $225 billion in 2024, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Seemingly each week, new or expanding manufacturing plants are making headlines. Nationally, Intel just received $8.5 billion in funding to build new plants. In Illinois, Rivian announced it will build the R2 SUV in Illinois, while Gotion is building a $2 billion electric vehicle battery gigafactory in Manteno to supply it. Both of the latter deals involved state incentives designed to give Illinois a competitive advantage in attracting new business, including the fast-growing EV industry.

To ensure Chicago and Illinois don’t lose out on future opportunities, we need to clearly communicate our region’s unique advantages, including:

Power: Modern manufacturing centers around artificial intelligence, automation and robotics, which all require massive amounts of power capacity and reliability. Illinois is ranked No. 3 in the nation for power grid reliability, according to U.S. News & World Report, which uses a metric that reflects the number of minutes of power outages the average customer experiences in a year, based on data from the Department of Energy.

Water: Manufacturing requires heavy use of water during production either for making products or cooling down the equipment used to manufacture them. Industrial users can find abundant access to water near the Great Lakes, which makes up 95% of the freshwater in the U.S. This water supply is also protected by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, which allows the surrounding eight states to control the lakes’ water and keep it in the region, with limited exceptions.

Climate Resilience: Manufacturing decision-makers should consider climate risk by region when selecting a location to establish a factory. Illinois won’t be directly impacted by rising sea levels and doesn’t have the same risk of catastrophic earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires. New plants cost hundreds of millions of dollars, so choosing sites unlikely to suffer a major natural disaster is critical. Illinois offers sustainable production now and an option for future in-shoring should the coasts become more vulnerable.

Chicago has a rich history as a manufacturing metropolis, and the region is now poised for companies rapidly increasing domestic production of semiconductors, EV batteries and other technology components. These manufacturing processes require the heavy use of power and water, so Illinois is the logical place to build a plant for the long term.

For more information on supply chain and logistics, reach out to:

Adam Roth
Executive Vice President – Industrial Services

About Hiffman National: 

Hiffman National is one of the US’s largest independent commercial real estate property management and advisory firms, providing institutional and private clients exceptional customized solutions for property management, facility management, advisory services, accounting, lease administration, lender services, project management, marketing, and research. The firm’s comprehensive property management platform and attentive approach to service contribute to successful life-long relationships and client satisfaction. As a nationally bestowed Top Workplace, and recognized CRE award winner, Hiffman National is headquartered in suburban Chicago, with more than 250 employees nationally and an additional six hub locations and 25 satellite offices across North America.

About NAI Hiffman:  

NAI Hiffman is one of the largest independent commercial real estate services firms in the US, with a primary focus on metropolitan Chicago, and part of the NAI Global network. We provide institutional and private leasing, property management, tenant representation, capital markets, project services, research, and marketing services for owners and occupiers of commercial real estate. To meet our clients’ growing needs outside of our exclusive NAI Hiffman territory, we launched Hiffman National, our dedicated property solutions division, which provides property management, project services, and property accounting services across the country. NAI Hiffman | Hiffman National is and award winning company headquartered in suburban Chicago, with more than 250 employees strategically located throughout North America.

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