When complementary firms operate in close proximity, frequent interactions on a variety of levels prompt knowledge spillovers as workers and firms learn from one another without incurring high costs. For example, dense supply chains allow businesses to work directly with their suppliers to customize and improve the inputs required to pursue new ideas. Firms in a cluster are thus better poised to anticipate trends and to adapt their operations by implementing innovations. Cluster-oriented strategies can help spur innovative activity by leveraging existing assets to support new-to-market or new-to-firm innovations. With an educated and experienced workforce, metropolitan Chicago’s traded clusters increasingly compete by offering high value-added, customized, or made-on-demand products and services to a growing global customer base. For businesses to maintain a competitive advantage, the region must commit to investing in new innovations and partnerships that keep our economy at the forefront of such industry trends. Various stakeholders in any given cluster have the capacity to form partnerships that facilitate such idea exchange.

Action 1

Develop tools to support and foster dense, specialized networks for sourcing supplies, talent, customers, early-stage financing, ideas, services, and other business inputs.


Economic development organizations

Action 2

Lead efforts to connect regional businesses to their respective innovation systems and assist the dissemination of new technologies and processes.


CRGC or a similar entity, in partnership with local economic development organizations

Action 3

Provide technical assistance to regional businesses on implementing new advances and reaching global markets.


CRGC, economic development organizations, business associations, and chambers of commerce

Action 4

Continue to provide resources and expand support for regional cluster-oriented strategies.


Federal and state economic development agencies