Business Leaders Lament State Policies

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard R. Klicki

As the world continues to struggle with recession and economic instability, the catalyst for changing the future can come from the local level, a group of experts told DuPage County business and government leaders

About 600 business and government leaders were part of the discussion at the third annual DuPage County Regional Business Outlook Wednesday at the Drury Lane Conference Center in Oakbrook Terrace. The event was sponsored by Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance, Ice Miller LLP legal counsel and Mesirow Financial.

Keynote speaker Diane Swonk, chief economist and senior managing director for Mesirow Financial, told the group that the traditional cyclical cycles that have driven the economy in the past are being disrupted by structural change. As a result, traditional economic cycles -- such as lower interest rates driving people to buy homes -- are no longer automatic. Swonk outlined a number of changes, from government deficits to high unemployment and a gap in workforce education, that have had an impact on the cycles.

But amid the negatives, she noted, as business leaders, they can help institute change.

"The outcome is inevitable, but there are places along the road that we can intervene and get onto a better path, and our future will not be doomed," Swonk said.

As an example, she noted community colleges have been working to bridge the education and skills gap by partnering with local businesses to provide education and training for a workforce that benefits both business and the economy.

"We are not an economy of the smartest people, but one of smart people applying themselves in a specific way," she said.

Benedictine University President William Carroll echoed that statement, noting the Lisle institution has enacted new programs not only to educate and train people, but to make it affordable. …