Why DeKalb County?

The competitive advantages of DeKalb County are recognized by the industry. During the past three years, 19 industrial firms relocated to or expanded in DeKalb County. In 2010, the county accounted for 28% of all industrial development that occurred in the Chicago Metro Area, while representing only 1% of the region’s population. All new manufacturing buildings during this period were constructed in Sycamore. DeKalb County’s location and operational assets assure the success of corporate distribution centers and manufacturers. DeKalb County communities go out of their way to ensure that projects can be completed ahead of schedule and become productive assets for the business. All of these attributes assure that DCEDC contributes to your bottom line – period.

Further enhancing the competitive advantages of DeKalb County, is the first-ever DeKalb County Enterprise Zone. The DeKalb County Enterprise Zone was approved and certified in December 2015 and offers numerous incentives and benefits to qualifying commercial and industrial development projects. The DeKalb County Enterprise Zone is comprised of commercial and industrial space located throughout DeKalb County and within the municipalities of DeKalb, Cortland, Genoa, Sandwich, Sycamore, and Waterman. Please visit our Enterprise Zone information webpage to learn more.

Select a number below or simply scroll down to learn more about DeKalb County’s competitive advantages:

1. Location and Transportation

2. Superior Performance and Profitable Operations

3. Communities Facilitate Speed to Market

4. Dynamic Education and Research Partnerships

5. Unlimited, Cost-Effective Bandwidth Connects DeKalb County to Global Marketplace

6. DeKalb County’s Sizeable and Talented Workforce Fulfills Staffing Needs

7. Manufacturing Hub with Access to Extensive Supplier Networks

8. Culture of Innovation

9. Shovel-Ready Development Sites with Pre-Approved Incentive Policies

10. Productive Business Climate

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Located on I-88 in the center of the I-39 Corridor, DeKalb County affords congestion-free access to Metro Chicago destinations and Mid-American markets via I-55, I-57, I-80, I-90, and I-94. Convenient corporate, passenger and cargo charter flights are available through DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, only minutes away. International commercial flights through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport are within an hour’s drive. Cargo transshipment is available via intermodal facilities for all six major U.S. railroads with the region.




Target’s DeKalb Distribution Center rapidly attained top-tier performance among all of the company’s distribution centers. DeKalb’s County’s proximity to vendors and de-consolidators enables Target to generate transportation cost savings by taking advantage of backhaul opportunities. Performance and community partnerships inspired 3M to select DeKalb for five distribution center expansions, including four new buildings, during the past eight years. DeKalb serves as the main global distribution complex for five of 3M’s six business units and export operations to North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.




DeKalb County communities recognizeSKHandtools that speed is critical in the development of industrial facilities and routinely expedite review of development plans and building permits to facilitate timely construction. The 130,000 square foot SK Hand Tool headquarters and manufacturing facility in the Sycamore Prairie Business Park was completed by Krusinski Construction in only 12 weeks.


This was critical to re-initiating production after SK’s acquisition by IDEAL INDUSTRIES. 3M’s fifth DeKalb Distribution Center, a 650,000 square foot facility, was completed in Park 88 by Clayco and Venture One Real Estate in 4 months. Meeting this aggressive deadline was paramount to supporting 3M’s ongoing business acquisitions by promptly integrating new products into 3M’s global supply chain.

Watch Dave Juday, of IDEAL INDUSTRIES, explain how DeKalb County’s expedited speed to market helped SK Hand Tool build its new facility in the Sycamore Prairie Business Park in record time.




NIUNorthern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College provide boundless opportunities for education and training, as well as corporate research and development. NIU, the second largest research university in Illinois with 22,000 students, offers nationally-recognized programs including accounting, business management, engineering, and operations management and information systems. NIU routinely partners with businesses on management consulting and product development assignments and plays a major role in the development of new life sciences, medical, nanotechnology, engineering, renewable energy, and software development applications.
Kishwaukee College 02-08-2013Kishwaukee College and Waubonsee Community College provide valuable programs in pre-engineering, automated engineering technology, electronics, logistics & transportation. In addition to higher education, DeKalb High School, in the heart of DeKalbCounty, ranked in the top 10% of high schools nationwide in U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 Best High School rankings.

Watch Northern Illinois University President Dr. Doug Baker talk about how faculty, staff and student research provide intellectual property and new graduates create the human capital that help local businesses thrive in DeKalb County.



Fiber Optic NetworkNorthern Illinois University has made DeKalb County a hub of high-speed fiber-optic networks enabling the provision of virtually unlimited broadband services to companies and institutions at competitive prices. NIUNet, Northern Illinois Technology Triangle(NITT), and the DeKalb Advancement of Technology Authority (DATA)  interface with all major high-speed regional and international telecommunications networks connecting businesses and entrepreneurs to the fast-shrinking world marketplace. High-speed data connection providers include Qwest, Verizon, AT&T, Internet 2, Abovenet, Kentucky Data Link, and Frontier Communications.




IWC LogoThe DeKalb County Labor Market includes 277,662 workers residing within a 40-minute drive. DeKalb and its surrounding counties employ 96,827 in manufacturing, 19,587 in distribution, material handling, and transportation, 45,329 in management and administrative support, and 18,327 in professional, scientific or technical services. Employers can access a sizeable talent pool from Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College. The Illinois workNet Center is available to recruit, test, and screen candidates for employers. A variety of high school vocational programs are provided by the Kishwaukee Education Consortium (KEC).



Manufacturers thrive in DeKalb County in part because a world-class support system is in place to serve engineering, product development, problem-solving and testing operations. The county’s location between Chicago and Rockford affords easy access to some of the best molding, metal stamping, metal forming, forging, finishing, plating, and body panel design and fabrication operations in the Midwest. Top-notch machine shops are available throughout the region. Machine tools, cutting tools, and advanced technology are easily accessible.





DeKalb County industry plays a significant role in business innovation. Two different forms of barbed wire were invented here, making DeKalb the center for barbed wire production. DeKalb AgResearch, now Monsanto, revolutionized agriculture throughout the world with the development of hybrid seed corn. IDEAL INDUSTRIES transformed the electrical industry with the introduction of screw-on wire nut connectors. Auto Meter develops 200 new products each year to strengthen its position as the worldwide leader in racing industry performance instrumentation. Smart Motion Robotics’ SmartPacker system, pictured to the right, is the egg industry’s leading robotic packing solution.

Watch Dean Panettieri of AutoMeter Products, Inc. share his insights on how DeKalb County provides the quality, talented workforce that allows it to design more than 200 new and innovative products every year.




Cooperative and proactive communities, working in partnership with landowner developers have facilitated the development of industrial parks with shovel-ready sites in nearly every community in DeKalb County. DCEDC guides site selectors and business executives in the selection, planning, and development of industrial sites and buildings. Many communities have pre-approved incentive policies in place to assure timely review and approval of industrial projects and development agreements.

Watch Mark Goode of Venture One Real Estate affirm how DeKalb County’s pre-approved incentives and shovel-ready sites help to drive the county’s economic growth and development.




DCEDC conducted a “Voice of Industry” Business Retention Survey that quantified the outstanding DeKalb County business climate. In this survey, DeKalb County ranked above the North American average in all categories of workforce evaluation, and DeKalb County public services scored above the North American average in 10 of the 11 categories surveyed. In addition, 59% of companies surveyed reported that they planned to expand, with a 93% probability it would be in DeKalb County.