A Lasting Relationship with Italian Businesses in Chicago Markets
by Amanda Clear
More than 50 Italian businesses have successfully found an extended home in Chicago. With the strong partnership that World Business Chicago offers, Italian businesses should examine the benefits of expanding their companies into the North American market through Chicago. Italy has been able to build a lasting relationship through World Business Chicago’s global-reaching program, Chicago Sister Cities International.
Since 1973, Milan has been a sister city with Chicago which has helped foster economic opportunities for Italian and Chicago businesses alike. There are over 35 Italian companies that have expanded into Chicago in just the past 10 years. This shows how relevant and strong the relationship between Italy and World Business Chicago remains. You can find a recent success story of this partnership by looking to Ferarra Pan, a confectionary maker and a subsidiary of the Ferrero Group. Ferarra Pan relocated to Chicago in 2020 and expanded its workforce from 400 to 600 employees. Additionally, they plan to construct a 500 employee distribution center in the Chicagoland area to support their growing network.
Most of the Italian companies that have expanded to Chicago are in food production, other manufacturing sectors, transportation, and retail. Of the 50+ Italian companies that share a home in Chicago, some include Armani, Autogrill, Barilla, Lavazza, Ferrero, Luxottica, Nutella, CNH Industrial, and Prada along with partnerships with the Italian Consulate, Italian Trade Agency, and the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce Midwest.
Through Chicago Sister Cities International, there are more than 50 Italian companies operating in the Chicago area while Chicago has close to 80 companies in Italy. In addition to this, Italy is Illinois’ 13th largest trading partner. This makes Italy a valued business, economic, and tourism partner of Chicago according to Kyle Schulz, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Global Strategy, World Business Chicago. Schulz expanded on this by sharing, “Chicago’s diversified economy allows Italian business to find an immediate market for any solution, service or product and with the highest venture capital return among US cities Chicago embraces innovation. With a diverse population and a committed international outlook have all been part of the great Italian – Chicago business story.”
Chicago – The Gateway for Italian Business in American
Chicago has the most diverse economy in the United States and has more than 400 major corporate headquarters–only second to New York. Because of its central location and international airport, Chicago is considered to be the shipping and transport center for North America. Capitalizing on these advantages, Chicago being ranked #1 in the United States for transportation, distribution, and logistics as well as #1 city in the U.S. for venture capital return on investment. This highlights how partnering with World Business Chicago can be a smart move for Italian companies.
World Business Chicago supports businesses starting up in Chicago in areas such as assisting companies with site selection, advancing Chicago’s tech sector, and fostering foreign direct investment. World Business Chicago has aided hundreds of foreign firms by providing extensive information on Chicago’s business advantages and economy, insight into key industries, and prides themselves on being the key resource for answering any question or supporting any needs partner, such as Italian companies, would need.
Additionally, World Business Chicago has built strong relationships that not only include Chicago’s business community, but expand across the globe to consulates, trade ministers, and other business associations. They can help connect Italian businesses to a wide range of connections in their international network to support the growth of your business.
Is COVID a no-go?
While COVID is a large concern for business owners, Mr. Schulz shared that World Business Chicago and Chicago’s businesses have adapted to the challenges that the pandemic has presented. Mr. Schulz stated “ Chicago is the first US city to have published an economic recovery plan for a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable economy that is already supporting and fueling business growth. Our technology, food production, life sciences, manufacturing, transportation industries are actively growing and expanding. The global pandemic has necessitated new innovations within these sectors creating opportunities for Italian innovations and expertise immediately.”
Additionally, Chicago has been able to leverage its location and expertise in distribution and logistics to transport products locally, nationally, and around the world more efficiently and reasonably as e-commerce has increased since COVID.
Suggestions from World Business Chicago for Broaching the Market
If you are considering entering the Chicago market, World Business Chicago recommends to connect with them first to share your business’s vision, objectives, and goals. They can support Italian businesses by providing real-time information, intelligence, and introduction to help you make the most informed decisions. World Business Chicago has experience working with small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies as well as local and international partners. Their experience and large network is a faucet that Italian companies can utilize through a relationship with World Business Chicago.
As another recommendation, Mr. Schulz suggests that Italian companies should connect and follow World Business Chicago on social media. He explained, “ We host international summits for business, economic development, tech, innovation and our sister cities – and because of the COVID-19 pandemic many of these summits are virtual. Our city’s diversity is our strength – home to hundreds of languages, business and citizens from across the globe.”
Lastly, Mr. Schulz shared that Chicago has active and proud Italian communities, organizations, businesses, families and people. “From Little Italy to the American Chamber of Commerce and other related organizations, Chicago’s Italian-American community is enthusiastic about seeing home country business thrive and grow here.” expressed Mr. Schulz.
Building a relationship with World Business Chicago is something that Italian companies have been doing since 1973 and it is still a successful avenue for Italian businesses today.