Illinois’ corporate recruitment arm gets a new head

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Seals, 50, currently is a director at the American Medical Association, where he heads both domestic and international marketing of business services. Earlier he was an official at GE Capital and T-Mobile, and deputy director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. But voters likely will remember him most from his three races for Congress in the north suburban 10th District against Mark Kirk and later Bob Dold.

In an interview, Seals said he sees his mission as that of a sort of super salesman, putting the state in the best light when it approaches companies, much like World Business Chicago does in the city.

“My job is to work to develop the message so we can go out and really get companies to come to Illinois, both domestically and internationally,” he said. Key targets are in the state’s traditional areas of strength, including agribusiness, transportation, life sciences and logistics. “I’m going to be articulating the value proposition Illinois is” for perspective job creators.

To accomplish that, Seals said he’s looking to bulk up an agency that now is very lightly staffed, with just nine or 10 workers and an annual budget of about $2 million, most of that from the state. Seals said he’d like to double that but added that the new money generally will have to come from private sources. 

“Intersect Illinois has been doing the best it can with limited resources,” he said. "My job is to work for more."

Seals will succeed Alya Adamany Woods, who has been acting CEO and COO from shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The statement said she’s “pursuing a new opportunity in the private sector.”

“I’m pleased to welcome Dan Seals as the new CEO of Intersect Illinois, where I know he will make a lasting impact on our efforts to promote economic growth for communities across our state and to rebuild from the pandemic,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Dan brings a unique combination of public and private sector experience in marketing and economic development that will be invaluable as Intersect Illinois advances its mission of aligning our government and statewide partners in efforts to market our state before the world. I want to thank Alya Woods for her years of service to Intersect and wish her well in her move to the private sector.” 

Seals certainly will have his hands full.

Originally formed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to boost the state’s lagging job-creation efforts, Intersect Illinois never grew into the type of mega-public-private partnership that Texas and some other fast-growing states have. Still, Pritzker chose to retain it despite flaps over awarding tax incentives to companies that make major investments in the state. It claims to have had great success, saying in its last annual report that it helped lure 331 companies with more than 15,000 jobs and $4.2 billion in direct investment.

But Illinois’ economic recovery from COVID has been slower than the nation’s as a whole, and for most of the last 30 or 40 years its economy has grown at a subpar rate.  That’s likely to be an issue in Pritzker’s re-election race regardless of who Republicans nominate to oppose him.

“Dan’s passion for Illinois, his deep background in government and economic development, and his capabilities as a marketing executive make him a perfect fit,’ said Loop Capital CEO Jim Reynolds, who chairs Intersect’s board.

Pritzker also announced that the group is naming downstate businessman Robert Stephan to a new slot as vice president for downstate operations, based in Alton. 

via Crain’s Chicago Business

September 9, 2021 at 08:35AM

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