President and CEO of Choose DuPage, Greg Bedalov, leads the economic development efforts in DuPage County. Choose DuPage was founded in 2005 to expand and diversify the DuPage County economy through business development and job growth. Before joining Choose DuPage, Bedalov gained local economic development experience as the President of the Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation. Bedalov sits on numerous development boards and committees. Naperville Magazine recently caught up with Bedalov to talk about his role with Choose DuPage and to get an economic snapshot of DuPage County.
Last year, you were hired as president of Choose DuPage. What are your primary duties as president and what are your short-term goals?
My primary duty is leading Choose DuPage in our efforts to support business retention, business expansion and business attraction efforts in DuPage County. We also are working very aggressively on marketing initiatives to showcase DuPage County as a premiere global business destination. Lastly, we are working very closely with our municipal economic development partners to support their economic development needs within their respective communities.
This is a very competitive business environment and it still remains a challenging economy. Every county is trying to attract new employers and create new jobs. How has this changed the mission of Choose DuPage?
The economic development landscape is always changing. It’s true that it is currently a very challenging economy and market. Choose DuPage recognizes that and has always worked diligently to effectively market the unique attributes of the County from a location, education, workforce and infrastructure standpoint to name a few (attributes). We do our best to identify barriers to entry and address them. We collaborate with site selectors, brokers and business owners in an effort to assure that the benefits of DuPage County are being clearly communicated. I don’t think our mission has changed much. I do think that the rate of change within the business community has increased and we have to be ready for that.
With nearly one million residents, DuPage County is the second most populous county in the state of Illinois. What makes DuPage County unique and why should businesses choose DuPage County?
Choose DuPage has used the slogan “it’s all here” since its inception. We truly feel that it is all here for business. DuPage County offers a highly skilled workforce, a great location, a comparatively favorable tax environment, sound infrastructure, responsible government, a comprehensive transportation network, great schools and parks. We talk to businesses every day and we typically hear one or more of these items as a reason that they are located in DuPage County. But in addition to that it seems like we always hear, “quality of life.” DuPage County simply offers the very best living opportunity for its residents from a quality of life perspective. Businesses recognize that and know that their employees appreciate it. We consider ourselves the heartbeat of the Midwest. Combining what businesses need with what families want is perhaps our most unique attribute as a county.
From your perspective, what is the biggest challenge facing DuPage County in terms of new growth and development?
That’s an easy one. Business mobility – the planet is getting smaller, businesses are more agile than ever before and competition is fierce not only in the region and the state, but throughout the nation and the world. Technology is changing at light speed. DuPage County and Choose DuPage must compete, market, and promote smarter and harder than ever before, using tools that we have not previously utilized not only to attract new businesses to DuPage County, but to maintain our strong existing business community. I have always maintained that all things being equal, or at least close to equal, an existing customer – and DuPage County businesses are Choose DuPage customers – is much more valuable than a new one because of the cost associated in getting that new one. That’s why we hate losing good businesses in DuPage County. Don’t get me wrong, we work very hard to attract new businesses but we have to work even harder to retain businesses and help them grow.
As a community leader and business advocate, what is your proudest accomplishment?
My position gives me the opportunity to work and interface with a lot of people across a multitude of disciplines. Nothing is more rewarding than working with youth at the elementary and high school levels to help them understand just a little bit more about how important a sound economy is to their futures and how they can help impact their future through community service.
You and your family live in DuPage County. When you’re not busy promoting DuPage County to business and industry leaders, what are some of your favorite things to do in the area?
My family and I have been in DuPage County for just about 20 years now. With one child in college, one in high school and one in middle school, a lot of time is taken up with the activities that go along with parenthood. I really enjoyed coaching my kids and being involved in programs with them over the years. In terms of favorites in the area, there is never a shortage of great restaurants and entertainment options in DuPage County.Photo by Mike Hudson