Gov.-Elect Pritzker, Lt. Gov.-Elect Stratton Announce Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee

Monday, December 3, 2018


Chicago, IL — Today, Governor-elect JB Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor-elect Juliana Stratton announced the formation and members of the transition’s Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee at 1871, the non-profit small business incubator JB founded that has created over 7,000 jobs.

The committee is the ninth of several working groups of the transition made up of subject-matter experts who will advise and guide the incoming Pritzker-Stratton administration. The Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee will be chaired by Hispanic Information Technology Executive Council President Omar Duque, Director of Research Park at the University of Illinois Laura Frerichs, Illinois Medical District CEO and Executive Director Dr. Suzet McKinney and Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter and consist of 44 members.

“Illinois’ promise and potential outweigh any challenge we face, and together, I know we can capitalize on our strengths and build a thriving economy,” said Governor-elect JB Pritzker. “It’s time to realize we can be pro-labor and pro-business, to create real prosperity by ensuring capital is available for small business owners and entrepreneurs, and to build an economy that works for everybody in every county of our great state. I’m ready to get to work. I know this committee is, too.”

“For all of the strategic advantages our state has, job growth has been too slow and economic opportunity has been shut out for far too many, but this committee will work to change that,” said Lieutenant Governor-elect Juliana Stratton. “Like a rising tide lifts all boats, our plans to create jobs must be inclusive and make Illinois work for every family. Our committee members represent the diversity of our great state and together we’re going to put forward real ideas to begin rebuilding our economy on day one in office.”

“The Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee will help shape the incoming administration’s policy on helping small businesses expand and giving them the tools to grow,”said Omar Duque, President of the Hispanic Information Technology Executive Council. “Proposals like expanding access to capital, rebuilding small business development centers, and guaranteeing truth in lending for small business borrowers will help jumpstart the Illinois economy and benefit residents and businesses across the state.”

“Our work will focus on identifying statewide opportunities that grow downstate and urban communities through innovation, small business growth, and workforce development,” said Laura Frerichs, Director of Research Park at the University of Illinois. “Illinois has a vibrant economy with technology and entrepreneurship hubs throughout the state that can generate new economic growth. JB has been a leader in supporting these initiatives and creating catalytic locations such as 1871. I look forward to working on plans with the Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee to embrace the diversity of Illinois, create job growth, and build true economic prosperity.”

“What innovation districts like the Illinois Medical District prove is that with intentional effort and leadership at the top, we can spark robust economic growth in communities that desperately need it,” said Dr. Suzet McKinney, CEO and Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District. “This committee will work together to promote our state’s strengths, lift up the economy in every region of Illinois, and build a business climate that both supports small businesses and attracts large corporations.”

“We know that creating jobs and raising wages is a top priority for Governor-elect Pritzker, and the labor movement is confident in his ability to grow our economy,” said Bob Reiter, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “We are excited to have a pro-union governor who is focused on raising the standard of living for working families across our state.”


Omar Duque co-chairs the transition’s Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee and is the president of the Hispanic Information Technology Executive Council (HITEC). HITEC is the premier global executive leadership organization of senior business and technology executives who have built outstanding careers in information technology. For the past 11 years, Duque was the President & CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC). He is passionate about technology and entrepreneurship and the role they play in building community and in creating a better world. Under his leadership IHCC developed initiatives to connect more Latinos to the innovation economy. IHCC has partnered with 1871 Chicago to develop a first-of-its-kind incubator program for Latinx tech startups. Since launching in late 2016, 39 Latinx founders have completed the program. Cohort companies have raised millions of dollars in early stage capital, secured contracts with Fortune 100 firms and gone on to notable accelerators including Techstars. He is the co-founder of the Latinx Founders Collective, an initiative to build a community of more than 100 venture-funded Latinx startups by 2020.

Laura Frerichs co-chairs the transition’s Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee and oversees the University of Illinois Research Park, entrepreneurship activities at EnterpriseWorks technology incubator, and supports the University’s economic development efforts. There are 120 companies at the Research Park in a development including 17 buildings on the University campus. EnterpriseWorks incubator clients have raised more than $1Billion in venture capital and capture 25% of the state’s SBIR/STTR federal small business awards annually. Laura helped attract large corporate centers including innovation centers for AB InBev, Abbott, Abbvie, ADM, Caterpillar, Yahoo, Synchrony, John Deere, Capital One and more. She is on the board of the Association of University Research Parks, Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, the Illinois Technology Association, and the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition. She is a member of the Chicago Economic Club, the ChicagoTech Initiative of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club in Chicago, and the ChicagoNEXT council.

Dr. Suzet M. McKinney co-chairs the transition’s Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee and is the CEO and Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District. The Illinois Medical District (IMD), a 24/7/365 environment that includes 560 acres of medical research facilities, labs, a biotech business incubator, universities, raw land development areas, four hospitals and more than 40 healthcare related facilities, is one of the largest urban medical districts in the United States. Dr. McKinney is the former Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), where she oversaw the emergency preparedness efforts for the Department and coordinated those efforts within the larger spectrum of the City of Chicago’s Public Safety activities, in addition to overseeing the Department’s Division of Women and Children’s Health. Dr. McKinney previously served as the Sr. Advisor for Public Health and Preparedness at the Tauri Group, where she provided strategic and analytical consulting services to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS), BioWatch Program. Her work at DHS included providing creative, responsive and operationally-based problem-solving for public health, emergency management and homeland security issues, specifically chemical and biological early detection systems and the implementation of those systems at the state and local levels.

Bob Reiter co-chairs the transition’s Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Committee and is the president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, the third largest central labor council of the national AFL-CIO. He previously served two terms as Secretary-Treasurer of the CFL from July 2010 to May 2018. For Bob, the labor movement has always had an influence on his life. His parents instilled the values of solidarity and social justice in Bob from a young age, and as he got older, he realized that everywhere he went and everything he did kept bringing him back to the labor movement. Bob’s appreciation for the history of labor informs his understanding of the need to reposition the labor movement in light of its history. He is a third-generation member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. Throughout his career, he has worked as a labor attorney, an organizer, a negotiator and a lobbyist. When the opportunity to run for elected office of the Chicago Federation of Labor presented itself in 2010, Bob saw this as an opportunity to bring the values that his parents taught him to a bigger stage, allowing him to affect people’s lives in a way he could not do at his local.

Richard Ashworth, President of Operations, Walgreens

Tom Balanoff, President, SEIU Local 1

Robert Blackwell, Chairman, Killerspin/EKI-Digital

Dr. Byron T. Brazier, Pastor, Apostolic Church of God

Robert Bruno, Director of Labor Education Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Melinda Bush, State Senator, Illinois General Assembly

Heidi Capozzi, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Boeing

Cristina Castro, State Senator, Illinois General Assembly

Steve Collens, CEO, Matter

John Conrad, President and CEO, Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization

Teresa Córdova, Director, Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Katie Davison, Executive Director, Innovate Springfield

Pat Dowell, Alderman, City of Chicago

Ezequiel ‘Zeke’ Flores, Founder and CEO, Flying Concessions

Dale Fowler, State Senator, Illinois General Assembly

Bishop Simon Gordon, Senior Pastor, Triedstone Church of Chicago

Will Guzzardi, State Representative, Illinois General Assembly

Mike Halpin, State Representative, Illinois General Assembly

David Hanson, President, EOA Consulting

Calvin Holmes, President, Chicago Community Loan Fund

Emeka Jackson-Hicks, Mayor, East St. Louis

Rob Karr, President and CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association

Edie Koch, Founding Partner, Southwestern Illinois Trade and Investment Council

Marie Trzupek Lynch, President and CEO, Skills for Chicagoland’s Future

Allen Mayer, Chief of Staff, Illinois Treasurer’s Office

Brad McConnell, CEO, Accion Chicago

Ron McInroy, Director, UAW Region 4

Bruce Montgomery, Co-Founder, Urban Innovation Center

Jim Nowlan, Retired Senior Fellow, University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs

Adam Pollet, Managing Director, 9 North Capital

Elliot Richardson, Founder and CEO, Small Business Advocacy Council

Dr. David Sam, President, Elgin Community College

Chris Setti, CEO, Greater Peoria Economic Development Council

Alicia Slocomb, Belleville Main Street Manager, Belleville Chamber of Commerce

Michael L. Tipsord, President and CEO, State Farm

Sam Toia, President and CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association

Arthur Turner, State Representative, Illinois General Assembly

Anna Valencia, City Clerk, City of Chicago

Betsy Ziegler, CEO, 1871

Andrea Zopp, President and CEO, World Business Chicago


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