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DuPage County leaders gather for Regional Business Outlook

OAKBROOK TERRACE – Local business and government leaders gathered at Drury Lane Tuesday morning to participate in the fourth-annual DuPage County Regional Business Outlook event.

The event – presented by Choose DuPage, Ice Miller, LLP and Mesirow Financial – was an opportunity for members of DuPage County's business community to learn about the economic situation at the county level and learn strategies to continue growing their organizations.

Dan Cronin, chairman of the DuPage County Board, was the event's first speaker and presented the State of the County Address. He honored the county's new municipal leaders who were elected on April 9 and honored Larry Hartwig, the Village of Addison's retiring mayor, for his years of service.

"One of the reasons DuPage County is such a great place is because of the strength of its municipalities," he said.

Cronin also introduced an initiative he's started called ACT, which stands for Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency. He plans to use this program to eliminate some of the excess or redundant units of government at the county level. Currently, there are more than 400 separate taxing bodies in DuPage County.

"An evaluation confirmed what we already suspected," he said. "Consolidation is necessary."

Legislation is being created in Springfield that will give the county the authority to consolidate or eliminate excess units of government, Cronin said. Senate Bill 494, which does just this, recently passed and will advance to the House of Representatives.

"I want to demonstrate to skeptical taxpayers that government reform can be done," he said.

Also at the event were two nationally recognized economists with Mesirow Financial. Diane Swonk, chief economist and senior managing director, spoke about the nation's current financial outlook, along with opportunities and challenges as the country recovers from the recession.

Swonk's colleague, Adolfo Laurenti, spoke about the European financial crisis and what this means for American business partners.

A panel discussion also was held, featuring several business leaders with ties to DuPage County. Discussion was led by Greg Bedalov, president and CEO of Choose DuPage, and conversation revolved around what the participants anticipate as challenges for their companies in the coming years.

Participants included Chuck Allen, CEO of Crowe Horwath; Kevin Giglinto, vice president for strategy and special initiatives for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association; Chris Sears, partner with Ice Miller, LLP; and Scott Hoekman, CFO of UICO, LLC.

The program was wrapped up with a presentation from keynote speaker Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs.

Keeping with the event's theme of looking forward and acting now, Ricketts presented to the audience the plan for renovation and restoration of Wrigley Field. He spoke of the organization's goals to develop Wrigley Field as a friendly place for families and fans, to make the organization a good neighbor to the City of Chicago and people living near the ballpark and to foster strong athletic opportunities for the ball club.

"There are so may people who will benefit so much from this project," he said.

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