NORBIC began in 1975 when a group of local business leaders formed an industrial council in response to the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) proposed service cuts and community frustration over unemployment issues. This council had an immediate and imposing presence due to a large infusion of financial support from Bankers Life.
1976: Energized by its early success getting the CTA to cancel their proposed cuts in bus services along Elston Avenue, the north River Business & Industrial Council opened its offices.
1979: NORBIC establishes itself as a 501 c (3)
1983: With a grant from the City of Chicago NORBIC creates the first industrial retention initiative in Chicago involving business owners, representatives from local colleges and city and state government.
1986: After institutionalizing the Industrial visit program, NORBIC becomes a Delegate Agency of the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development through a contract to provide services to manufacturers under the Local Industrial Retention Initiative (LIRI).
1992: NORBIC teamed with Crain’s City and State (now Illinois Issues) and Motorola to establish the annual Motorola excellence in Public Service Award honoring public servants wo make a positive impact on Chicago, Cook County or Illinois. (In 2007, this event was transferred to another organization and is now held annual by the Civic Federation)
1993: NORBIC received funding to run a Small Business Development Center and a Procurement Technical Assistance Center
1994: received funding for an International Trade Center/NAFTA Opportunity Center, expanding NORBIC’s service area beyond Chicago into 8 counties in Northeastern Illinois. NORBIC is the only place in the state that houses all of these centers under one roof.
1996: The first of two Model Industrial Corridor grants from the City of Chicago is awarded to NORBIC in to develop a 5-year strategic plan for the Addison Corridor.
2000: NORBIC receives funding for the Industrial Training Program (ITP) through the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. This grant offers manufacturing members up to a 50% reimbursement for employee training costs.
2003: As part of industry consolidation, NORBIC merged with the Northwest suburban Manufacturers Association (NSMA), expanding its presence outside the City of Chicago. NORBIC began a journey of redefining itself with the strategic vision of creating an new proactive business model to assess the needs of manufacturing clients and leverage the strength of its programs to offer comprehensive business solutions. The NORBIC board began a capital campaign to develop it’s umbrella organization – the Alliance for Illinois Manufacturing, (also a 501 c(3), with funding from S&C Electric’s foundation as well as donations from Board members. This activity created the Alliance Business Assessment Process, a proprietary business assessment which links businesses with state, federal, local and private resources creating a holistic portfolio of business services, grants , tax credits, etc.
2007: Pam McDonough was brought in to implement the Alliance business model with NORBIC. Programs and services begin to expand in to workforce development as well as the establishment of a Service Provider Program for private resources as well as a robust fundraising effort including major fundraising events.
2011: Through DCEO’s request in 2011, NORBIC and the Alliance developed a Pilot Program to connect regional manufacturers and small businesses to the federal On-the-job training (OJT) wage reimbursements for new hires. This began NORBIC’s regional focus on workforce development and has included grants with DuPage, Kane and Will Counties in additional to working with regional workforce organizations. This continues to be a key market need – responding to the “skill gap” for employers as well as a growth area for NORBIC.
2014: NORBIC was designated as a “City-wide” LIRI for manufacturing. As such NORBIC serves all manufacturers as well as working with and co-hosting events with other LIRIs