In 2011, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and then Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel appointed a joint committee to evaluate the impact of combining City and County resources. The committee’s efforts resulted in a report which suggested 19 areas of collaboration—among them was workforce development. In this area each governmental body provided similar, yet disparate services under the auspices of the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
Despite geographic proximity, each administration maintained separate policies and initiatives with formal business engagement generally managed by delegate agencies. The Chicago Workforce Investment Council (CWIC), a non-profit workforce policy organization also provided direction and programming in this arena. By working together, without regard to geographic boundaries, both Cook County and the City of Chicago would broaden the reach of workforce services for employers and job seekers alike. With three primary goals in mind— reducing costs, improving services and engaging the business community—the Mayor and President together formed the largest nonprofit managed LWIA in the nation, the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. Its services are available to all residents and businesses within Cook County, including the City of Chicago and more than 200 other municipalities.
Since its introduction in July 2012, The Partnership has implemented numerous policy changes to align occupational training services with current and projected business needs. Through its Business Relations and Economic Development team, The Partnership has amplified private sector awareness of the region’s workforce resources and has led to deeper business engagement.