Reprinted from CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, October 4, 2004

Workers gravitate to growth sectors
By chance or plan, they wind up where the jobs are  

The job market in Chicago hasn't kept pace with nationwide improvements in employment, but there are pockets of strength. Three sectors that have shown notable job growth: hospitals, restaurants, and the shipping and distribution business (including transportation, warehousing, distribution and wholesale trade). To help understand what kinds of jobs Chicago's future holds, we spoke to WORKERS who have already gone where the growth is.

A tide of growth

When truck drivers arrive at DSC Logistics Inc.'s distribution center at the site of the former Joliet Arsenal in Elwood, Jaimie Hoholik is one of the first people they meet. She works in DSC's welcome center at the facility. But Ms. Hoholik is no Wal-Mart greeter. In a single shift she has processed as many as 175 trucks, checking whether they've arrived on time and making sure they've pulled into the correct spot among the center's 116 loading docks.

"My day goes by pretty quickly," she says.

Ms. Hoholik is riding a tide of growth in the distribution business. Nearly 8 million square feet of warehouse/distribution space was completed in the Chicago area during this year's second quarter, up from 5.7 million square feet a year earlier, and bringing the area's total to about 480 million square feet, according to Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

DSC, based in Des Plaines, is expanding to accommodate a flood of foreign goods, largely from China. The company recently opened the 1,022,554-square-foot distribution center where Ms. Hoholik works.

"It's almost like Chicago has become the ‘third coast' for manufacturers and distributors," says DSC's chief executive, Ann Drake. "That has and will continue to increase jobs in the Chicago area and strengthen the local economy."

Ms. Hoholik had no idea she was catching the industry on the upswing. She applied to DSC because the job was only a mile from her home and because the 6 a.m.-2:30 p.m. workday helped her cut down on the hours her 8-year-old daughter spends with the sitter.

Not that she hasn't noticed the commotion, or the opportunities. "There's room for advancement and there's job security," she says. "A lot of growth is yet to come, and we have the space for it."
© Copyright October 4, 2004. Crain's Chicago Business. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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