Economic Development

OCR supports the economic development efforts of the university. Economic development efforts are implemented by units across campus and include the following major components:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Innovation & Research Clusters
  • Infrastructure
  • Company Attraction
  • Workforce Development
  • Place-Making and Community Development
  • Rural and Urban Community Engagement
  • Global Relations and Trade Support

Working with local governments and agencies, the OCR is committed to enhancing the community and regional competitiveness. Our office reaches out to corporations in the local community and is able to provide resources and services to connect with the University. Getting out into the community helps identify job skill growth opportunities where curriculum could be developed to enhance local recruitment and employer needs. Some of our key economic development activities support - 

Research Park 

The OCR also supports the state-of-the-art Research Park at the University of Illinois, located on campus, provides technology-based businesses the opportunity to engage with faculty and students through collaborative research, and also offers access to University labs, equipment, and services. Though many big businesses are attracted to Illinois and to Research Park, small and mid-sized businesses can easily find the expertise, support, and resources they need to grow their business as well. The Office of Corporate Relations will serve as a central point of contact for businesses of all sizes as you explore opportunities with Research Park. There are currently over 120 companies located in the Research Park.

  • Technology hub for startup companies and corporate research and development operations
  • Major corporations include: Ameren, BP, Capital One, CAT, Bayer, John Deere, Kohler, NVIDIA, State Farm, and Synchrony among others
  • 56 companies currently in the EnterpriseWorks startup incubator
  • Named #2 startup community by Silicon Prairie Magazine
  • Employ student interns year-round as a lower-cost workforce with a high potential for full-time recruitment after graduation

For further information, visit

Chancellor's Economic Development Advisory Council (CEDAC)

The CEDAC, which is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation and staffed by the OCR, brings together senior university leadership, leaders of major business sectors, and not-for-profit organizations in Champaign-Urbana, the US Construction Engineering Research  Laboratory (USCERL), and Parkland College to discuss potential areas of growth for the local and regional economy and to develop action plans for these areas. Representatives of the city governments of Champaign and Urbana are being invited to join the CEDAC in 2020. The CEDAC  has created teams of volunteers for several major priority areas identified by the members of the  Council. The OCR employees staff these groups and scheduling meetings of these teams, identify action items from each meeting, and conduct any research required for these items. These efforts have ensured that the teams have been able to make significant progress. 

The OCR is currently working on three economic development initiatives to address the priorities identified by the CEDAC. These are establishing a coding academy program in Champaign-Urbana, launching a med-tech initiative to support med-tech related startups and businesses, and marketing Champaign-Urbana as an attractive location for businesses in terms of access to talent and a high-quality innovation ecosystem, and a great community to live in.