Governor JB Pritzker plans to return to Chicago on Thursday after a seven-day trip to the United Kingdom aimed at advancing Illinois' economic development goals, including clean energy and technology – his second major international trip of the year.
And Democratic governors have signaled that more trips — including trips to Israel, Mexico and Asia — are in the works.
In a call with reporters early Wednesday from London, Pritzker said he was actively pursuing Illinois partnerships with electric vehicle companies and original equipment manufacturers. The governor said he was introducing Illinois to several electric vehicle companies at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex.
Pritzker last year signed the Reimagining Electric Vehicles Act, which adds incentives to production of electric vehicles in the state by providing tax credits, tax breaks, investment credits, and by lowering property taxes for projects. Pritzker aims to have one million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by 2030.
“The pipeline of deals available to us has grown significantly,” Pritzker told reporters. “I think you realize that we are competitive with other states and that we are in the final throes of a number of opportunities.”
Pritzker said he couldn't release the company name because of a non-disclosure agreement, but hinted, “there will be an announcement.”
“We've made a lot of progress and most importantly, people now recognize that Illinois had a lot to offer before it was assumed that we didn't,” Pritzker said. “And now we do.”
On Tuesday, Pritzker and Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch met with Nigel Huddleston, Secretary of State for Business and Commerce to announce intentions to enter into a memorandum of understanding between Britain and Illinois to advance trade and economic development goals, the governor's office said.
Pritzker also met with executives from Tate & Lyle, a global food and beverage supplier, and the Campari Group, one of the world's largest beverage companies, to discuss continuing their investment in Illinois.
The governor and speakers also participated in a roundtable discussion at the University of Chicago Booth London campus on quantum technology and innovation.
On Wednesday, Pritzker hosted a “Clean Energy and Clean Technology” roundtable with Illinois and UK-based energy companies.
The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen collaboration to create a net zero energy future, according to the governor's office. The list of companies included in the agreement includes Commonwealth Edison, Ameren, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas and Northern Illinois Gas, among other energy grids.
Pritzker told reporters he was planning other international trips for this year and next, including to Japan.
“When I say Asia, I include a lot of countries there. It might take two trips to a place that really covers a lot of ground,” says Pritzker. “I think there is no doubt that in North and South America, there are countries that we should continue to build relationships with, Mexico is one of them. And then there are parts of Europe that I still haven't spent enough time with.”
Pritzker said he was also invited by officials to Israel: “There will be some great trading partners for us in Israel.”
Pritzker in January traveled to Davos, Switzerland, to speak at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and promote the country's achievements. The governor's office said he would return to Chicago on Thursday.