Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to return to Chicago on Thursday after a seven-day trip to Great Britain aimed at advancing Illinois’ economic development goals, including in clean energy and technology — his second major international trip this year.
And the Democratic governor has hinted that more trips — including travel to Israel, Mexico and Asia — are in the works.
In a call with reporters Wednesday morning from London, Pritzker said he is actively pursuing Illinois partnerships with electric vehicle companies and original equipment manufacturers. The governor said he introduced Illinois to several electric vehicle firms at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex.
Pritzker last year signed the Reimagining Electric Vehicles Act, which added incentives for electric vehicle production in the state by providing tax credits, tax exemptions, investment credits and by lowering property taxes for projects. Pritzker is aiming to have 1 million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by 2030.
“The pipeline of deals that are available to us has grown significantly,” Pritzker told reporters. “I think you’re aware that that we are in competition with other states and that we’re in the final throes of a number of opportunities.”
Pritzker said he couldn’t release the names of said companies due to a nondisclosure agreement, but hinted, “there will be announcements.”
“We’ve made a lot of progress, and importantly, people do now recognize that Illinois has a lot to offer that 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, minister of state at the Department for Business and Trade, to announce the intent to pursue a memorandum of understanding between the United Kingdom and Illinois to advance trade and economic development goals, the governor’s office said.
Pritzker also met with executives from Tate & Lyle, a global supplier of food and beverage ingredients, and Campari Group, one of the largest beverage companies in the world, to discuss their continued investment in Illinois.
The governor and speaker also participated in a roundtable discussion at the University of Chicago Booth London campus about quantum technology and innovation.
On Wednesday, Pritzker hosted a “Clean Energy and Clean Technology” roundtable with Illinois and energy companies based in Great Britain.
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 include Commonwealth Edison, Ameren, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas and Northern Illinois Gas, among other energy networks.
Pritzker told reporters he is planning other international trips for this year and next year, including to Japan.
“When I say Asia, I’m including an awful lot of countries there. It might take two trips to a actually cover a lot of ground,” Pritzker said. “I think there’s no question that in North and South America, there are countries that we should continue to build relationships with, Mexico being certainly one of them. And then there are parts of Europe that I still haven’t spent enough time with.”
Pritzker said he’s also been invited by dignitaries to Israel: “There would be several 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 state’s achievements. The governor’s office said he will return home to Chicago on Thursday.