Who are the most productive commercial real estate professionals in our region? They are the CRE stars who are inducted each year in the Midwest Real Estate News Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame.
Each week, we look at a new inductee in our Hall of Fame. Today, we highlight the career of Ivan Baker, president of the North Central Illinois Economic Development Commission based in Oglesby, Illinois.
Years in his industry: 35
Making an impact: Ivan Baker might not be a broker or a developer. But as president of the North Central Illinois Economic Development Corporation, he works with developers, brokers and government officials to ensure that CRE professionals have deals to close and projects to develop.
An example? During his career, Baker has worked with real estate brokers, consultants and developers, plus marketed his region’s industrial parks, to bring in $2.8 billion in new commercial and industrial capital and generate more than 34,000 new jobs.
Working with the best: Baker has coordinated real estate projects for such international, national and regional corporations as W.R. Grace, International Multifoods, Hudson Foods, Ticketmaster, Kraft, Hollywood Casino and Avantile of Italy.
Meeting the challenges: “It’s always a challenge to make sure that elected officials understand that expanding companies have options, and that the best real estate option reduces risk, meets specific locational requirements and provides competitive profit-making potential,” Baker said. “Good communication is critical with clients to fully explain the labor and market issues and negotiate the best incentive package to assure cost savings.”
The secret to success: Baker says that he spends the majority of his time on projects that create high-quality jobs and make a major positive impact on a community. Baker also focuses the need of corporations to earn profits, something he focuses on when trying to attract these corporations to Northern Illinois.
Developing a sterling reputation: Baker has spent more than three decades developing a reputation for accuracy, honesty, trustworthiness, commitment and quality. Corporate clients, brokers, consultants and community leaders know that Baker brings in-depth knowledge of economic development, incentive negotiations and real estate to every discussion.
Earning top awards: During his long career, Baker has earned some of the most coveted honors in his field. He has been named a Fellow Member of International Economic Development, one of only 125 in the world. He is also one of only 40 Certified Economic Developers and AICP-Certified Planners in the nation who has been dual-certified by the International Economic Development Council and the American Planning Association.
Economic development programs managed by Baker have been nationally recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce, CoreNet Global, National League of Cities, International Economic Development Council and Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.
Out-of-office hours: When he’s not working with governments and corporations, Baker and his wife, Mary, spend time with their family. The couple has two children and four grandchildren. Baker is a pianist, and both he and his wife enjoy square dancing. The pair are fans of the art, theater, jazz and classical music scene in the Chicago area.