Illinois Medical District

5-Year Growth Strategy
Completed in 2018
Chicago, IL
Project Facts
The IMD is the largest concentration of healthcare institutions in the state of Illinois with significant potential to drive economic growth.


Full Case Study:

The 5-Year Growth Strategy for the Illinois Medical District created a financial and operational guide to action for identifying, selecting, and implementing new initiatives and projects. As a strategic consultant, Ascent guided the strategy development.

Client Background

The Illinois Medical District (IMD) is the second largest urban medical district in the country, encompassing 560 acres located within two miles of downtown Chicago. The IMD includes a wide variety of healthcare facilities, biotech business incubators, raw development land, universities and medical research facilities. It is anchored by four major healthcare institutions:

– University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System
– John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County
– Rush University Medical Center
– Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center

The IMD is the largest concentration of healthcare institutions in the state with significant potential to drive economic growth. As a unit of local government, it is supported by an appointed Board of Commissioners tasked with convening connections between IMD partners and real estate, research, program and technology initiatives. The IMD’s mission is to “be a leader in patient care and medical research utilizing our diversity and unique assets while driving economic growth.”

About the Project

After successfully eliminating the organization’s sizable debt service, which had stalled growth, the IMD faced a pivotal moment in its development. It had a master plan, a strategic vision for growth, dedicated staff, and a clear sense of identity, yet sought guidance on the resources, practices and structures it needed in order to move forward with focus. Ascent developed a 2-phased approach. An initial workshop examined the IMD’s big-picture goals in light of its funding and organizational readiness. Phase II, developed over 3 months, resulted in a first draft of IMD’s 5-year growth strategy. This ‘living document’ expands the IMD’s financial planning horizon and provides a structured way to evaluate new initiatives that diversify income, spur innovation, and promote economic development.


IMD is a small organization managing a sizable district with many stakeholders. Its challenge is to leverage its resources efficiently and effectively evaluate a high number of proposals for innovation and development that will spur economic growth.

How Does Ascent Help?

As a strategic advisor, Ascent helped the IMD create structure and processes around financial planning, evaluating new initiatives and projects, and organizational readiness.


The 5-Year-Growth-Strategy strengthened the IMD’s readiness as it transitioned to a healthier financial state, poised for proactive development. It created an implementation strategy based on the organization’s finances, operations, staffing, resource levels, consistently grounded in the mission and vision of IMD. As a result, it is strategically better positioned to:

– Enhance healthcare delivery
– Drive economic development and positive community impact
– Foster collaboration and innovation within the district

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