Posted: January 10, 2018
State of the County
Chairman Cronin's Address to DuPage Business Leaders
Hosted by Chamber630 in conjunction with Choose DuPage and other area Chambers, the annual State of DuPage County luncheon took place on January 10th. At the event, Chairman Cronin addressed an audience of over 200 DuPage business leaders on the County's efforts to reduce taxes, provide an attractive business climate, and create efficiencies in government, as well as the opportunities 2018 will bring.
Chairman Cronin's State of the County Address
"I welcome this opportunity because we consider our relationship with the business community central to our success here in DuPage County.
As a small business owner and employer, I know what it takes to bring in business, make payroll and turn on the lights each morning. So together, we understand and embrace the importance of a solid economic development plan to bring business here, retain existing companies and plan for a robust future in which young professionals and business owners are nurtured, fostering their success and growth.
As we take stock at the beginning of this year, let’s “run the numbers” and evaluate how we’re doing. Data tells an important part of our story.
My first bit of news is remarkable, but it will sound very familiar. This year, the County portion of your property tax did not go up. This is the tenth year in a row our portion of the property tax rate has remained flat at $66.9 million dollars. While other counties have tried taxing everything, including a can of pop, our property tax levy remains flat. What makes this remarkable is that when the General Assembly passed the budget this summer, they kept $3.5 million of the funds traditionally returned to DuPage County. Therefore, we asked our departments and countywide elected officials to tighten their belts to meet the new revenue expectations while maintaining service levels our customers, you the taxpayers, have come to expect.
I alluded to the “soda tax” that was so controversial in Cook County. Bear in mind that we’ve kept our property tax rate flat while REDUCING our sales tax a quarter cent. In 2016, the quarter cent portion of the tax that supported the DuPage Water Commission sunset. So, when it comes to growing business here, we want to honestly say we are doing everything we can to create as “low-tax” an environment as we can, within the borders of Illinois.
And that strategy pays off. John Carpenter of Choose DuPage, DuPage County’s economic development organization, reports a wave of new businesses chose to locate here.
Rexnord Corporation re-committed to Downers Grove after a national search for their aerospace headquarters. The company will redevelop its existing site and build an additional 248,000 square-foot facility expected to be completed by 2019.
We have been notified a Hungarian aviation company and Portuguese software company will move their U.S. operations to DuPage County. The County’s international reach is expanding, with more than 800 foreign-owned companies operating in DuPage, representing more than 40 different countries.
And just last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics moved into their new, five-story, 183,000 square-foot office building in Itasca, bringing 455 new jobs to DuPage. Based on the number of added jobs, healthcare is both the largest and fastest-growing industry in DuPage County.
We are thrilled with this progress, but we’re not satisfied to rest on our laurels. We have some exciting new initiatives and plans I’m eager to share.
Late last year, we joined with the College of DuPage and the Village of Glen Ellyn to build on the success our Rev3 Innovation Center. Our new initiative, Innovation DuPage, is a cooperative venture promoting business growth and job creation. Together with our partners, we will guide entrepreneurs, small businesses and new companies on the path to success.
When you head to the polls in March, you’ll see a question on the ballot related to our next big initiative this year. We are asking voters, in an advisory referendum, whether they are in favor of consolidating our DuPage Election Commission and our County Clerk’s office to improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars. As you may recall, last spring we made an initial foray passing a bill in the Senate, which later became bogged down in the House during the last hours of the session. This year, with what we hope will be overwhelming voter support, we will pursue new legislation that simply folds election and voter services right into the administrative duties of the County Clerk’s office. This is the model used by most counties in the state of Illinois. Since I took office in 2010, a series of reforms in the Election Commission alone have netted our residents more than $3 million in savings. Our consolidation proposal, we expect, will save us even more money, but more importantly, the goal is to offer one-stop shopping at the DuPage County Clerk’s Office and improve customer service for all residents.
This summer, we will complete the renovation of the former DuPage Juvenile Detention Facility and cut a ribbon on the new consolidated DU-COMM Emergency Dispatch Center. This state-of-the-art public safety center will house the consolidated DU-COMM dispatch center, the County’s Emergency Telephone System Board and our Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Bringing DU-COMM on campus with other County safety experts provides dispatchers optimal space, allows our emergency management services to, again, share resources and provides the County rental revenue for space that was previously vacated.
That’s our approach…collaboration at the local, regional and statewide level. Our Accountability Consolidation and Transparency Initiative is changing the culture and conversation in DuPage government, and is influencing the thinking in our region and state. Last spring, Senate Bill 3 was part of the so-called “grand bargain” that became the basis for the budget compromise. It extended our DuPage model for local government consolidation to all 101 other counties throughout the state.
We think, at more than 7,000 plus units, there’s too much government in the state of Illinois. Our goal has been to reduce footprint of local government, squeezing out value and fostering excellence in customer service for our taxpayers.
I’ve outlined a couple of big ideas and new rocks we plan to move to create an inviting atmosphere for business growth. Our economy is strong with an unemployment rate of 3.9% – the lowest in our region. Even though the General Assembly passed a budget that kept $3.5 million of our DuPage taxpayer dollars, we balanced our county budget and did not raise your taxes, and in fact, we reduced the burden when we could.
If I were an analyst on CNBC I’d tell you I’m “bullish” …or very optimistic about the year ahead. 2018 will bring new opportunities and the ability to explore further partnerships that will move our County even further ahead. I’m grateful to have the support of business leaders like you. I always appreciate the opportunity to talk with you and I welcome your questions and thoughts."
- Chairman Dan Cronin, DuPage County Board
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Posted: December 23, 2017
O'Hare Western Access is Road to Opportunity
Letter to the Editor of the Daily Herald, by John A. Carpenter, President & CEO of Choose DuPage
There have been a number of stories written over the past few years regarding the progress of the Western Access O'Hare project. Local media has recently questioned if the new I-390 Tollway will ever lead somewhere. It appears people have short memories. The new I-390 Tollway is part of the Western Access effort that will eventually connect to O'Hare creating a western access point to the airport -- a project vital to our region, and especially DuPage County.
Key components of the O'Hare Modernization Project (OMP), agreed to and approved 15 years ago, were predicated upon the successful completion of the Elgin-O'Hare Tollway, I-390. The project began with an addition of nearly 50 expressway lane miles. By converting Thorndale Avenue into a limited-access, four-lane highway, we've created an extension to the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, opening the opportunity to build a bypass that connects I-90 and I-294.
This is an incredibly important project, not only for DuPage County, but for residents and businesses across the Chicagoland region as whole. The benefits from the Western Access O'Hare project are compelling. As a component of the larger OMP, this effort will completely transform the economy of the region.
As a quick reminder, according to the Elgin-O'Hare Western Bypass Advisory Council, the economic benefits of this project include:
- Creation of 65,000 jobs by 2040
- Local tax revenues expected to increase by $29M annually (based on 2010 projection)
- 13,450 jobs will be created annually in the region during construction
- Travel delays will be reduced, saving an estimated $145 million annually by 2040
Today, the manufacturing, transportation and warehousing industries have a workforce of 75,000 in DuPage County, nearly 15 percent of our entire labor force. The Western Access O'Hare project is vital to the future of our region if we are to sustain this level of economic activity. Despite the uncertainty that both public-and private-sector organizations face in today's environment, Choose DuPage continues to work toward expanding the regional economy through actions that stimulate business investment in our region and generate desirable job opportunities for residents.
In a market where industrial vacancy rates have been on a nearly continuous five-year decline, our county is finding new ways to remain competitive. Industrial businesses are making their move to DuPage, and Western Access to O'Hare allows for further growth; this is truly a road to opportunity, crucial to the future of our economy.
Since 2014, Choose DuPage has worked with the Illinois Tollway and regional public- and private-sector leaders to establish the Western Access O'Hare corridor as a premier global business location. This project will relieve congestion in the western suburbs and generate a raft of jobs and economic growth—with or without a new O'Hare western terminal. DuPage deserves this and the region will benefit from it. So, I challenge the notion I-390 is a road to nowhere. Meaningful western access is building a road to opportunity that is crucial to the future of our economy.
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Posted: December 13, 2017
FROM THE DESK OF JOHN A. CARPENTER: YEAR-END UPDATE ON CHOOSE DUPAGE’S 4-POINT PLAN
A BLUEPRINT FOR DUPAGE'S PROSPERITY
In 2015, Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance launched a 4-point plan—four strategic initiatives to further economic evolution and drive development in DuPage County. As 2017 draws to a close, I’d like to reflect on the progress of these initiatives and plans for the future.
1. Commercializing Ideas at Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne National Laboratory launched Chain Reaction Innovations (CIR) in 2016, an onsite tech incubator for science and energy entrepreneurs, and is working with Choose DuPage to attract companies that would best benefit from Argonne’s world-class facilities and research. This year, we have involved Argonne and Chain Reaction Innovations in our plans for Innovation DuPage, a new business incubator and accelerator being launched in partnership with Choose DuPage, Rev3 Innovation Center, College of DuPage, Village of Glen Ellyn, Benedictine University, Elmhurst College, and DuPage Impact LLC. As plans for Innovation DuPage progress, we hope to solidify our partnership with Argonne and Chain Reaction Innovations. Additionally, Argonne has participated in choose DuPage programs such as the Regional Business Outlook.
2. Solving the “Last Mile” Commute Problem
One persistent issue with companies that call the suburbs home is finding ways to make the commutes of office workers who choose not to drive to their jobs easier. Many office buildings aren't conveniently located to public transit alternatives such as train stations, a problem known as the first-mile/last-mile commute. Choose DuPage has been working with Burr Ridge-based Innova EV, Hamilton Partners and the Village of Itasca to solve this problem. In 2017, Innova EV launched a pilot program using electric vehicles to get employees from the Itasca train station to the office development Hamilton Lakes. This has laid the groundwork for additional pilot programs in an effort to apply our solutions to alternate scenarios.
3. Developing and Encouraging Growth at DuPage Business Center
This 800-acre campus in West Chicago is a fertile ground for development. With a diverse communication system, accessible utilities onsite, and direct access to DuPage Airport, the campus is ideal for a variety of businesses. Earlier this year, Choose DuPage submitted DuPage Business Center as one of two in DuPage ideal for Amazon’s headquarters.
4. Facilitating Western Access to O’Hare Airport
Providing meaningful access to O’Hare from the western suburbs will transform the region—saving $145M in travel delays; creating over 13,000 jobs annually during the project; boost local tax revenues by $29M annually; and most important, lay the groundwork for the creation of 65,000 jobs by 2040.
In 2017, the Illinois Tollway opened a second stretch of road on Illinois Route 390 from I-290 to Illinois Route 83. This means that Illinois Route 390 now connects from Lake Street (U.S. Route 20) to Illinois Route 83. The completion of this project opens the opportunity to build a bypass that would connect I-90 and I-294. Choose DuPage will continue to work with the Illinois Tollway and DuPage County towards the completion of this critical bypass, and ultimately on delivering meaningful access to O’Hare.
In addition to these successes, we’ve also welcomed many new businesses to DuPage County in 2017:
- Just this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics moved into their new, five-story, 183,000 square-foot office building in Itasca, bringing 455 new jobs to DuPage.
- Rexnord Corporation re-committed to Downers Grove after a national search for their aerospace headquarters. The company will redevelop its existing site and build an additional 248,000 square-foot facility expected to be completed by 2019.
- Amita Health signed a 10-year lease for 225,000 square-feet of office space in the Navistar Campus in Lisle. This new headquarters location will bring 1,100 jobs to DuPage County.
Together, these projects and many others have contributed to the prosperity of DuPage County in 2017. As we celebrate our success, and cross over the bridge into an even better 2018, we remember that everything we do is for the people, the place, the prosperity of DuPage.
John A. Carpenter
President & CEO
Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance
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Posted: December 11, 2017
DuPage County Board Honors Innovation DuPage
Innovation DuPage, the new business incubator and accelerator developed by College of DuPage in partnership with Choose DuPage, Rev3 and the Village of Glen Ellyn, received additional praise Dec. 12 in the form of a formal proclamation from the DuPage County Board.
Presented by DuPage County Board President Dan Cronin, the proclamation offered the board’s support for Innovation DuPage, which will connect small businesses with the necessary resources to thrive and stimulate job growth.
“We have a strong belief that the education, training and the extraordinary workforce of this district are absolutely the formula for success and leadership within the state and, indeed, within the nation,” said College of DuPage President Dr. Ann Rondeau in accepting the proclamation. “Innovation DuPage has been an enormous teaming that includes county, village and college experts. I am grateful for all the hard work that has gone into this endeavor and excited for the possibilities it brings to DuPage County.”
Dr. Rondeau was joined by Choose DuPage President John Carpenter, Glen Ellyn Village President Diane McGinley and DuPage County Economic Development Committee Chair Tonia Khouri. Innovation DuPage is expected to be housed in a portion of the Glen Ellyn Civic Center.
For more information about Innovation DuPage, visit innovationdupage.org.
Pictured: (from left) DuPage County Economic Development Committee Chair Tonia Khouri, College of DuPage President Dr. Ann Rondeau, Choose DuPage President and CEO John Carpenter, DuPage County Board President Dan Cronin, and Glen Ellyn Village President Diane McGinley.
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Posted: December 11, 2017
Portuguese Company Relocating U.S. Headquarters to DuPage County
Last month, executives from Portuguese mobility services company A-to-Be met with leaders from the County and toured Elite Manufacturing in Bloomingdale. The company is preparing for the relocation of its U.S. operations from Colorado to DuPage County following its recent award to supply the Illinois Tollway with 270 Automatic Toll Payment Machines (ATPMs).
A-to-Be was recently selected to supply the Illinois Tollway with the ATPM machines which will improve service to tollway users, including the underbanked, while saving the Illinois Tollway significant operational costs. The ATPM machines will be built through a partnership with Elite Manufacturing, an advanced machine design and fabrication company in Bloomingdale.
A-to-Be has been active in Portugal for 30 years and operating in the U.S. for the last three years from its U.S. headquarters in Colorado. Its U.S. headquarters relocated to Downers Grove, a short distance from the Tollway on November 1, 2017.
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Posted: December 4, 2017
Real Estate Firm New Home Star Takes No. 2 Spot on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work in 2018 List
No. 2 ranking highest for a real estate firm in Glassdoor history
Chicago-based New Home Star, which also has an office in Elmhurst is the largest private seller of new homes in America. Recently, they were honored with a Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award, recognizing the Best Places to Work in 2018. The Employees’ Choice Awards program, now in its 10th year, relies solely on the feedback of employees via Glassdoor, one of the fastest growing jobs and recruiting sites. New Home Star’s No. 2 ranking in the top 50 companies with less than 1,000 employees makes it the highest ranked real estate company since the inception of the list.
“We are continuously inspired and encouraged by the positive feedback we receive from our employees through Glassdoor,” said David Rice, founder and CEO of New Home Star. “We celebrate our top two position on this list, but our vision is to build the best sales team in the world and we still have work to do.”
Rice noted that annually, the Glassdoor list of best places to work is dominated by tech companies, so it’s quite the exception for a service company to be ranked so high. “We’re a traditional service company that has the privilege of selling the American Dream of new-home ownership, while using exciting and progressive technology to engage our people and drive a world-class culture that rivals some of the most innovative tech brands in the nation,” said Rice.
Ten years ago, the housing crash changed the trajectory of the real estate industry and drove many potential job applicants away, but things have changed for this Chicago-based firm. “We see upwards of 2,500 applicants a month interested in a career with us, and most of our millennial candidates research our culture and workplace extensively before ever making contact,” explained Rice.
On Glassdoor, current and former employees of companies worldwide can share insights and opinions about their work environments by sharing a company review, designed to capture a genuine and authentic inside look at what it’s like to work at particular jobs and companies. When sharing a company review on Glassdoor, employees are asked to rate their satisfaction with the company overall, and key workplace factors like career opportunities, compensation, benefits, work/life balance, senior management, as well as culture and values. In addition, employees are asked to describe the best reasons to work at their companies as well as any downsides.
“We know today’s job seekers are more informed than ever about where they go to work, researching everything from company culture to career opportunities to pay philosophy and more. To help people find companies that stand out from the pack, the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards recognizes employers that are truly Best Places to Work because they’re determined by those who really know best - the employees,” said Robert Hohman, Glassdoor CEO and co-founder. “Employers where employees love to work continue to prove that they have a recruiting and business performance advantage. We’re proud to celebrate the 2018 winners as we mark our 10th anniversary of the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards.”
The Best Places to Work are determined using company reviews shared by U.S.-based employees between Nov. 1, 2016 and Oct. 22, 2017. To be considered for the small and medium category, a company must have less than 1,000 employees and have received at least 25 ratings across eight workplace attributes from U.S.-based employees during the period of eligibility. The final list is compiled based on Glassdoor’s proprietary algorithm, and takes into account quantity, quality and consistency of reviews.
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