Posted: February 6, 2019
Eight DuPage hotels named to US News & World Report's Best Hotels list
US News & World Report this week released its 2019 Best Hotels list naming eight DuPage County hotels to its rankings. The complete list includes 3,877 U.S. hotels with 943 of those in Illinois.
Hotel Arista at CityGate Centre in Naperville was ranked No. 21 in the state, the highest Illinois rating outside of Chicago city limits, followed by Westin Lombard at No. 49, Le Meridien Oakbrook at No. 53, Drake Oak Brook at No. 66, Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook at No. 76, Embassy Suites Naperville at No. 78, Chicago Marriott Naperville at No. 104, and rounding out the list is Hotel Indigo in Naperville at No. 105.
US News travel rankings are based on an analysis of expert and user opinions. According to its published methodology, "We believe this unbiased approach makes our rankings more useful than simply providing our editors' personal opinions."
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Posted: February 1, 2019
Annual Economic Indicators Report Shows Strong Performance and Growth Opportunities for DuPage County
Low unemployment, industrial vacancy rate creates tremendous opportunity for development
Choose DuPage Economic Development Alliance has released its findings from their 2018 Annual Economic Indicators Report, including metrics showing positive economic growth achieved on several fronts over the past year. DuPage County is home to nearly 75,000 businesses providing more than 650,000 jobs and continues to attract a variety of industries from food manufacturers to nationally-ranked healthcare institutions. New businesses are relocating to make DuPage County their home, while local industries continue to expand their footprint.
2018 Economic Indicators Report Highlights:
- Closing out the year, DuPage County again had the lowest unemployment rate in the region at 2.9%; lower than both the State of Illinois (4.2%) and United States (3.7%).
- DuPage County’s top job opportunities in 2018 were reported to be in retail sales, customer service and labor, while the fastest-growing industries (by employment) were healthcare and social assistance, and professional, scientific, and technical services.
- Office vacancy rates dropped 1.5% from 15.8% at the end of 2017 to 14.2% at the end of 2018; Industrial vacancy rates fell from 5.1% this time last year, to 4.4%. DuPage County continues to have one of the lowest industrial vacancy rates in the region.
Data shows DuPage County continues to have the lowest industrial vacancy rate in the region running at 4.4%. DuPage office vacancy rates have continually declined and are holding steady at 14.2%. Space is being acquired by new businesses moving into the area as well as the expansion of existing DuPage businesses. During 2018, Aldi expanded its corporate offices into Naperville, leasing 113,000 square-feet in the Naperville Woods Office Center. Additionally, Elkay Manufacturing signed a new lease for 47,073 square-feet of office space in Downers Grove.
“Businesses continue to choose DuPage County because of our highly-skilled workforce, dynamic business climate, low commercial property taxes and overall operating costs,” said John Carpenter, president and CEO of Choose DuPage. “The County had a number of spec industrial buildings break ground in 2018 including the North Avenue Commerce Center in Winfield and Bridge Point Downers Grove. Combined, these developments will bring an additional one million square-feet of industrial space to DuPage County—a valuable resource for further economic development in our area.”
Economic indicators show continued growth and success for DuPage County making the area an ideal location for developers and businesses to land in 2019. Click here to download the complete Choose DuPage 2018 Annual Economic Indicators Report.
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Posted: January 8, 2019
Development proposed for McDonald's Plaza site
Article by Pioneer Press's Chuck Fieldman, view here.
A proposed mixed-use development at the McDonald’s Plaza site along the north side of 22nd Street at Spring Road would bring retail stores, restaurants, office space, condominiums, luxury rental apartments and park space to Oak Brook.
Hines, a 63-year-old privately owned global real estate investment, development and management firm with a presence in more than 200 cities in 24 countries, gave the Village Board a preliminary review Tuesday of the project.
“We get the opportunity to take 16 acres of asphalt and make it into something very special,” said Greg Van Schaack, Hines’ senior managing director in Chicago.
Hines wants to build what it’s calling Oak Brook Commons on 16.5 acres on which a McDonald’s restaurant already has been demolished and the existing McDonald’s office building would be torn down.
Plans call for up to 280 apartments, which will have an average monthly rental price of $2,700, along with two condominium buildings that would have about 48 units each for sale.
Two office buildings would have a total of 300,000 square feet and a high-end hotel would have up to 250 rooms.
The apartment building, which would offer Oak Brook’s first apartment rentals, would be developed with the infrastructure, amenities, and unit finish quality to enable a potential conversion to for-sale condominiums should market forces support this strategy in the future.
The office buildings would be the first multi-tenant office property to be built in the village since Hines completed a building at 700 Commerce Drive in 2000. The first phase of the project includes grading, site prep, utility work, parking, sidewalks, landscaping and lighting, followed by development of the retail and apartment components of the project and completion of a public park.
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Posted: January 5, 2019
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 9th. At the event, Chairman Cronin addressed an audience of DuPage business leaders on the County’s efforts to save taxpayer dollars, attract more businesses to DuPage County, and discuss the many opportunities 2019 will bring.
CHAIRMAN CRONIN’S STATE OF THE COUNTRY ADDRESS
“Thank you. I welcome this opportunity because we consider our relationship with the business community central to our success here in DuPage County.
Welcome to 2019 everyone! I hope you had a joyful holiday season. I hope Santa Claus was nice to everyone. The New Year provides us with a fresh start…a clean slate.
What do we hope to accomplish in 2019?
In my position as County Board Chairman, I now have six new colleagues who were newly-elected to the Board on November 6th. Some folks have whispered to me, “Cronin, those new members…they’re not Republicans. How’s that going to work?”
I remind them that in my 20 years in Springfield, I spent most of that time….in the MINORITY party…so I have a lot of experience with reaching across the aisle to get things done.
And that’s the job. Getting things done, solving problems, moving DuPage County ever forward.
As I head into my third term as Chairman, I can say we’ve done a pretty good job making DuPage County government work more efficiently on behalf of taxpayers. Let me explain what I mean.
First…many of you know of our focus on reducing the size, scope and cost of government through our ACT Initiative. ACT stands for Accountability, Consolidation and Transparency.
By the end of 2019 we will have dissolved seven local units of government. Through extensive study and working in collaboration with these local entities, we determined their services could be provided in a more efficient manner by another unit of government. Two of those entities are in the southeast portion of the county. This fall, a trustee in dissolution was appointed to finalize the North Westmont Fire Protection District dissolution process. And this year, the same process will finally dissolve the Highland Hills Sanitary District, as the County provides those residents Lake Michigan water now, and Flagg Creek Sanitary District will provide sewer service. The DuPage County Board and our Public Works Department were instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition to Lake Michigan water for the residents in that unincorporated Lombard subdivision. We’ve heard from many who are thrilled with the big improvement in water service.
These changes are possible because we imagined that local government could look and work differently to better serve people. In my first term in office, we passed legislation allowing DuPage to become the only county allowed to dissolve some small units of local government. Now, the seven entities dissolved will no longer appear on DuPage County tax bills. In November of 2018, 86% of voters told us they were in favor of DuPage County continuing efforts to consolidate and reduce the cost of local government. And the effort has caught on with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle sponsoring legislation to take this approach to the other 101 counties in Illinois. It’s a small but important step we can take to make government work more efficiently…saving taxpayer dollars.
For the eleventh year in a row, we balanced our budget and managed to keep the tax levy flat at $66.9 million dollars. I’ll remind you that the County government portion of your property tax bill is less than 3%. While providing an outstanding level of service, we do everything we can to create as “low-tax” an environment as we can, within the borders of Illinois. We try to make our county an attractive place for businesses to locate, grow and thrive.
And that strategy pays off. John Carpenter, CEO of Choose DuPage, our County’s economic development organization reports some very compelling statistics and trends.
- Real Estate Journal recently mentioned DuPage County as a “hot location” for industrial activity and cited the opportunity DuPage presents to corporations looking for warehouses, distribution and manufacturing centers.
- The county was named one of the top 12 manufacturing communities in the nation and thanks to a regional partnership with Cook and the other collar counties, businesses know we have access to $1.3 billion in federal grants through the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Initiative. Because of this, the magazine writes, “DuPage County could be a hub for new manufacturing developments well into 2019 and beyond.”
- We’ve seen important economic development out at the DuPage Airport. This August, I broke ground at the DuPage Business Center in West Chicago with representatives from Suncast, Norix and Greco Brothers, who invested more than $13.8 million to develop more than a million square feet of space. Their collective investment in DuPage County will create 400 permanent jobs with an estimated economic impact of $94 million dollars.
- And we’re excited about companies like Green Bay Packaging which broke ground this fall on a new 170-thousand-foot state-of-the-art distribution center in Downers Grove that will house a high-tech design department as well as expand warehouse capabilities.
- Economic indicators still provide welcome news about DuPage County…which is good news as we all hang on to our 401K’s during the market’s tumultuous ride. Unemployment hit historic lows here in 2018 and remains remarkably low at just 2.9%. Our industrial vacancy rate is also among the lowest in the region and particularly around O’Hare, with the completion of Illinois 390, demand is very high…that demand is sending companies looking for appropriate expansion opportunities our way, and we welcome them.
But we’re not content to rest on our laurels. We’re heading into 2019 with some ambitious goals.
Last March, voters told us they were in favor of consolidating our DuPage Election Commission and our County Clerk’s office to improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars. After two rounds in the General Assembly, we worked in a bipartisan manner and passed a bill …which the Governor signed into law here in DuPage County… giving the County Board the ability to dissolve the Election Commission and roll its duties into the County Clerk’s office. This model is used in almost every other County in Illinois. The City of Aurora, led by Mayor Richard Irvin, did the same thing and their City Council voted to eliminate their Election Commission. We intend to dissolve our Election Commission this year. This effort is the culmination of work I’ve been doing since I was elected in 2010. Just a reminder…a series of reforms at the Election Commission, ending in its dissolution, will have netted DuPage taxpayers more than $3 million in savings. More importantly, the goal is to offer one-stop shopping at the County Clerk’s Office and improve customer service for all residents.
As you can see, we are focusing on areas of service that have a direct benefit to the community. We’ve been focused on the health of our residents, particularly those who live near the Sterigenics Willowbrook facility. Since the first news about ethylene oxide being emitted into the air surfaced in August, I’ve been immersed in the issue. I traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with the EPA to demand answers. I’ve authored letters with federal, state and local lawmakers and elected officials demanding the facility be shut down unless and until there’s a way for it to operate safely. I’m in constant contact with State’s Attorney Berlin, the Attorney General’s office, your own Senator John Curran and Leader Jim Durkin as we have the health and safety of our residents…at the top of our minds. Our health department worked with the Illinois E.P.A to test well water for those living closest to the plant, to ensure no by-products are showing up in drinking water. Listen, I am all for helping business thrive in our county, but I simply won’t tolerate a business that doesn’t put the health and safety of our residents first and foremost. I know I speak for all of you when I say we expect our businesses to be good neighbors.
On the same topic…the health and safety of DuPage…In FY 2019, our line item funding the Heroin Opioid Prevention Education task force remains consistent at $100,000. I’m pleased to say that with our DuPage Public Health Department taking the lead, our ability to collaborate and fight the scourge of opioid and heroin addiction in our county is more effective. Since our RX Box program launched in 2009, DuPage has collected 48 tons of unused medication removing it from our landfills, water supply and most importantly from potential abuse. This successful program has now expanded to 41 locations throughout the county.
And finally, as I mentioned at the beginning of my talk, I was recently sworn into to office to begin my third term as Chairman. Our Inauguration ceremony is always an exciting evening. But, one of the high points of the evening was the few minutes I had reserved to meet with Jesse Hernandez, ahead of the ceremony. Jesse is the first person who worked as an intern in a new program we started between DuPage County and Turning Pointe Autism Foundation in Naperville. Turning Pointe helps people with autism develop job skills, so they can be employed. Earlier this year, we partnered with Turning Pointe to provide internships for people like Jesse who needed work experience. Well, it turns out, the internship has gone wonderfully, and Jesse has joined County as a member of our housekeeping staff. It’s a small step in a program that we hope will grow by leaps and bounds. Having Jesse as an employee reminds me, that in my role as Chairman, I can help create connections between people in need and opportunity. It’s hard for me to describe how important a job is to a family who’s not sure what the future holds for their beloved son or daughter. I can guarantee you, connecting people with disabilities… to jobs in their community…is one of the most important aspects I treasure in my role as a public servant.
So, I’ve sketched out our plans for the year ahead, identified the rocks, both big and small, that I intend to move. I’m optimistic about the year ahead. 2019 will bring new opportunities and a path to progress to DuPage. I’m grateful to have the support of business leaders like you. And I deeply appreciate your kind attention and the opportunity to talk with you. I welcome your questions and thoughts. Thank you.”
-Chairman Dan Cronin, DuPage County Board
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Posted: December 7, 2018
Illinois Recognized as a National Leader for Electrical Grid Modernization
Press release published by ComEd, view here.
ComEd’s work to modernize its energy grid has brought greater reliability and control over energy usage to its customers, helping to earn Illinois the second spot among all U.S. states in the 2018 Grid Modernization Index (GMI), available at www.gridwise.org.
The report, produced by the GridWise® Alliance and the Smart Grid Policy Center, evaluates and ranks states based on their progress in modernizing their electric systems with smart grid technologies. The GMI applies a clearly defined set of criteria to evaluate the progress of state grid modernization efforts in three key areas: State Support, Customer Engagement and Grid Operations.
“Our work to modernize the grid has helped to deliver the best power reliability and service to our customers on record,” said Terence R. Donnelly, ComEd president and chief operating officer. “Thanks to the support of Illinois policymakers and the Illinois Commerce Commission, we’ve built a smart grid that lays the foundation to connect customers and communities with cleaner energy and more energy efficiency programs and create jobs in some of the fastest-growing energy sectors.”
This is the fourth consecutive year that Illinois was recognized as a top state in grid modernization. Illinois and California were tied for first in Grid Operations, with Illinois following only California in the other two categories. ComEd’s sister companies within Exelon – Atlantic City Electric, BGE, Delmarva Power, PECO and Pepco – are in the top half of states in the report.
Today’s digital grid helps ComEd empower customers to save more money and energy through new solutions created by the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) that the Illinois General Assembly passed in 2016 and took effect in 2017. FEJA authorizes ComEd to invest $1.4 billion over four years in programs that will save business and residential customers $7 billion and eliminate 95 billion pounds of carbon emissions – while remaining focused on helping Illinois grow and attract businesses.
"This high ranking of Illinois’ energy grid and ComEd's sustained reliability performance helps set Illinois apart from other states we compete with for new business investment," said Mark Peterson, President and CEO of Intersect Illinois, a privately funded statewide economic development organization. "A #2 ranking provides businesses the assurance that Illinois is the right place for their continued growth and job creation."
ComEd continues to test new technologies as part of its Community of the Future in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, where the company collaborates with residents to identify needs and opportunities to leverage smart grid technology and related services. In addition to the microgrid ComEd is building there, technology pilots include an electric vehicle transportation service; off-grid wind and solar LED streetlights; and outdoor interactive displays providing community news, emergency alerts, wayfinding and public Wi-Fi. The effort also supports educational programs promoting development of STEM skills among area high school students.
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Posted: December 2, 2018
Board Appoints Dr. Brian W. Caputo Interim President
Article published by College of DuPage Newroom, view here.
The College of DuPage Board of Trustees unanimously voted to appoint Dr. Brian W. Caputo, Vice President of Administration and CFO at the College, as the new interim president. Dr. Caputo will begin his post Jan. 1, 2019 to replace outgoing President Dr. Ann Rondeau, who will step down at the end of the year to become president at the Naval Postgraduate School.
Board Chairman Deanne Mazzochi expressed her appreciation of Dr. Caputo’s broad leadership and executive experience as well as his involvement in every major College functional area. Mazzochi added that Dr. Caputo’s experience and versatility will serve College of DuPage well as he leads the institution to the next level.
“Since his arrival at the College, Dr. Caputo has protected the College’s financial and institutional health in addition to ensuring critical initiatives - from Guided Pathways to facilities management to Innovation DuPage and others – have moved towards success,” she said. “Our stakeholders agreed that Dr. Caputo would be ideal to lead our institution following Dr. Rondeau’s departure. The Board is looking forward to our continued success under his leadership and in conjunction with members of the Cabinet.”
Dr. Caputo said he is deeply humbled by the Board of Trustees’ appointment as the seventh president of College of DuPage. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in the district for 20 years and their three children all attended College of DuPage.
“The College of DuPage community is comprised of extraordinarily competent, enthusiastic and dedicated faculty and staff striving to create the best possible educational experience for our students,” he said. “It is an honor and a privilege to lead such an exceptional institution. I am all in.”
Joining the College in March 2017, Dr. Caputo has been instrumental in helping to strengthen a number of key initiatives in partnership with the Board, executive leadership, faculty, staff and students. Under Dr. Caputo’s leadership, the College’s general obligation bond rating improved from AA to AA+ with Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service affirmed the College’s Aa1 rating as well as shifted its outlook from stable to positive. In addition, Dr. Caputo was directly responsible for the creation of the College’s inaugural Budget-In-Brief and Popular Annual Financial Report documents, both of which received national recognition in serving to improve financial transparency.
Dr. Caputo has been integrally involved in the two major academic initiatives at the College: Guided Pathways and Project Hire-Ed. He is a member of the Pathways Steering Committee and its Mapping Working Group as well as the Project Hire-Ed Steering Committee. The Guided Pathways initiative seeks to help students choose, enter, and complete a program of study aligned with the student’s goals for employment and further education. Project Hire-Ed is a workforce development program designed to better align post-secondary education with certain workforce skill requirements through partnerships with area employers.
Moreover, Dr. Caputo was a member of the executive team that worked to establish Innovation DuPage, a cooperative venture that promotes business growth and job creation connecting small businesses with the necessary resources to thrive, while providing new owners with the tools to succeed. Innovation DuPage was formed collaboratively with multiple governmental, economic development, and academic organizations.
Dr. Caputo has a range of experience in higher education, having previously served as a full-time faculty member at Central Michigan University. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Northern Illinois University (NIU) and a guest lecturer in numerous academic and professional capacities. He earned a Bachelor of Science from the renowned West Point, a Master of Science in Accountancy from DePaul University, and a Master of Public Administration from NIU. Dr. Caputo also earned a Ph.D. from NIU with public administration, public policy, and government finance as fields of study.
Dr. Caputo is a Certified Public Accountant as well as a Certified Public Finance Officer and in 2015, he became a Board Member of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). The GASB is a seven-member board that establishes accounting and financial reporting standards for units of state and local government in the United States, including public institutions of higher education.
Bringing more than 35 years of leadership and executive experience to the role of interim president, Dr. Caputo served as Chief Financial Officer/City Treasurer of the City of Aurora for nearly 19 years prior to becoming a vice president at College of DuPage.
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