First of five parts
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
A high-tech Swiss machine tool company starts construction of its $10 million North American headquarters in Elgin, while an existing wind energy equipment manufacturer embarks on a $5 million building expansion that includes an $8 million investment in equipment.
Another Elgin firm is waiting in the wings with plans for a $10.5 million expansion of its own.
Meanwhile, yet another smaller alternative energy company from Europe leases 11,000 square feet of space in Elgin, which it, too, plans to call the home of its North American headquarters.
Throw into the mix efforts to help existing businesses expand, and a push to ensure that Elgin youth coming out of the educational system have better odds of landing a good job than their peers in other schools, and you are getting a pretty good idea of what the Elgin Development Group has been doing in the past year.
Elgin officials last week learned that the city's partnership with two business agencies are reaping rewards that promise to boost the city's tax base and provide residents more local job opportunities.
The Elgin Development Group is that partnership with the city, the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Neighborhood Association. Chamber officials gave their annual report to the City Council on March 23, during which they spotlighted some of the successes the Elgin Development Group recorded in 2010.
And the successes are significant, and cumulative, according to chamber President Leo Nelson, Vice President Carol Gieske and Elgin Development Group Director Bob Malm, who met Wednesday with BocaJump for a wide-ranging discussion of the chamber's many activities over the past year, including those in the report to the council, which spotlighted several of the Elgin Development Group's successes in the past year.
Nelson, Gieske and Malm said the chambers efforts are much broader in scope than the focus of the annual report to the council on activities in 2010. Their nearly 30-minute presentation to the council would have been much longer, they said, had they tried to go over everything the chamber and its partners worked on over the past year.
The Elgin Development Group formed about a year ago, but Nelson said the partnership between the chamber, the city and the Downtown Neighborhood Association actually began about the turn of the century and simply has shifted its form. The chamber does much of the work, he said, but gets much financial support from the city.
The chamber's report states that the Elgin Development Group's goals are to provide a solid tax base to support quality municipal and educational goals; to improve the quality of life and the standard of living for Elgin residents; to create a diverse and vibrant local economy; and to generate desirable employment opportunities.
Accomplishing those goals requires coordination with other agencies, and that means communication involving agency and committee meetings and the involvement of not only chamber officials, but also city leaders and Elgin's elected officials. That kind of interaction is essential, both in terms of setting agendas and in terms of coordinating the various efforts among all the agencies involved.
And the efforts of the chamber, the city and the Downtown Neighborhood Association through the Elgin Development Group are bearing fruit.
About this series:
► March 31: Elgin Development Group touts first-year successes
► April 1: New firms to pump millions into Elgin economy
► April 4: Siemens, Fabric Images expanding Elgin holdings
► April 5: Efforts focus on preparing students, others for job market.
► April 6: Tech now among basic business needs.