On the evening of Thursday, September 28th, DCEDC held its 2023 Annual Dinner, focusing on celebration of the outstanding economic development career of former DCEDC Executive Director, Paul J. Borek. Over 200 guests were in attendance at Faranda’s Banquet Center, including community leaders, partners, and his family, to honor and recognize Borek’s leadership and achievements in DeKalb County.
Development partners and community leaders shared notable memories of working with Borek over the years during the dinner celebration. Borek also reviewed the growth and development of significant projects throughout DeKalb County during his tenure as well as recapping new projects for 2023.
Borek served as the Executive Director for 15 years (2008-2023) and now turns the helm over to new Executive Director, Mark Williams. DCEDC wishes Paul and his family the very best in his retirement adventures!
Thank you, Paul!
Please view a selection of photos from the evening here by Katherine M. Photography.
Coverage of the event by The Daily Chronicle: Retiring business director lauded by local leaders for transforming DeKalb County economy
New facility announcements in DeKalb County
On August 24, Kraft Heinz held its groundbreaking ceremony for its new facility coming to DeKalb. This new automated facility is set to be one of the largest of its kind in North America! The approximately 775,000 sq ft distribution center will bring 150+ jobs to the DeKalb County area. Welcome to DeKalb County Kraft Heinz!
Additionally, on August 25, long-time DCEDC member Waste Management held a formal launch event for the DeKalb Recycling & Disposal Facility renewable gas initiative. Thank you for your continued commitment to renewable energy in DeKalb County!
DCEDC Announces New Executive Director
DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation Board President Mike Kokott announced today that the public/private partnership has successfully recruited its next Executive Director.
“We are pleased to announce that Mark Williams, an accomplished northern Illinois economic development executive, has accepted the position,” said Kokott. “He has held a number of key positions in the region which gives him substantial knowledge of the area,” added Kokott.
Williams is currently Executive Director of the Greater Freeport Partnership, where he leads a team of professionals who are advancing business development, workforce development, tourism, downtown development, and community engagement in Stephenson County.
Williams’ accomplishments at the Greater Freeport Partnership include facilitating Intergovernmental Agreements between the City of Freeport and Stephenson County to develop shovel ready sites and expanding the Northwest Illinois Enterprise Zone attracting investment of over $201 million creating and retaining 633 jobs since 2020 with notable projects that included Nuestro Queso, High Point Solar and The Meadows retail center.
Prior to that, Williams served as Economic Development Manager for the City of Rockford, where he led the Economic Development Division within the City’s Community and Economic Development Department and managed redevelopment projects throughout thirty-two Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts, two Enterprise Zones and one River Edge Redevelopment Zone. Under his leadership, the Division accounted for 191 projects, generated $1.3 Billion in private investment and created/retained 6,145 jobs.
Mark’s accomplishments at Growth Dimensions for Belvidere-Boone County include leading the Belvidere/Rockford Region’s retention of the Chrysler Group in 2011 leading to investment of
$700 million to retool and expand the Belvidere Assembly Plant, retaining 2700 jobs and creating 1800 new jobs. He also facilitated the development and co-location of six new Chrysler suppliers, creating another 1,500 jobs and the construction of six new facilities totaling over 1 million square feet.
Also, Mark developed collaborative working relationships with Northern Illinois University in Belvidere and was instrumental in the establishment of the Northern Illinois Regional Economic Development District and the Northern Illinois Commuter Rail Initiative.
Williams serves in board leadership roles with two statewide organizations, the Illinois Economic Development Association and the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association. He was awarded the Illinois Development Council’s Distinguished Economic Developer of the Year Award in 2012. Mark is a graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
Williams is excited about becoming DCEDC’s Executive Director, stating “I’m honored for the opportunity to lead DCEDC at a time when it is one of the most highly regarded and thriving corporate investment counties in the state. I look forward to adding value to the excellent work that Paul Borek, the staff and the DCEDC Board have achieved.”
Kokott commented that “DCEDC is fortunate to attract a candidate with William’s experience, accomplishments and capabilities. We began a nationwide search in May and are fortunate to have someone with Mark’s skill set that also has knowledge of our region.” Kokott added that Mark has family in the area and is currently looking to relocate to DeKalb County. He is planning to start on September 18th.
Kraft Heinz Invests $400M to Build One of the Largest Automated CPG Distribution Centers in North America
July 13, 2023 – “Today, The Kraft Heinz Company announced a more than $400 million investment to build one of the largest automated CPG distribution centers in North America. Located in DeKalb, Ill., the 775,000 square-foot national distribution facility will feature state-of-the-art automation technology and national railway access, enabling Kraft Heinz to drive greater supply chain efficiencies and distribute its products to retail and foodservice customers faster than ever. The facility is expected to bring more than 150 jobs to the region.”
“As we continue on our journey to lead the future of food, our talented North America teams and collaborative external partners are innovating at a rapid pace to expand our supply chain capabilities,” said Carlos Abrams-Rivera, Executive Vice President and President, North America at Kraft Heinz. “The DeKalb distribution center is expected to play a critical role in our larger distribution strategy, moving more than 60 percent of Kraft Heinz dry goods in North America through our automated facilities. It’s a testament to the dynamic, out-of-the-box thinking of our supply chain teams whose work enables us to operate with greater efficiency and agility every day.”
“The facility’s design includes a 24/7 automated storage and retrieval system with the ability to drive twice the volume for Kraft Heinz customers, distributing more than 60 percent of the Company’s foodservice business and approximately 30 percent of all dry goods. It is also expected to contribute to Kraft Heinz’s ability to achieve its broader ESG ambitions to reduce its operational environmental footprint through the implementation of sustainable technology and solutions to reduce the waste produced at the facility and minimize its overall environmental impact.'”
DCEDC Executive Director Announces Retirement Plans for Oct 2023
“It is with heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation that we announce DCEDC Executive Director Paul Borek has shared his plans to retire in October 2023,” said DCEDC Board President Mike Kokott.
“Paul has set the county on a strong path for growth and opportunity, and we are now looking for the right candidate to take the lead and continue to build our economic progress and potential.”
This position is open for the first time in 15 years!” noted Kokott. “I encourage those individuals that have high expectations of themselves and their colleagues to submit their cover letter and resume.”
This is a top-tier opportunity in a community with a rapidly growing business base that works closely with local government and community members. Candidates with proven results who enjoy generating substantial impact in their community will find this a challenging, satisfying, and fun role.
The current Executive Director will overlap and orient with the new leader, providing an ideal transition. “We anticipate that this opportunity will generate a robust response from qualified, interested candidates” added Kokott.
The DCEDC Job Posting states that “an extraordinary opportunity is available in a county experiencing an unprecedented growth trajectory:
- DeKalb County has realized $2 billion of transformational development and economic progress during the past three years.
- The City of DeKalb was the first Illinois community to host a hyperscale data center, the 505-acre Meta DeKalb Data Center after collaborating with private and public leaders to create the environment where such mission critical operations can thrive.
- The DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) is guided by an engaged, highly supportive Board and Executive Committee comprised of top community leaders.
- County and municipal leaders collaborated in the creation and operation of one of most successful Enterprise Zones in the state.
- Talent attraction, business expansion and business climate initiatives are promoted through the distinctive Opportunity Unbound branding and communications program.
“I’m proud of DCEDC’s accomplishments and extremely grateful to the Board of Directors and membership for their support and guidance,” said Borek. “It’s a privilege to help champion recruitment and provide for an orderly and effective transition.”
Questions can be addressed by calling Mike Kokott, DCEDC Board President, at 815-766-9602 or emailing at email@example.com
Pritzker visits NIU to tout plan to increase Illinois’ higher education funding by 7%
DeKalb mayor says governor’s office supports plans for Metra in DeKalb
BY KELSEY RETTKE KRETTKE@SHAWMEDIA.COM
DeKalb– Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker touted his proposal to increase state funding for higher education and keep more students in Illinois during a stop Tuesday at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
Pritzker said funding higher education institutions such as NIU and increasing need-based financial aid opportunities for students will help curb what some have called a mass exodus of Illinois high school graduates leaving the state for college.
“Four years ago when I first took office, going to college in Illinois seemed more unaffordable than ever before,” Pritzker said at a news conference in NIU’s Barsema and Alumni Visitor’s Center. “Funding for higher education had been cut so badly that out-of-state tuition in other states was more affordable than in-state tuition for Illinois students. That’s a fundamental failure of state government.”
As part of his $49.6 billion fiscal 2024 budget, Pritzker asked the General Assembly for a $100 million increase in funding for Illinois Monetary Award Program, which would bring the total amount to $701 million and mark a 75% increase compared to the year Pritzker took office. The governor’s budget office has said that such an increase – when combined with federal Pell grants – would allow nearly every community college student and 40% of public university students whose household incomes are at or below median income levels to attend college for free.
The governor also asked lawmakers for a 7% increase in basic operating funds for community colleges and public universities which, if approved, would mark the largest higher education funding boost in 20 years.
Pritzker’s visit to NIU on Tuesday was part of the governor’s planned statewide tour at higher education institutions looking to muster support for his plan. Pritzker was in Joliet last month and was headed to a Rockford elementary school later Tuesday.
At NIU, Pritzker was joined by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including state Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore; state Rep. Lance Yednock, D- Ottawa; state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris; NIU president Lisa Freeman and DeKalb Mayor Cohen Barnes. After the November election and statewide redistricting, Rezin and Yednock’s territories now include the city of DeKalb. Yednock and Keicher also are NIU graduates.
In Pritzker’s 2024 budget, funds for increased higher education funding would in part come from his $2.8 billion Rebuild Illinois program to aid infrastructure at universities and community colleges, and an increase in MAP funding for lower-income Illinois students.
Pritzker said the majority of high school students who attend college elsewhere often don’t return to Illinois.
Pritzker said freshmen enrollment trends at Illinois public universities show an increase, contrary to overall lower enrollment that’s plagued the state for decades. When asked what percentage of incoming freshmen would quality for state financial aid including MAP funding, Pritzker said 48% at NIU.
The grants are aimed at ensuring those of median-income levels can attend college, the governor said.
“I would like to make it free,” Pritzker said.
Of that $2.8 billion in Rebuild Illinois funds, more than $130 million is earmarked for NIU’s Center for Community Sustainability and NIU’s Health and Information Technology Center.
NIU sophomore Brittany Hernandez, 19, of Aurora said MAP grants and financial aid were the only way for her to pursue higher education. As a first- generation college student, she’s studying to become a math education teacher.
“I am very proud to come from immigrant parents … who constantly
encouraged me and my sister to go to college,” Hernandez said. “On low income, I know they could never afford to send both me and my sister to college. I realized that if I wanted my dreams to become a reality, I would need to find a way to cover the cost of college.”
In an interview after the news conference, Hernandez said she’s lived in DeKalb on NIU’s campus since she enrolled and likes that her family isn’t too far away. She said NIU appealed to her directly because it offered her a substantial amount of financial aid.
The faculty and staff are what kept her in town, she said.
Hernandez’s story is one that officials on Tuesday said they hope to encourage more of by making higher education accessible to all.
Freeman said Pritzker’s funding proposal reaffirms his administration’s value in higher education as a public good.
“With an historic commitment to public universities it promotes access, affordability and opportunity for all Illinoisans and acknowledges the critical connections among higher education, social mobility and economic prosperity,” Freeman said.
According to NIU’s website, an average undergraduate four-year degree at NIU would cost $112,000 under the current tuition rate. One year’s worth of general tuition fees for a full-time undergraduate student cost $27,822, including $9,790 for tuition, $11,420 for room and board, and the rest going toward fees, travel, books and supplies and other personal expenses. Some degrees, such as full-time engineering students, are costlier, while others, including a nursing degree, are about $9,600 in tuition.
Pritzker issued a friendly plea to NIU trustees in attendance Tuesday, saying it’s important for universities to keep Illinois students’ tuition rates reasonable.
The governor said an increase in state funding for public institutions also would alleviate the need to raise tuition.
Student fees also go toward the university’s Huskie Bus line, which also services the greater DeKalb area in partnership with the city of DeKalb.
DeKalb’s mayor on Tuesday also touted Pritzker’s plan, saying it would help grow the local economy and NIU’s enrollment as the city aims to entice a Metra rail commuter train line to extend from Chicago to DeKalb.
“Here in the city of DeKalb, education is where we come from, it’s foundational to the success that we’ve had,” Barnes, also an NIU alum, said.
Barnes said NIU has been valuable in the application process for a potential Metra expansion. In January, the DeKalb City Council approved a $98,379 contract with Chicago-based Sam Schwartz Consulting LLC for the city to undergo a Metra feasibility study. The city also has taken other steps, including devoting a downtown lot to free parking for those wishing to take the transit bus to Elburn instead of parking at the Elburn train station.
Elburn bus trips also have increased in frequency.
“In initial results that we’re getting, this looks like a higher probability that we’re going to have the ridership that we need to make that happen,” Barnes said. “And I know we have the partnership of the governor’s office in order to help drive that commuter rail here because NIU is the only state in the university to not have that.”
Prolific 2022 development expands DeKalb County tax base, grows investments
Mega scale projects, local business expansions compose 2022 DeKalb County development
Paul J. Borek, Executive Director and DeKalb County Enterprise Zone Administrator
During the past three years, record investment has generated epic volumes of development in DeKalb County.
From 1987-2019, the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation’s public and private partnerships have contributed to attract $2 billion of investment in the development of 10.8 million square feet of industrial space for the area.
During the past three years alone, DeKalb County attracted $1.9 billion of investment in the development of 7.1 million square feet of space. More than $830 million was invested to develop 2,060,068 square feet of new construction, acquisition, leasing and renovation projects during 2022.
Mortenson Construction is building three additional data halls, increasing the size of the Meta DeKalb Data Center campus to 2.4 million square feet. That represents an investment of over $1 billion with operational employment projected to be 200. The Phase 2 project extends development to 2025 with daily construction employment ranging from 1,000 to 1,200 workers.
The Amazon Distribution Center in the ChicagoWest Business Center in DeKalb is now completed. The 700,000-square-foot building has been developed by Trammell Crow and built by Krusinski Construction Company.
Wehrli Custom Fabrication has completed and moved into their new 100,000-square-foot building at 231 Harvestore Drive in DeKalb. The building triples the size of the company’s footprint to accommodate rapid growth in the performance diesel equipment industry.
Cole Pallet has acquired and expanded operations into 300 Harvestore Drive in DeKalb formerly occupied by Wehrli Custom. The company specializes in the design and production of standardized and custom pallets using state of the art production machines.
Crafco acquired about 10 acres of excess land from CST Storage to expand and consolidate their multi-building Harvestore Drive operations. Crafco manufactures and distributes asphalt and concrete crack sealer products for the road building industry.
Mortenson leased 115,000 square feet of space at 711 Fairview Drive in DeKalb from owner Zilber Property Group. The contractor manufactures and assembles building and operational components for the Meta DeKalb Data Center.
Software company Bitcube leased space and contracted for electrical power to operate an Automated Bitcoin Data Mining Center at the DeKalb I-88 Business Park on Seventh Street in DeKalb. Black Box, a technology supplier to Meta, also operates within this multi-tenant building. A 13.7-acre parcel is available for development at the site.
Sunvest Solar is building a solar energy garden on a 23-acre South Seventh Street site leased from owner Jim Planey. A 10-acre parcel ideal for industrial development is available.
Industrialist, investor and developer David Huang of Elgin acquired an 86- acre site along Fairview Drive east of Peace Road adjacent to Interstate 88. NAI Hiffman is marketing the property for build-to-suit or sale for industrial development. Huang also is the CEO and president of World Richman Manufacturing Corporation in Elgin.
Greco/DeRosa Investment Group of Bartlett, owner of the Panduit campus in DeKalb, is marketing the southwest corner of Peace Road and Fairview Drive for build-to-suit or speculative industrial building development.
Classic Auto Factory acquired the 1600 Pleasant St. building, one of the former Wurlitzer buildings, in DeKalb. The building has been remodeled into a one-stop shop for classic automobile storage, service, restoration and sales.
Nehring Electric Works acquired two industrial buildings totaling 102,000 square feet on East Lincoln Highway from Ideal Industries in DeKalb. One will continue to be leased by CEVA Logistics, international shipping partner for 3M.
Phoenix Investors acquired the 1900 Pleasant St. former General Electric building in DeKalb. The company is a leader in the acquisition, development, renovation and repositioning of industrial facilities throughout the United States. Phoenix will focus on renovating and leasing space in the 265,000- square-foot complex located along Peace Road.
The Agora Tower residential mixed-use building by Pappas Development is nearing completion in DeKalb. The four-story apartment complex on Locust and Fourth streets contains 94 luxury apartments.
Silverthorne Builders is constructing a headquarters office building in the Sycamore Prairie Business Park to service its homebuilding operations in Cortland, DeKalb, Sycamore and Genoa as well as throughout the Chicago area and the Quad Cities.
Chris Mayer has begun Phase 2 of the BCM Business Park redevelopment in Sycamore. A 25,000-squarefoot building is being constructed to house fabrication of tiny houses. The easternmost buildings of the park are being remodeled for commercial office, distillery, microbrewery and banquet operations.
The Suter Company is installing new production equipment at its Sycamore May Street production plant to increase capacity to accommodate ongoing growth of its shelf stable and fresh food products.
Nighthawk Video has completed its acquisition and expansion in the Sycamore Prairie Business Park. Co-owners Ron Proesel and Bob Brigham are pleased that most of their video presentation equipment and technicians are back on the road serving the live musical entertainment industry.
Construction of the Syngenta R & D Innovation Center in DeKalb County near Malta is nearing completion. The 88-acre facility will include more than 70,000 square feet of laboratory, office, auditorium, collaboration space, seed processing, greenhouses and research fields. The operation will employ 80 to 100 science professionals.
Bayer is in the process of converting seed production and processing equipment from corn to beans to balance regional capacity in their Midwest network. The company has also made access and circulation improvements and will be adding new office space at their extensive Waterman operation.
Custom Aluminum Products is completing construction of a new aluminum production line at its Genoa plant. This 11,000-square-foot addition is the latest in a series of expansions Custom Aluminum has completed in recent years.
Owens Corning acquired Cortland-based Natural Polymers, a fast-growing manufacturer of innovative, sustainable spray polyurethane foam insulation products for the building construction industry.
KTL Trucking acquired and established operations at the Afton Township terminal formerly operated by Nestle’s fleet. KTL is headquartered in Carmel, Indiana and operates a terminal in Romeoville.
An unidentified development know only as Project Wildcat heads a strong prospect pipeline for 2023.
The development of a ChicagoWest Business Center site for the confidential food and beverage distributor was approved by the city of DeKalb in August. The project will feature an automated storage and retrieval system.
DeKalb County’s dramatic growth has produced a pipeline of development projects amounting to another $1 billion of investment in more than 2 million square feet of development, together with the pending development of 6,000 acres of solar energy farms.
This prolific development is greatly expanding the tax base and reducing tax rates. To learn more about DeKalb County’s competitive advantages, tax incentives, sites and buildings, please contact Paul Borek at 815-508-2427.
DeKalb County Marketing Manager, Katelyn Lancaster
Watch the video below to learn about Opportunity Unbound, DeKalb County’s branding and communication program. Opportunity Unbound has many opportunities from which to serve, and support. DCEDC is fortunate to have this important program led by Katelyn Lancaster, a native of DeKalb County, IL. Please call Katelyn to learn how you can support this essential program. (779) 212-2915. Visit the Opportunity Unbound website here
To follow Opportunity Unbound on Social Media Follow Opportunity Unbound Social Media here
Watch the short video below to learn more about this important program.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, tours NIU Research Lab
Photo Credit: Mark Busch, Shaw Media
Pictured: U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, Dr. Lisa Freeman, President Northern Illinois University, NIU CEET Students
Underwood toured the semi-conductor lab Friday at the NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology building in DeKalb. Underwood was visiting NIU to celebrate the university receiving$1.5 million in federal funding to upgrade its microchips manufacturing lab.
Click on the link to read the full article published by The Daily Chronicle City of DeKalb NIU US Rep Underwood visits NIU Research development lab
DCEDC’s Membership Campaign Kicks Off
Happy New Year!
As we kick-off 2023, we are pleased to share that 2022 was another remarkable year of economic growth for DeKalb County. Last year, 17 attraction and expansion projects yielding capital investment of $826,158,822 (2nd highest year in DCEDC’s 35-year history), and the development of 1,901,068 SF (3rd highest year, behind 2021/2020). Job creation since 2020 is more than 1100. We invite you to view Executive Director Paul Borek’s annual year in review report by clicking on the embedded link. 2023 Membership Campaign information here
Krusinski Construction Builds New Facility for Wehrli Custom Fabrication. New Facility Marks Major Expansion of Wehrli’s Operations in DeKalb.
Wehrli Custom Fabrication officially opened its doors to a new 112,000-square-foot warehouse, manufacturing and office building in DeKalb, Illinois. Krusinski partnered with brothers and business owners Jason and Ryan Wehrli on the design-build construction project.
The facility marked an exclamation point for unprecedented growth and a dramatic business expansion story after the business was started from a two-truck garage a little more than ten years ago.
“Krusinski built a great team who worked together to achieve our ideas and goals for the project and brought it to life. Working with another family-owned company was powerful since we are the same.” – Jason Wehrli
The new precast facility sits on an 11-acre site, which provides the potential for future expansion by Wehrli, which specializes in high-performance diesel upgrades, powder coating and custom metal fabrication. The building features a two-story, 12,000-square-foot office area, with elevator-accessible space on the second floor for future expansion consideration.
Project Wildcat (rendering shown above) will be built on the northside of Gurler Road in the ChicagoWest Business Center.
For the fourth time in fewer than three years, a major development that will create hundreds of jobs has been approved for the ChicagoWest Business Center (CWBC) in DeKalb.
The DeKalb City Council unanimously approved plans Aug. 8 for a distribution, packaging and storage facility known as Project Wildcat on 160 acres of property on the north side of Gurler Road between Crego Road and Peace Road.
The project will be built in several phases and Project Wildcat will total more than 2.1-million square feet, creating new community value that can be leveraged to expand services while lowering local property taxes.
An aggressive construction timeline has been set with site work beginning right after Labor Day, adding to the economic development activity happening in the CWBC.
“This project represents another very substantial contribution to the City’s property tax base and employment opportunities,” said City Manager Bill Nicklas “The ChicagoWest and Trammell Crow development team have once again collaboratively negotiated impactful terms which will positively serve the best interests of the DeKalb community for generations to come.”
Project Wildcat is the latest in a rapid series of project announcements in the CWBC, which was founded by the Krusinski Construction Company. Since the Fall of 2019, Ferrara Candy Company has opened 1.6 million square feet of distribution space, Amazon has nearly completed 700,000 square feet of distribution and sortation space, and Meta has deepened its commitment to DeKalb, expanding its data center to five buildings and over $1 billion in investment.
“ChicagoWest is proud to have put over a 1,000 acres into development since 2019 in the Chicago West Business Center,” said Jerry Krusinski, CEO of Krusinski Construction Company and one of the principals of the ChicagoWest Business Center.
These economic development successes involve multiple partners to create a business-friendly climate and include the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District, ComEd and Nicor, the State of Illinois for its support of critical infrastructure improvements, and the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone.
For Project Wildcat, the Phase 1 building core and shell is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2024 with the building fully operational by early 2025.
US Senator Dick Durbin visits DeKalb
Curran Contracting Company Projects in DeKalb Co.
Project Barb-70 Acre Site in the ChicagoWest Business Center
DeKalb County Landfill Garbage Cell
Syngenta Ground Breaking
A ground-breaking ceremony was held Wednesday in Malta as Syngenta Seeds, LLC begins construction on its new Research and Development (R&D) Innovation Center. The 96,000-square-foot center, shown in this computer rendering, is expected to be completed by late summer 2022
The above-captioned photo was taken last week at the Ferrara Candy Company’s Ribbon Cutting ceremony. DCEO full Press Release here