DCEDC 2018 Accomplishments

Industrial Development

During 2018, DCEDC logged 42 industrial development projects and prospects. This is the largest number of industrial projects recorded in at least 10 years. Of this total, 27 projects have been initiated with new development and expansion planned or underway. These projects amount to a total of 664,000 square feet of development initially valued at $52 million, generating 1,079 jobs.

Target and 3M hired over 1,300 new workers in DeKalb over the past two years. The ability of the region to supply the labor needed by these expanding companies demonstrates that the DeKalb County labor market is substantial.

Target recently increased its employment to approximately 1,300 workers. The company converted its regional distribution center into a national upstream distribution center in 2015 and proceeded to hire new associates over the past three years as upstream distribution center operations expanded. It is noteworthy that the DeKalb County regional labor market was able to provide for Target’s requirements. The Illinois workNet Center operated by Kishwaukee College assisted Target with posting positions and conducting hiring events.

3M moved into their new 978,000 square foot distribution center in 2016. The company added approximately 350 new employees in 2017, bringing their employment to 950. Now occupying 2 ½ million square feet of space, DeKalb operations have grown to be 3M’s largest distribution campus in the world. The company receives thousands of 3M products from all regions of the world and ships to locations across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and some locations in Asia. 3M’s growth has attracted the following company to DeKalb:

CEVA Logistics leased 112,000 square feet of the 12101 Barber Greene Road building in December to provide international shipping services exclusively for 3M. Soon thereafter, as 3M’s requirements increased, CEVA needed to lease another 110,000 square feet of space. At the same time, the Barber Greene building was being subdivided by building manager NAI Hiffman for use by another industrial tenant and complications arose. 3M reached out for assistance on behalf of CEVA. DCEDC convened a meeting with the City of DeKalb – that same day – to sort through building subdivision and safety requirements for multiple tenant occupancy. The solutions facilitated by the City of DeKalb enabled both users to fulfill their occupancy deadlines. CEVA maintains the largest freight network in the U.S. to provide comprehensive freight forwarding services for domestic and international trucking, rail, water, and air transit, including customs house brokerage and door-to-door ground services. CEVA is headquartered in Madrid, Spain.

School Tool Box moved into 78,000 square feet of space on the east end of the Barber Greene building. The company appreciated the assistance of the City of DeKalb and was pleased that the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone could assist with the build-out of office and other space required to serve their operations. Rapid growth of their school supply sales & distribution business caused School Tool Box to outgrow their space in the former Duplex building on Page Street. They employ a significant number of high school students during the late Spring and Summer to fulfill seasonal demand ahead of the full school openings. The company welcomes the opportunity to reach both DeKalb and Sycamore High School students at the new location.

Panduit is planning to convert some operations to manufacturing from distribution. Just-in-time delivery of products directly to customers has reduced warehousing requirements for product inventory, freeing up space in DeKalb for manufacturing. Panduit is a global manufacturer of physical infrastructure equipment that supports power, communications, computing, control, and security systems. The company has operations in over 120 countries, employing over 4,000. The DeKalb operation employs 183.

Nestle – After extending its lease for 10 years, Nestle is now completing interior renovations after completing its exterior facade and parking lot improvements in 2017. DCEDC assisted Nestle and the City of DeKalb in surveying the need for a public truck scale to support carriers serving area industries. It was noted that Blackhawk Moving & Storage in Sycamore does operate a public scale. Others, like 3M, maintain their own private scale.

Wehrli Custom Fabrication – Wehrli has moved into the 300 Harvestore Drive building in DeKalb to accommodate growth of their high-performance diesel and custom metal fabrication business. The new 34,000 square foot building has enabled Wehrli to double the size of their operations. The Enterprise Zone program is assisting Wehrli with ongoing build-out office space and parking improvements to the Harvestore Drive structure and site. Proximity to I-88 is beneficial to Wehrli in providing easy access to Midwestern customers.

Unified Wire & Cable is completing a 15,000 square foot expansion to their Dietz Avenue building, adjacent to their main plant on Wurlitzer Drive in DeKalb. Unified Wire and Cable manufactures a broad range of wire and cable for the electronics, electrical, automotive, and military markets.

The Suter Company’s 85,000 square foot expansion of their 55,000-square foot Bethany Road plant in the Sycamore Prairie Business Park is complete. The company has been actively recruiting new employees to staff this significant addition. This investment is Suter’s fourth expansion during the past 10 years. The innovative company specializes in the production of shelf-stable snacks and fresh salads distributed by national retailers.

Ignatius Press has completed their office, publication, and distribution facility in the Sycamore Prairie Business Park. In addition to early and ongoing development coordination, DCEDC and the City of Sycamore assisted Ignatius Press in expediting installation and activation of telephone services so that they could complete their move and initiate operations.

The Sycamore Industrial Park has acquired three new tenants: Apple Plastics recycling company (20,000 sq. ft.); Glide Rite shopping cart rebuilder (25,000 sq. ft) and Innovative Growers hydroponic growing tables (60,000 sq. ft.).  The DeKalb County Enterprise Zone assisted with utility and infrastructure improvements to accommodate the new tenants. The Suter Company, Auto Meter, and Seymour of Sycamore lease warehousing space at the park and Dawn Equipment, Elgiloy, and Eggtoy Studios maintain design, manufacturing, and fabrication operations.

Custom Aluminum Products has completed a 34,000 square foot expansion to their diversified 350,000 square foot aluminum products manufacturing plant on Eureka Street in Genoa. Capital investment was $4.5 million, 25 full-time jobs were created, and 25 full-time jobs were retained as part of the project. Headquartered in South Elgin, Custom Aluminum has consistently increased operations in Genoa since their acquisition of the former AG Communications plant. They completed building expansions in 2015 and 2016 and currently employ more than 170 workers. The Enterprise Zone Property Tax Abatement and Building Materials Sales Tax Exemption helped leverage this capital investment and expansion. Custom Aluminum Products is a technically advanced aluminum extruder specializing in custom extrusions, fabrication, welding, bending, painting, anodizing, assembly, packing, and inventory warehousing.

J6 Polymers continues to expand their aerospace polymers manufacturing plant on Derby Line Road in Genoa. J6 designs and produces structural composite production systems for the aerospace and aviation industries, serving customers including NASA and Boeing. J6’s polymers and composite equipment were on all Space Shuttle Missions and are approved for Mars.

Polar Tech Industries is rebuilding a manufacturing building in Genoa that was destroyed by a fire last year. The company produces temperature-safe shipping and transport packaging products, including insulated containers, warm, cold, and frozen refrigerants and accessories.

Natural Polymers has purchased the 520 North Street building in Cortland. The company produces environmentally friendly polyurethane insulation systems used in residential and commercial construction. The 55,380-square foot acquisition will enable Natural Polymers to expand operations by relocating to Cortland from West Chicago. The Enterprise Zone assisted with building improvements. The project will generate 8-15 jobs.

Meadowvale relocated its operations with 30 employees to Sandwich from Yorkville. The soft serve cream manufacturer has completed remodeling of its three buildings, totaling over 90,000 square feet. Capital investment in this project exceeded $20 million. Meadowvale valued the Enterprise Zone program, which afforded considerable savings on building material costs.

Gord Industrial Plastics is now completing construction of office space after completing their manufacturing facility and warehouse in 2017 with Enterprise Zone support.

Sopris Concrete has completed an 8,400-square foot building in the Sandwich Industrial Park. DCEDC with assistance through the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone Program.

DeKalb County Thriving! Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS Plan)

DCEDC worked with NIU Center for Governmental Studies to coordinate the five Planning Committee meetings and complete the CEDS Plan Report, adopted by the DCEDC Board in June of 2018. Working Groups have been convened to implement the five CEDS Goals and Implementation Strategies. The Working Groups address the Five CEDS Goals:

  • Ensure DeKalb County has a talent pipeline that meets the needs of workers and employers;
  • Identify and recruit target industries;
  • Create a countywide business climate in DeKalb County that contributes to business success;
  • Brand and promote the “DeKalb County Experience” focusing on the county’s unique assets; and
  • Collaborate countywide to maximize the economic health of all communities in DeKalb County.

The CEDS Plan Executive Summary is attached for review and consideration. The link to the Full Report is https://dcedc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/DeKalb-County-CEDS-Final-Full-Report_for-transmittal-6.28.18.pdf.

More than 60 business and community volunteers are working to implement the Five Goals of the DeKalb County Thriving! Comprehensive Development Strategy (our CEDS Plan).

The Talent Pipeline Subcommittee completed an interim report and will be:

  • Design and administer a survey to all DeKalb County employers that asks about their talent needs and experiences. This information should be analyzed by sector to gain an in-depth understanding of the greatest workforce challenges and opportunities in the region.
  • Inventory agencies who provide job placement. Identify labor market services available to DeKalb County employers and job-seekers.  Assess whether marketing efforts and available resources are adequate and accessible to serve customers throughout DeKalb County.
  • Identify up to three industry clusters in which to pilot a multi-faceted talent pipeline development effort. The insights gained through the survey regarding employer workforce needs would be complemented by an analysis of the available workforce and an action plan for aligning supply and demand.  This would include identifying and providing needed training, recruitment, referral, or other services and resources.

The Target Industries Working Group will focus on assisting Northern Illinois University in the promoting the Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability, a research center targeting food systems, water resources and the environment. DCEDC will focus on innovative food production, food-to-table, food hubs, and distribution in support of NIU’s Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability.

Ina addition, the Target Industry Working Group plans attract and retain cutting edge industries and support start-ups in the CEDS Plan Target Industry Clusters:

  • Research, Development and Information Technology,
  • Computer and Electronic Products Manufacturing,
  • Creative Economy Industries,
  • Fabricated Metal Products Manufacturing,
  • Food Processing,
  • Healthcare,
  • Machinery Manufacturing, and
  • Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics.

The Business Climate Team has conducted two education and networking events:

  • An Economic Development Boot Camp was held with the support of ComEd to train local officials in business and economic development skills and contacts; and
  • The DeKalb County Small Business Network initiated a Home-Based Business Entrepreneurship Series: featuring Darryl Beach of 1803 Candles.

The Branding DeKalb County Working Group is has met with marketing and advertising firms working to learn about the process and importance of effective branding and brand promotion. The goal is to develop a Brand Identify and Marketing Strategy that distinguishes DeKalb County in the global marketplace to attract and retain business, investment, students, residents and visitors.

The Countywide Economic Development Collaboration Team is planning to implement Business Retention Visitation Program to focus on commercial, retail and small businesses.

Business Retention and Expansion

The DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) completed its latest “Voice of Industry” report on the health and outlook for companies located in DeKalb County.

DCEDC’s Business Retention and Expansion Committee completed 38 retention visits between 2014 and 2017. Thirty-two (32) companies completed detailed survey interviews that assessed their products and services, markets, and competitive conditions.

Participating industries also rated the business climate of the county, including the labor force, utilities, and community services. Data and responses from participating businesses were analyzed by using the Synchronist Suite software provided by ComEd.

Sixty-Seven percent (67%) of the companies surveyed indicated that they planned to expand during the next three (3) years. This represents an increase from the most recent reporting period, 2009, when 59% expressed plans to expand. So far, DCEDC has helped coordinate assistance for 11 identified expansion projects resulting in over $100 million of investment and over 800 jobs.

Overall, the report shows that several business factors have improved since 2009. These include: an increasing number of primary products offered, increased total company sales, improved production technologies, planned expansions, and improved public services.

Companies have also expressed concern over issues such as workforce availability and training, greater demands on technology infrastructure, and a feeling that there is a lack of public policy at the state level that would benefit business. These matters will help shape DCEDC initiatives going forward.

DeKalb County Enterprise Zone Administration

DCEDC processed eight (8) new Enterprise Zone projects during 2018 for the following companies or projects: Plaza DeKalb, School Tool Box, and Wehrli Custom Fabrication in DeKalb; Sycamore Industrial Park and Carriage House in Sycamore; Custom Aluminum Products in Genoa; Natural Polymers in Cortland; and Sopris Concrete in Sandwich.

Since the program began in 2016, 27 projects have been processed, including 13 manufacturing and industrial projects, 10 commercial, 2 professional service, and 2 contractors. Capital investment was estimated to exceed $68 million of which $36 million was new construction and $32 million was renovation. These projects were located throughout DeKalb County, including Cortland, DeKalb, Genoa, Sandwich, and Sycamore.

The Enterprise Zone was important in attracting two new companies to DeKalb County: Solotech of Quebec, Canada and Meadowvale of Yorkville, IL. The Enterprise Zone has increased the visibility and competitiveness of DeKalb County in identifying prospects and attracting new and expanded business investment. DeKalb County was selected as a finalist for a Toyota-Mazda site selection project in 2017. This would not have occurred without the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone being in place.