In a sign that Itasca's efforts to attract new business may be paying off, village officials said this week industrial vacancies have decreased 20 percent in the past year.
New and expanding businesses leased more than 800,000 square feet of industrial building space in the past 12 months, bringing roughly 325 jobs, officials said.
"It's a reflection of the work we've been doing to make our community more business-friendly," said Itasca staff planner Grant Davis. "One big advantage is just where we are, five miles west of O'Hare at I-290 and I-355: that's really hard to beat. But our low property tax and sales tax rate make Itasca very desirable, as well as a permitting process we work to make very predictable and clear."
The most recent large business to move into Itasca's 4 million available square feet of space is Installation Specialists, Inc., which does office furniture installation. The company is relocating its headquarters and centralizing operations to a 149,000-square-foot facility at 1310 Hamilton Parkway in Itasca, bringing 130 jobs.
Such moves are a good sign for the village, which generated about $4.4 million in sales tax revenues for the past three years. Although revenue remained consistent in the turbulent economy, that's a drop from the $7 million spike Itasca saw in 2007 and 2008.
That's why village leaders have been working to promote Itasca, a tiny village of less than 9,000 residents, as a smart place to do business. It has been less than two years since Itasca launched its new chamber of commerce, while also joining the Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau.
In addition, the village hosts several special events and festivals each year designed not only to entertain residents, but to showcase the sprawling Hamilton Lakes Office Park at Thorndale Avenue and I-290, where Installation Specialists is now located.
Other recent industrial additions include trucking company Casini Warehousing & O.H. Rodseth's move to a 135,000-square-foot facility at 1047 W. Ardmore Ave. and Kester, Inc.'s 38,500-square-foot expansion into 940 W. Thorndale. Kester is an existing Itasca business that relocated 50 manufacturing jobs from Mexico to the village.
In addition, Millenia Metals moved to a 113,000-square-foot facility at 1345 Norwood. The steel distributor and manufacturer is employing 35 people at its Itasca site.
Village officials said they hope the trend will continue through this year.
"I think this is a sign of a broader trend we're seeing in industrial expansion itself," said Davis, "so we do think more growth will come."
"This isn't just an end for us, we are always looking for new initiatives that make our processes smoother and make Itasca more attractive to businesses," Davis said.