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updated: 10/23/2012 5:21 PM

Despite Nokia loss, Itasca leaders say business is strong

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  • Itasca will lose a 30,000-square-foot business that employs roughly 150 people when Nokia moves its Mobile Phones Xpress Internet Services group from the Hamilton Lakes Business Park to Chicago.

      Itasca will lose a 30,000-square-foot business that employs roughly 150 people when Nokia moves its Mobile Phones Xpress Internet Services group from the Hamilton Lakes Business Park to Chicago.
    Daily Herald file photo

 

Itasca will lose a 30,000-square-foot business that employs roughly 150 people when Nokia moves its Mobile Phones Xpress Internet Services group to Chicago.

But village and business officials said disappointment over the move is offset by Itasca's strongest financial quarter in the past four years.

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"While you don't want to see any one particular tenant go, you're always looking at the net absorption," Community Development Director Nicole Aranas said.

Nokia's largest office in North America is already in Chicago and employs roughly 1,200 people, according to a statement Tuesday from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office. Nokia has immediate needs for more than 100 additional employees in Chicago in a variety of skilled technology roles. Both efforts will push the company's head count in the city to nearly 1,500.

The Itasca office had been in a suite inside the building at 1 Pierce Place in the Hamilton Lakes Office Park. Pat McKillen, a Hamilton Lakes partner, said the site formerly housed Novarra, a mobile browser company. In 2010, Nokia purchased Novarra and left those offices in Itasca, bringing the group's total time in the village to about a decade.

"The move was a consolidation into Nokia's existing corporate location and we were hoping they would stay," McKillen said. "But this was the tail and the dog was downtown."

In a written release, Emanuel said the move adds to Chicago's efforts to attract jobs and grow business, especially in the technology sector. This is the 10th corporate, regional or divisional headquarters move announced by Emanuel in his tenure.

Chicago officials said Emanuel met with Stephen Elop, global CEO of Nokia, in August to discuss the move. They said there were no financial incentives involved in moving the Nokia team from Itasca.

World Business Chicago, a group that is shepherding business growth strategies for Chicago, will work with Nokia to ensure a smooth transition to the city.

Now McKillen says he agrees with Aranas that Itasca must focus on net business impact. Currently, Itasca has 900,000 square feet of sale or lease transactions pending for its final quarter of the fiscal year, Aranas said. Vacancies are down more than 30 percent from last year on industrial properties, she said.

"This is a consolidation, which happens, although usually we've had the experience of being a beneficiary given our central location," Aranas said. "But generally our experience lately has been good."

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