In St. Charles, for once, mosquitoes are not a nuisance.
Aldermen gave preliminary approval Monday night to a plan that would pay up to $275,000 in incentives to lure the headquarters and research and development facilities of global mosquito control company Clarke to the city.
Clarke now has a headquarters in Roselle and research facility in Schaumburg. The company, which is privately owned and employs 146 full-time employees, wants to consolidate those operations into one campus.
Corporate leaders are choosing between a site in Ames, Iowa, and a site in St. Charles at 675 Sidwell Court. St. Charles staff members indicated Iowa has already put up a "substantial" incentive package, even beyond what St. Charles could offer. However, St. Charles has an ace in the hole.
The president and CEO of Clarke, J. Lyell Clarke III, lived in St. Charles for 28 years up until a recent move to Princeton, Ill.
"Some people might know me as the person who has controlled mosquitoes in St. Charles for a number of years," Clarke said. "But our products actually reach about 300 million people."
Clarke pledged to bring an environmentally friendly campus to the city and give preference to city residents for jobs if a relocation incentive package can be agreed upon. He said his plans involve bringing about 71 current employees to St. Charles with an average annual salary of about $80,000.
Clarke also plans to create 15 new jobs and an internship and summer work program that gives preference to students in local high schools. It will spend $4 million to buy the Sidwell Court property and spend about $600,000 in improvements. Beyond that, Clarke said he thinks his company will be a strong economic impact to the city.
"We will be bringing vendors, suppliers and customers from around the world," Clarke said. "I believe Clarke Innovation Center is a catalyst to attract other knowledge-based companies. I'm hoping the mayor will call me one day and say, 'Look, I've got another company, and can I come over and show them your facility?'"
Aldermen showed an eagerness to have that phone call become a reality by not questioning any aspect of an incentive package crafted by city staff members.
The plan calls for paying the company up to $1,000 each time it creates a job at the company with annual salary of at least $50,000. The city would pay a bonus of up to $750 if the person hired for that job lives in St. Charles or a bonus of $250 if the person lives within five miles of its borders. St. Charles interns hired by the company would trigger a bonus payment of $100 per intern.
That incentive plan would last for five years with the payment amounts fluctuating during that time. But the total payout to the company from the city coffers can never be more than $275,000 over that time period.
Northern Illinois University prepared an economic impact study for the city that shows the benefits to it and the local area exceeds that total payout by a wide margin.
The study forecasts the relocation of the company will spark the creation of 84 jobs outside the company and the creation of $5.7 million in direct and indirect industry productivity and sales, though that benefit will be regional and not exclusive to St. Charles.
Aldermen must still take one more vote before locking the incentive plan in place. Chris Aiston, the city's director of economic development, said the company has already agreed to the incentive package and relocation plan despite the more lucrative offer from Iowa.