Gurnee has hired a consultant to provide economic development expertise to the village.
Village board members at a recent meeting approved a contract not to exceed $49,000 with San Francisco-based Gruen Gruen + Associates. Gruen's Chicago office will handle duties for Gurnee, officials said.
Gurnee Village Administrator Patrick Muetz said proposals for the economic development consultant were sought in August. He said Gruen became one of two finalists, participated in an interview process and won the deal.
"After going through this process, we felt Gruen Gruen + Associates was a better fit for the village," Muetz said. "They bring a wealth of knowledge related to business retention, attraction and incentive programs."
In September, Mayor Kristina Kovarik said Gurnee could not afford to sit back in the wake of a major business fleeing to Wisconsin. She spoke after the announced departure of Kenall Manufacturing, which has produced high-quality lighting products in Gurnee for 25 years.
Kenall will expand into a 354,000-square-foot facility to be built in Kenosha, allowing room for growth. The company received an unspecified incentive package from Wisconsin to move to Business Park of Kenosha just off I-94 at Highway 158.
With about 400 employees, Kenall plans to leave Gurnee in 18 to 24 months. Officials said the business intends to create 350 more jobs in the coming years in Wisconsin.
Muetz said village staff will assist Gruen employees to hold down expenses. Plans call for discussion of hiring a full-time staff economic development coordinator who would be responsible for business attraction and retention after Gruen completes its work in Gurnee. That's something Kovarik has said she's interested in including in the new budget starting May 1.
Gruen has served local clients, including Algonquin, Buffalo Grove, Glen Ellyn and Hanover Park. San Francisco Unified School District and the state of California are among other public entities to select Gruen for consulting work.
Kovarik said Gruen will be given a specific scope of work to perform for Gurnee, where village staff "is stretched to the max with the day-to-day operations."