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posted: 2/2/2014 5:30 AM

Huntley industrial park faces tough competition

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Not so fast there, Huntley.

As Huntley's fledgling industrial corridor attempts to capture a slice of the manufacturing market, it faces tough competition from towns with far more established industrial sectors.

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Industrial building, much like most other types of construction, slowed down considerably after the 2008 housing market collapse and ensuing financial crisis, and has only recently begun to pick up.

One strong competitor for Huntley is Elk Grove Village -- home to the largest contiguous business park in country, hosting roughly 3,500 companies that employ about 80,000 people.

The 62 million-square-foot industrial area, adjacent to O'Hare International Airport on the village's east side, has the second-biggest manufacturing base and second-biggest employment base in the state, Mayor Craig Johnson said.

Johnson said he is not too concerned about Huntley's industrial ambitions.

"We wish (Huntley) well in the development," Johnson said. "We've got one thing they can't compete against ... location, location, location. Companies want to be close to the airport."

Johnson said his village is ideally situated near major expressways, providing easy commuter access, and has railroad tracks running right into its industrial park.

While a majority of the buildings within the industrial park are older, the village has seen an increase in teardowns and rebuilds in recent years, Johnson said.

"Companies are willing to come in, buy an existing building, tear it down and build it to meet today's standards," Johnson said. "To drive 25 miles further west sitting in traffic is cost prohibitive to them."

Johnson said towns just entering the industrial market have a long way to go.

"We're a community that's built on businesses," he said. "They've got 50 years to catch up with us when it comes to experience in development and handling business."

Elgin is another competitor. Companies often are looking for quick turnarounds and can't afford to wait to build something from scratch, said Michael O'Kelley, vice president of the Elgin Development Group, the city of Elgin's primary engine for economic development.

"In today's world, corporations make decisions very quickly," O'Kelley said. "It takes a couple of years to build an industrial building of any significant size. Fifty percent of deals are done with existing speculative buildings. Having land is one thing, but having buildings is much better."

Elgin has significant industrial capacity available along the I-90 and Randall Road corridors, and several large speculative buildings, either already built or in the works, ripe for companies to customize and move into, O'Kelley said.

Such buildings usually have massive floors, significant electrical capacity, numerous docks, ceiling heights above 32 feet, abundant parking, and are built to house multiple tenants that require space where manufacturing and warehousing can be combined.

"Money is now coming into the industrial market," O'Kelley said. "They want to have product available. They cannot wait two years to develop a building."

Elgin also is developing a new, 80-acre industrial park on the southwest corner of I-90 and Randall Road and has more than 50 acres within its planning area earmarked for industrial development.

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