Leaders of nine villages in the greater Barrington area shared annual progress reports on their communities at an economic summit hosted by the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday morning.
The venue for the event was Barrington's newly refurbished White House downtown, the completion of which was among the major accomplishments of 2016, Village President Karen Darch said.
Barrington's local economy has been on the upswing, with 49 new businesses bringing 1,016 additional jobs to the village last year, Darch said.
Office occupancy is at 88.8 percent, retail occupancy at 93.7 percent and the village anticipates a 5 percent increase in sales tax revenues in 2016 once all the data is in, she reported.
Darch explained how the village opted out of two new Cook County ordinances dictating a new minimum wage and part-time sick leave requirements to keep the playing field for Cook County businesses level with those of the Lake County half of Barrington.
Among the best news on the horizon for Barrington residents is that the part of the property tax bill that goes to the village should be dropping by 8.37 percent in 2018 and 9.96 percent in 2019 as the debt for the village hall and public safety building projects is retired, she said.
But it was her revelation that the intersection of Route 14 and Hart Road would see a major improvement in 2018 that won applause from chamber members.
Deer Park Village President Bob Kellermann said his village of 1,100 homes is also doing well economically. The overall business vacancy rate is less than 5 percent while there's a waiting list to get into the Deer Park Town Center.
"Deer Park is the Michigan Avenue of the suburbs," he said of the shopping center.
Thanks to the business development Deer Park began to experience in the late '90s, residents still are free of a municipal property tax while $11 million has been spent on road improvements in the past seven years and more than $1 million on park improvements, Kellermann said.
South Barrington Village President Paula McCombie reported that her once almost exclusively residential community of just under 5,000 residents now boasts more than 200 businesses -- 68 of which are in The Arboretum shopping center.
South Barrington was able to spend more than $800,000 on roads in 2016 and the village is debt-free except for pensions, McCombie said. Residents are now campaigning for a Trader Joe's to come to town.
Long Grove Village President Angie Underwood said Buffalo Creek Brewery and Fred Astaire dance studio are among the new businesses coming to her village this year.
Audience members also heard updates from the less commercially focused communities of Barrington Hills, Lake Barrington, Port Barrington and North Barrington.
When asked about a wish list for the future, Kildeer Chief Village Officer Michael Talbett seemed to speak for everyone when he called for a state budget that would help lift the stigma from Illinois currently obscuring everything local communities are getting right for their residents and businesses.
Talbett also thanked Darch for serving as this year's Illinois Municipal League president, which he said makes a big difference for the representation of the greater area.