Elk Grove mayor on Bahamas Bowl deal: 'We're ready to tell our story nationally'

Elk Grove Village is spending $300,000 to sponsor a Dec. 21 college football bowl game in the Bahamas in the hopes of boosting name recognition and attracting businesses to town.

The game, which drew 882,000 viewers last year but more than twice that number in 2015, will be branded as the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, playing off the tag line Elk Grove Village has used on Comcast SportsNet Cubs game broadcasts and elsewhere to promote its massive business park.

What's the potential payback? Mayor Craig Johnson answers that and other questions posed by Daily Herald reporter Christopher Placek.

Q. How did you come up with the idea of a bowl game sponsorship?

A. We've seen a lot of traction with our media campaign during the Cubs season, as well as through billboards and other digital ads, but I realized it was time to move from our regional focus to a national scale. I was watching the college bowl games last year and I could just imagine Elk Grove's logo painted on the field. Working with various partners, we were able to make the arrangements with ESPN to bring the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl to life.

Q. What kind of returns do you hope to achieve from the sponsorship?

A. We have great brand recognition in our local region, but now we're ready to tell our story nationally. Businesses across the nation need to know what it means to do business in the most business-friendly community in America - Elk Grove Village. This sponsorship, combined with other strategic marketing efforts, will help us spread the word about what we can offer manufacturers, technology companies, entrepreneurs, precision engineering firms, and others in innovative and high-tech industries who are looking for a presence in the O'Hare region. This campaign dovetails with our recent groundbreaking for our high-tech 85-acre, 1.2 million-square-foot Technology Park. Our industrial occupancy rate is at an all-time high, and we plan to keep that momentum with this campaign.

Q. Is this a wise use of taxpayer funds?

A. Yes. Businesses that move to Elk Grove Village contribute significantly to our revenue stream. In fact, 80 percent of our revenues come from our industrial and commercial districts. The more businesses that move to and do business in EGV, the more funds that we can reinvest in our community while maintaining a low cost of doing business. Additionally, a higher occupancy rate benefits local business by providing deep local supply chains, saving our businesses time and money and directly improving their bottom line. Furthermore, Elk Grove has the lowest cost of living for residents in northwest Cook County as a result of our unparalleled business activity.

Q. Why did the village decide to launch the Makers Wanted campaign in 2015?

A. The campaign was geared toward manufacturing because manufacturing is the driver of our regional economy. Manufacturers are leaders in innovation, create high-paying skilled jobs, have a strong multiplier effect across all industries, and have a vested interest in keeping the community strong.

Q. Do you believe the campaign has been successful so far? How do you measure that?

A. The campaign has absolutely raised brand awareness with millions of media impressions and local, regional and national press coverage. We measure several aspects like traffic to our website,, and metrics around the various ad placements we use. … Spreading the word about the business community's success and the village's overall success is a testament to a strong public-private partnership that will grow for years to come.

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The new Bahamas Bowl logo features Elk Grove Village's "Makers Wanted" tagline.
Craig Johnson
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