Elk Grove hosts inaugural business expo
Elk Grove Village -- home to the country's largest industrial park -- is ramping up efforts to market itself as a community that's "beyond business friendly," as its new marketing slogan suggests.
Take, for example, the inaugural village-sponsored "Made in Elk Grove Manufacturing Expo" held Tuesday -- a networking event for business owners in town and for prospective industrial park tenants that Elk Grove officials are trying to lure.
The expo, held in a vacant industrial building at 1800 Brummel Ave., featured 88 exhibitors -- primarily manufacturing companies in Elk Grove -- and some 800 registered attendees from the Chicago, Milwaukee and Hammond, Ind., industrial areas -- regions that village officials are targeting in their marketing efforts.
"There's an amazing amount of manufacturing here," said Josh Grodzin, the village's director of business development and marketing. "We wanted to tell the story that we still make things in this country and that a lot of it is in Elk Grove. Hopefully this will expand and grow local businesses ... It's keeping what you have and adding some more.
"We'd love some of these companies visiting to put down some roots here," he added.
Part of the way village officials are telling the story of Elk Grove is through a new coffee table-style book that the village is using as a marketing tool to promote businesses and the community.
Called "The Elk Grove Book," the 288-page hardcover includes information about the village, from its history to its current amenities. It also profiles businesses in the community.
Some 4,000 copies of the book were printed in June by South Elgin-based Matthew D. Walker Publishing. The book was created in conjunction with the village's industrial/commercial revitalization commission and funded by contributions from businesses who paid to be included in the book.
Every business owner who attended the expo on Tuesday got a copy, and Elk Grove officials have also mailed copies to the top 1,000 companies in the Chicago area.
The village has also launched a website, egvbizhub.com, that's intended to be a "one-stop shop on how to open or expand a business in the village," Grodzin said.
The expo, book and website are all part of the village's strategy in business attraction and retention, officials said.
"We want to be known as the most business-friendly community in the country," said Mayor Craig Johnson. "The way to do that is reach out and embrace the businesses ... The more you can get your name out in front of people, the better your business."
The village's 62 million-square-foot business park posted an 8.63 percent vacancy rate in the third quarter of 2013 -- a major improvement from the 14 percent posted in 2008 at the height of the recession.
In total, there's about 3,600 companies in Elk Grove.
For many of the Elk Grove companies, especially the smaller ones, Tuesday marked the first time they were featured in a trade show. Village officials said the event was a way for local businesses to "connect, collaborate and cultivate new relationships."
"Some don't have the means to do this as opposed to larger companies going around the world for trade shows," Grodzin said. "It's helping our local companies to make connections and make those relationships."