Swedish manufacturer breaks secrecy about Naperville plans
The name of a business that wants to build a research and development facility in Naperville is a mystery no more.
SKF Group, a Swedish-based manufacturer of ball bearings, seals and lubrication systems, is the company behind plans to build a 130,000-square-foot research and development center at 1203 E. Warrenville Road, city and state officials said Monday.
"The project is spectacular," said Christine Jeffries, president and CEO of the Naperville Development Partnership.
"This company is an international powerhouse in their field, and a new research and development facility in the Midwest was what they were looking for."
The planning and zoning commission last month approved an annexation request for portions of the 13-acre site on which SKF Group plans to build its new facility. But commissioners did so without knowing the name of the company behind the proposal.
The company's attorney, Russ Whitaker, told plan commissioners then that the company could not reveal its name until incentives from the state were finalized.
On Monday, Gov. Pat Quinn's office announced the state has promised SKF Group $2.2 million in incentives during the next 10 years. The incentive will come in the form of income tax credits if SKF Group meets state targets for hiring and investment. An additional $20,000 is a grant for jobw training, said Dave Roeder, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
SKF Group must hire 40 full-time employees in two years and another 40 full-time employees in four years to qualify for income tax credits. Roeder said the company also must make $18.6 million worth of capital investment into the new facility, which will be built by a private developer and leased to the manufacturing firm.
Jeffries said city council members and Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger were told the business' name on Sunday.
"While they haven't been aware of the name of the company, they've been very aware of the project," Jeffries said.
City council member Doug Krause said he was glad to learn the name of the company before the proposal comes to an upcoming council meeting. The company is seeking approval of an eight-part request that would annex 3 acres of unincorporated land into Naperville, combine it with an adjacent 10-acre property and designate the area as office, research and light industry zoning. The request also includes variances to setback, parking and loading berth regulations.
"You want to make sure you're voting for someone that has a name," Krause said. "From what I know, it's going to be an excellent company."
SKF Group already has manufacturing facilities in Elgin and Waukegan, employing about 390 people total. In a news release, SKF President and CEO Tom Johnstone said the Naperville facility eventually might employ 200 people and contribute to research that will help the company develop energy-saving products.
"The Naperville-based R&D center will strengthen our global network of technical centers that support each of our key regions," Johnstone said in a statement. "It provides a central location to some of our most significant U.S. customers, proximity to many local world-class research universities and a highly educated workforce that is critical to our knowledge engineering efforts."