Hoffman Estates tech firm could move to Gurnee
Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik is seeking support from other local taxing agencies for a combined $2.3 million package of proposed financial incentives to a Hoffman Estates semiconductor company that supporters say could lead to a version of Silicon Valley in the village.
If approved, the $2.3 million local financial assistance for AKHAN Semiconductor Inc. to move to Gurnee would be on top of about $3.5 million available through an agreement with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
AKHAN's founder and chief executive officer, Adam Khan, said he intends to bring all 54 of his company's employees from Hoffman Estates and California to Gurnee by year's end if a deal if struck, with plans to create up to 250 jobs within three years.
AKHAN would bring its corporate headquarters, manufacturing, and research and development to a 120,000-square-foot building west of the Tri-State Tollway. Kenall Manufacturing, which has produced high-quality lighting products in Gurnee for 26 years, is leaving the building for a larger facility in Kenosha, allowing room for 400 employees and the creation of 350 new jobs under an incentive package granted by Wisconsin.
Kovarik led a special village board meeting Tuesday night regarding the possibility of bringing AKHAN Semiconductor Inc. to fill Kenall's space in Gurnee. Elected officials from other taxing agencies that must approve the proposed deal -- such as Warren Township High School District 121 and the Gurnee Park District -- attended the session.
Kovarik said she hopes to receive quick approval from District 121, the park district, Woodland Elementary District 50 and Warren Township government so the Gurnee village board can vote on the financial incentives for AKHAN at an October meeting. She said AKHAN would bring high-paying jobs and younger residents, and likely attract complementary technology companies to the area.
"This is a meaningful investment that positions us extremely well for the next few decades to be the area with the new leader in technology to replace today's aging semiconductors," she said. "Similar to Silicon Valley, we think this will become the Diamond Prairie."
AKHAN Semiconductor was launched in 2012 and has a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory to develop a platform using diamonds as semiconductors for the aviation, defense, telecommunication and power industries. It is a subsidiary of AKHAN Technologies Inc., which Khan started in 2007.
Khan, 30, a Gurnee native, said smartphone users would appreciate the diamond technology because it uses less energy than silicon.
"In terms of power efficiency, it's about 30 percent more efficient because none of that energy is lost," Khan said. "But above and beyond that, what it means is that during operation, that chip doesn't overheat, so your cellphones won't be the same level of temperature. They'll be a little bit cooler because the heat will be more effectively translated out of the chip."
To bring AKHAN into Gurnee, Lake County would contribute a maximum of $500,000 and the village $1.5 million over five years. The money would be contingent on AKHAN's performance, but the criteria were not made public.
School districts 50 and 121, Lake County, the Gurnee Park District and Warren Township would abate 50 percent of property taxes assessed to the new facilities for the next five years. Documents show the entire package of incentives would be worth roughly $2.3 million.
Gurnee Trustee Steve Park said the proposed incentives appear worthwhile.
"This is exactly the type of operation that makes sense for economic development," Park said.