Woodland, Warren school districts OK tax breaks to lure Akhan to Gurnee

Gurnee leading effort to lure diamond-film semiconductor company into town

 
 
Posted12/19/2014 5:30 AM
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  • Kristina Kovarik

    Kristina Kovarik

  • Mark Vondracek

    Mark Vondracek

Two school districts have agreed on property tax breaks for Akhan Semiconductor Inc. as part of a larger proposed incentive package to bring the technology company to Gurnee.

Board members who gathered in separate meetings Tuesday at Woodland Elementary District 50 and Warren Township High School District 121, both based in Gurnee, approved Akhan's financial incentives at varying levels.

Akhan intends to bring all 54 employees from Hoffman Estates and California to Gurnee if a deal is struck, with a pledge to create up to 80 jobs within two years because of explosive growth projected from manufacturing semiconductors with new diamond film technology.

Woodland board members voted 6-0 to provide a maximum of $172,000 in annual property tax rebates over five years to Akhan. Warren board members voted 5-0 in favor of a maximum of $90,000 over five years to Akhan.

Districts 50 and 121 are among the governments serving Gurnee that Mayor Kristina Kovarik asked to provide tax incentives for Akhan to bring its corporate headquarters, manufacturing, and research and development to a 120,000-square-foot building west of the Tri-State Tollway that another company is vacating.

"It's rolling now," Kovarik said Thursday. "They've got a sales contract (for the building)."

Lake County, the village of Gurnee, Warren Township and the Gurnee Park District still must formally approve proposed five-year tax rebate agreements for Akhan. Kovarik said she hopes everything is in place for a Gurnee village board vote in late January.

To bring Akhan into Gurnee, Lake County would contribute a maximum of $500,000 and the village $1.5 million over five years.

Documents show the entire package of local incentives would be worth roughly $2.3 million and come on top of $3.5 million available to Akhan through an agreement with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

District 50 board President Mark Vondracek said he and other school officials sensed they would support the tax incentives for Akhan after viewing a presentation by founder and Chief Executive Officer Adam Khan in September.

Vondracek said he backs the idea of bringing high-paying jobs and potentially younger residents to Gurnee.

"If it's a good direction for the community, it's a good direction for the schools," Vondracek said.

Akhan Semiconductor was launched by Khan in 2012 and has had a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory to develop a platform using the diamond film as semiconductors for the aviation, defense, telecommunication and power industries. It is a subsidiary of Akhan Technologies Inc., which Khan started in 2007.

Khan has said smartphone users would appreciate the diamond technology because chips with it don't overheat and use less energy than silicon. Diamond film also could be used to make the devices more scratch-resistant.

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