College of Lake County linking with high-tech firm ready to start operating in Gurnee

  • Jerry Weber

    Jerry Weber

Updated 6/2/2015 4:41 PM

College of Lake County plans to collaborate on academic programs, workforce development and more with a technology company about to launch operations in Gurnee.

School President Jerry Weber addressed the relationship with AKHAN Semiconductor Inc. during a presentation before the Gurnee village board Monday evening. Before Weber spoke, AKHAN founder Adam Khan told the elected officials he expects his executive team to be operating from a Gurnee office this month.


"I'll just reinforce how excited we are about the partnership," Weber said.

AKHAN has worked with Argonne National Laboratory to develop technology using energy-efficient diamond film as semiconductors. Argonne announced last November it granted an exclusive licensing agreement for the technology to AKHAN, which is expected to become the first U.S. company to fully develop the process for industries such as aviation, defense and power.

When the Gurnee production facility and corporate headquarters are running, Khan said, the company will make a small diamond film "window" for high-powered lasers and other products for sale to the military defense industry. Khan said CLC will become an important source for the business.

"That's why we're so happy about this announcement of the partnership with CLC. Because before, these (AKHAN) positions were limited to those with engineering degrees or graduate degrees in the sciences," Khan said after his formal presentation. "Where now, parts of that functionality can be distilled down and taught over the course of a short duration. Where others, with high-school-level equivalency or GED-level education equivalency, may be certified and begin to fill these positions."

Weber referred to a memo of understanding between CLC and AKHAN. He said it was in March when AKHAN and CLC started discussions on joint opportunities to further workforce and economic development initiatives in Lake County.

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"Potential areas include, but are not limited to, entrepreneurship training and development, academic program development, customized training and workforce development programs, and joint educational programs and events in support of STEM," Weber said.

In education lingo, STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Weber said a specific agreement and plan will be forged later between CLC and AKHAN. He said the final deal would specify CLC's use of AKHAN's Gurnee space related to educational areas of the partnership.

Khan said the use of diamond film semiconductors, rather than silicon, means devices can be made thinner and operate at higher temperatures, benefiting smartphones and "wearable" technology such as Google Glass. He said the executives are expected to be in a yet-to-be-selected building near the Tri-State Tollway this month.

Gurnee village trustees in January approved what will be a combined $5.8 million in performance-based state and local tax breaks for AKHAN. Under Gurnee's end of the deal, AKHAN will receive a maximum of $1.5 million in sales tax rebates over five years.

AKHAN will receive the reimbursement only if the company generates sales tax, village officials stressed. The company plans use the tax inducements to bring employees from Hoffman Estates and California to the Gurnee company headquarters and factory.

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