Good or bad, bowl game gets people talking about Elk Grove, mayor says
For better or worse, people have been talking about Elk Grove Village after its unconventional sponsorship of a college football bowl game last year, Village President Craig Johnson said.
It's a marketing strategy the mayor plans to continue to promote the community and its massive business park, which he told business leaders Thursday is "churning like never before."
Johnson reviewed the bowl game, the new technology park under development, and the village's multiyear infrastructure program, among other topics, during his 2019 State of the Village Address at Belvedere Banquets.
"Whether you like it or didn't like it, we didn't care," said Johnson, holding a helmet from the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, which the village paid $300,000 to sponsor using its marketing tagline.
"Why? Because you're talking about Elk Grove. You're talking about our business park. There's any old saying in politics: I don't care what you write, just spell my name the right way. We want people talking about Elk Grove Village."
The village board in February agreed to renew its sponsorship of the bowl game in Nassau, Bahamas, for another year at the same price. While some have asked what businesses have moved to Elk Grove as a result -- Johnson says that takes time -- he says the national media exposure and marketing value gained was his desired return on investment.
"Maybe they come. Maybe they won't," Johnson said of company relocations. "But we got what we wanted, which is brand ID."
One significant part of Elk Grove's 5.4-square-mile industrial park is the 85-acre Elk Grove Technology Park, which is being built on most of the former Busse Farm between Higgins Road, Lively Boulevard, Oakton Street and Stanley Street.
Johnson on Thursday announced the first company expected to sign a lease within the planned $1 billion, nine-building development is a German aerospace firm, which plans to do robotic manufacturing.
"That company was being wooed by many towns and many states," Johnson said. "They chose Elk Grove."
Elk Grove 2025, the infrastructure program launched two years ago at an estimated cost of $105 million, likely will be closer to $145 million and conclude in 2026 or 2027 as additional projects are contemplated, Johnson said.
Public Works Director Colby Basham has started a comprehensive review of all 145 miles of village streets to determine their condition and what fixes are needed. His report is due to the village board in the fall, when trustees will have to determine how to pay for the additional work.
So far, Elk Grove has completed two new fire stations for nearly $24 million and a public works headquarters for $21 million. Station 15 at 676 Meacham Road replaced the 40-year-old firehouse on site that had smaller bays and a lower roof, while a new station at 700 Fargo Ave. consolidates the operations of Station 9 at 1655 Greenleaf Ave. and Station 8 at 1000 Oakton St. Firefighters just moved in, and open houses and ribbon cuttings are scheduled at both facilities Saturday, May 18.