Innovation Park's success in Libertyville is erasing memories of Motorola's departure
Plans by Medline Industries Inc. to consolidate 600 jobs at a national sales hub in Libertyville is not only a sign of the company's success but also a milestone for Innovation Park, the expansive tech campus created out of the former Motorola Mobility headquarters.
Within the past 90 days, campus developer BECO-Midwest has added two new corporate headquarters, leased more 325,000 square feet and is moving toward 90% occupancy by the end of the year, according to Meg Grow, vice president of leasing.
"They've been on fire," said Kevin Considine, president and CEO of Lake County Partners, the county's development organization.
The recently announced plans by Medline, along with the additions of Valent BioSciences, Intermatic Inc. and EVBox, has helped erase the loss of Motorola Mobility. The tech giant took 3,000 jobs from Libertyville to Chicago in a stunning departure that concluded in 2014.
"In their place, we've got several growing very high-tech type firms," said Heather Rowe, the village's economic development coordinator. "We look to have continued growth at Innovation Park."
Maryland-based developer BECO Management Inc., which also operates BECO South in Charlotte, North Carolina, bought the 1.2 million-square-foot campus along Route 45 in 2014.
The company invested millions in repurposing the sprawling facility as a multi-tenant workplace "unlike any other anywhere," according to promotional materials at the time.
They appear to be capitalizing on that promise.
"When the dust settles, 2,000 to 2,200 more people will be working at Innovation Park by the end of the year," Chris Epstein, president of BECO South & BECO Midwest, said last month.
The comment followed the announcement that EVBox, a global manufacturer of electric vehicle charging stations and charging management software, was going to open its first North American headquarters and production facility at Innovation Park.
An EVBox spokesperson said that after looking at locations in 33 cities, the company chose Libertyville for its central location and connection to the rest of the U.S., ability to combine office and manufacturing, and a facility that fits the company's culture and brand image.
Grow said Innovation Park's customized amenities include pop-up shops that change based on season or demand. Other tenant-friendly features include wine or craft beer tastings, activities like mastering the art of gift wrapping, workout classes based on tenants' requests, on-site car washes and a shared bike program.
The experiences are crafted to appeal to a changing business environment, Grow said.
"We are disrupting the standard work environment in ways most wouldn't imagine," she said. "That's the secret sauce."
Innovation park offers a modern and fun environment employees are seeking, Considine said.
"You only have to see it to understand why" Innovation Park is successful, he said.
Considine said the perceived desire of millennials to be downtown is changing, as the group ages and starts building careers and families.
That's evident in Lake County, which is the largest reverse community area in Metra's system, he said. For every four Milwaukee District North Line riders to Chicago, three are reverse commuting, according to Considine.