Beyond the tagline: Living a brand promise and making an impact

  • Kathy Steele

    Kathy Steele

Posted5/13/2020 1:00 AM

The unique and powerful story of Elk Grove Village and its commitment to being Beyond Business Friendly is well-known on a local, regional, and even global level. From achieving a 98% occupancy rate in North America's largest industrial park to changing the way municipalities think about marketing with innovative commercial and sponsorship opportunities. One of the first to roll out specific relief packages and custom-built resources to support their businesses and residents during this unprecedented time -- Elk Grove's brand has never been stronger.

At Red Caffeine, we are honored to have spent the last decade helping Elk Grove's economic development team attract and retain businesses. Their story is a real example of how investment in a brand vision can set an organization up for success and meaningful impact in the face of any challenge.


Ten years ago, when Elk Grove Village embarked on a journey to be Beyond Business Friendly, the Village leadership committed on every level, using the tagline as an authentic mindset to approach policies, strategic initiatives, and employee hiring and retention. That brand vision quickly grew into an organizational culture that continues to drive the entire team, beyond just those formally tasked with economic development.

Fast forward to now. Faced with an economic crisis that could be even greater than the recession, Elk Grove has continued to act quickly, effectively, and in complete alignment with the needs of its business community. They launched two new web-based resources designed to support the many businesses operating in Elk Grove Village as they respond to and recover during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Within days of the initial Illinois shelter-in-place order, village leadership started collecting critical data on the manufacturing and logistics capabilities of its local businesses to identify opportunities to support the pandemic response effort. Not only were many Elk Grove manufacturers already producing components that are used in ventilators, medical testing equipment, hospital beds, and more, but several were also shifting production to manufacture personal protective equipment and other needed items. Red Caffeine worked with the Village to create a robust survey to systematize the data collection and communication with businesses.

As more feedback came in, many businesses expressed a need to connect with other manufacturers and suppliers on a variety of topics. Business leaders not only wanted to source and partner locally on manufacturing needs, but also connect with local experts for cleaning and sanitation services, financial and legal guidance, and workforce support. We worked quickly to develop and launch a business resource website ( featuring a searchable directory of local manufacturers and service providers, an interactive message board for business leaders to connect and collaborate remotely, and links to local, state, and federal resources to support businesses financially and operationally during the pandemic.

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Most recently, the village partnered with us to apply the same model to support a local restaurant, retail, and service businesses with a Shop Elk Grove site (, highlighting the companies that are continuing to operate and offer accommodations for residents who are looking to shop local.

With both of these specific efforts and the broader push from Village leadership to offer proactive community support, Elk Grove is building upon its already impressive infrastructure with resources that will continue to serve the community beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Craig Johnson recently commented in an interview with TMA, "We see [local businesses] as partners -- if they succeed, we succeed. If they fail, we fail."

In a time when all organizations are being tested, and some will not succeed, it's a real sign of community and commitment to a business-friendly brand promise that Elk Grove Village is fighting for the success of its business and community partner

• Kathy Steele is CEO and president of Red Caffeine, a growth consultancy based in Lombard. Contact her at

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