Centro de Informacion moving out of downtown Elgin
The nonprofit Centro de Informacion is moving out of downtown Elgin after 45 years because the building will be sold.
Centro is on the second floor of 28 N. Grove Ave. owned by PNC Bank, which closed its branch on the first floor in July and plans to put the building on the market in the near future, a bank spokeswoman said.
Centro Executive Director Jaime Garcia said the nonprofit will move either to a building on the campus of Presence St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin, or to a building owned by the city at 600 N. State St. Garcia said he hopes to finalize a deal and make an announcement at Centro's annual fundraising gala Saturday.
Staying downtown is not affordable for the nonprofit, which PNC allowed to pay "much less" than the average rent, Garcia said. St. Joseph and the city are taking into account Centro's budget, and both locations are accessible by bus, he said.
"I'm a little sad," Garcia said. "But it's come to the point where we don't really need to be downtown anymore because there aren't that many of the offices that we use to send people to."
The Elgin unemployment office closed two years ago, and nonprofits like Ecker Center for Mental Health and Family Service Association of Greater Elgin have long relocated to other parts of Elgin, as have doctors' and lawyers' offices, he said.
Centro's lease expires in November. The bank is allowing the agency to move out anytime and pledged to work with buyers to give the agency more time if needed, Garcia said. "They are being very nice."
PNC spokeswoman Diane Zappas said the branch closed because "customers are banking very differently today by using more convenient online and mobile channels."
Centro started in 1972 and has been in various downtown locations, the last 15 years or so on Grove Avenue, Garcia said.
The agency has received an unprecedented amount of support from the community following President Donald Trump's inauguration in January, and expects nearly 400 attendees at Saturday's gala, Garcia said.
There are new event sponsors this year, including Gail Borden Public Library, several Elgin churches and the Elgin branch of the American Association of University Women, Garcia said. AAUW and others organized "gift gathering" parties for the gala's auction, he said.
Sue Schulz, chair of the Elgin AAUW's diversity committee, said the group has stepped up its efforts to connect with the Latino, black, Muslim and Laotian communities. The current political climate "has definitely made our members more aware and definitely more willing to step up to the plate," she said.
Garcia said he and his staff members, and ultimately their clients, are grateful.
"Even though there may be some in the community that are not in favor of immigrants, the great majority of the community is," he said, "and that is a very heartening feeling."