Buffalo Grove trustee candidates get down to business at chamber forum

  • Upper from left, Joanne Johnson, Gowri Magati and Lester Oppenheimer and, lower from left, Andrew Stein and Mike Terson are candidates for Buffalo Grove village board.

    Upper from left, Joanne Johnson, Gowri Magati and Lester Oppenheimer and, lower from left, Andrew Stein and Mike Terson are candidates for Buffalo Grove village board.

 
Updated 3/2/2021 7:25 PM

The five candidates for the Buffalo Grove village board debated ways to make the village more business-friendly during a forum Tuesday hosted by Buffalo Grove Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce.

Incumbent Joanne Johnson touted the village's outreach through a business newsletter and, during the pandemic, staff visits to businesses, rebates on liquor and video gaming licenses, and the "BG Delivers" promotional campaign.

 

"We are now developing a website for our BG businesses, where they can state they are open for outdoor dining. It's not just limited to restaurants, but it's going to be open to all kinds of businesses," she said.

Incumbent Lester Ottenheimer III said the village has made great strides in attracting retail businesses, including Woodman's Market and the Shops of Buffalo Grove.

"Buffalo Grove has come a long way from where it used to be," he said. "When Town Center was first developed, everyone thought that was the great messiah for the village, and it was nothing but a bust. And because of our efforts, we believe that Town Center will be completely redeveloped. It will become the center that the village has always wanted."

Michael Terson, a former trustee, said that in his duties as superintendent of communications and marketing for the Buffalo Grove Park District he created the district's corporate sponsorship program, which has generated more than $750,000.

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"It's a complete win-win. It gets local businesses exposure to the community -- a very captive audience -- and the money goes right back into the community," he said.

As a village trustee, he added, he played a role in relaxing the village's sign code.

Trustee Andrew Stein cited his business-friendly initiatives on both the village board and the zoning board of appeals.

As an example, he cited his work to find a compromise between a McDonald's restaurant and residents living nearby over the shade of red on the fast-food eatery's roof.

The village board adopted his proposal to streamline the planning approval process by combining the plan commission, the appearance review team and the zoning board of appeals into one body, Stein added.

Challenger Gowri Magati said she would like to generate more business revenue for the village.

"I would like to work on why existing businesses are leaving the community," she said. "And I talked to the local businesses, and when I researched about it, my findings are local businesses have less incentives from the government."

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