With manufacturing booming, Schaumburg looks to modernize 60-year-old industrial park

With industrial manufacturing among the strongest sectors of today's economy, Schaumburg officials plan to investigate the revitalization of a nearly 60-year-old, 600-acre industrial park along the southern edge of the village.

The Centex/Spectrum industrial park lies just north of Schaumburg Regional Airport and is bisected by the Elgin-O'Hare Tollway. The area is bordered by Wise Road to the north, Irving Park Road to the south, Rodenburg Road to the west and Mitchell Boulevard to the east.

A study of the area's eligibility for a tax increment finance district is among the projects included in Schaumburg's 2023-24 budget, which is scheduled for final approval Tuesday and will take effect May 1.

Schaumburg Economic Development Director Matt Frank said the goal of the study - and the TIF district that could follow - is to modernize the six-decade-old area, not reinvent its identity.

"This will still be a core industrial park," he said. "Market demands are a little different now."

A TIF district or redevelopment classification for the area could help convert underused properties into large warehousing operations that have become vital to the supply chain, Frank said.

"That's going to be the challenge for us - to create pockets of new development," he said.

Though all 600 acres will be studied, a consultant could conclude that a TIF district would not be appropriate for all of it, Frank added.

A TIF district works by freezing local governments' share of property taxes generated within its boundaries. As property values in the district rise, the additional taxes go to a municipally held fund to pay for public improvements and other eligible expenses. A TIF district expires after 23 years, unless the cost of its improvements can be paid off earlier.

Among other potential upgrades within the industrial park are addressing a lack of parking and improving ditches that collect debris and are difficult to maintain due to flooding, Frank said.

Valley Industrial Association President Kathy Gilmore said she sees great potential in the revitalization plan for the otherwise landlocked industrial park.

"I'm superexcited for them and excited for all the businesses within that footprint that are going to receive that support," Gilmore said.

Created under a different name 121 years ago, Geneva-based Valley Industrial Association represents more than 200 members, including industrial manufacturers and down line businesses in a seven-county area of Northeast Illinois.

Since 2021, it also has overseen the Golden Corridor Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, which aims to introduce young people to careers in manufacturing.

It's been during partnership visits to the Spectrum industrial park that Gilmore and the group's typically high school-aged participants have experienced the challenge of finding parking near the businesses.

Though creation of a TIF district is a lengthy process - about a year for the preparation and execution of the eligibility study alone - Gilmore believes the industrial sector will remain strong throughout the time frame. Even during the pandemic, manufacturing remained one of the most resilient and adaptive components of the economy, she said.

Anytime she might hear about one of her group's members planning layoffs, she'll hear 10 others announcing growth, Gilmore said.

Employee recruitment and retention are probably the biggest challenges faced by industrial manufacturing.

"I don't worry too much about manufacturing," Gilmore said. "Our group is very diverse."

  Looking southeast across Rodenburg Road to the Centex/Spectrum industrial park, where the village of Schaumburg hopes to capture more of the strong industrial manufacturing sector by studying the 600-acre area's eligibility for a tax-increment finance district. Brian Hill/
  Looking east along West Albion Avenue in the Centex/Spectrum industrial park at the southern end of Schaumburg, where the village may establish a tax-increment finance district that could generate funding to revitalize the nearly 60-year-old park. Brian Hill/
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