Hoffman Estates enjoyed a litany of economic development successes during 2017, most notably, the attraction of an Ace Hardware store to the community, according to Kevin Kramer, Economic Development Director.
“Bringing a hardware store to the village has been a goal of the Village Board for several years. That was the number one request we got from residents. We had been working for seven years to bring a store back to town since Ace and Menards previously left the village,” he said.
Village staff appealed to Ace Hardware’s corporate headquarters by phone and in person at the International Council of Shopping Centers trade shows on a bi-annual basis. The village found a likely location in the old Tiger Direct space at Higgins and Golf Roads, but they needed to interest an owner since Ace is a franchise business.
Fortunately, the shopping center owner brought Mike Patel, who had been a manager at the Skokie Ace Hardware store for over 30 years and knew the business well, to the table. He convinced Patel to make the investment and in August the new Hoffman Estates Ace Hardware store opened in the Crossroads Plaza Shopping Center, alongside Sherwin-Williams, Hertz, India House and Bombay Chopsticks. It is Ace Hardware’s first Indian/American owned and operated store.
“In order to make this deal happen in Hoffman Estates, the village supported the property owner’s application to Cook County for a property tax reduction and negotiated a sales tax rebate with the store owner,” Kramer said.
The village also saw Woodfield Acura build a new showroom at the intersection of Golf and Gannon, on the site of the old Dover Straits restaurant. The new showroom opened in early 2017 and the former Woodfield Acura became their “pre-owned vehicle” showroom.
In December a Country Inn and Suites opened on the site of the former La Quinta Inn near the intersection of Higgins and Barrington Roads. The new owners made a major investment to totally renovate the hotel’s public areas and guest rooms, according to Kramer. “It is always good to see upgrades and large reinvestments in existing properties,” he said.
The Hoffman Plaza Shopping Center at Higgins and Roselle Roads completed the first phase of redevelopment and now features a brand new Burlington store that opened in October, replacing a Dania Furniture store and a nightclub. The shopping center owners are now working to redevelop their out-lot properties with several new fast food restaurants, retailers and service uses.
“Manufacturing is another big focus for us,” Kramer said. “We have approximately 1,000 acres with manufacturing zoning, available for development in Hoffman Estates, many of which would be a great fit for manufacturing.”
Kramer and his staff are specifically seeking out “lean and clean” advanced manufacturing facilities using computerized robotics to get the work done in a cleaner and less expensive way.
“More and more manufacturers are “re-shoring” manufacturing back to the United States in order to be closer to their customers. They want to display their machinery in a showpiece facility that also includes offices and a basic shop floor,” he said.
“For instance, the Trumpf 50,000 square-foot Technology Center opened here in September with warehouse facilities and a showroom that allows customers to see machines in action and interacting with other machinery,” Kramer added.
“This was a big win for us. They make metal-cutting laser machines and then both sell and service them from their new Hoffman Estates facility. Since the machinery is massive, they do that service by either sending out a technician or by looking at the remote machinery using augmented reality goggles,” he said.
“We expect there to be other companies looking to locate in Hoffman Estates on its enviable property with I-90 frontage that is close to O’Hare,” he added.
In fact, Kramer is heavily involved in finding an investor interested in redeveloping the massive AT&T facility, east of Barrington Road along I-90. There is a total of 1,600,000 square feet of available office space distributed between three buildings.
“It is a great opportunity for right developer with lots of creativity and capital and we believe that that person is out there, looking for a property to re-purpose or redevelop,” Kramer said. “Companies aren’t generally looking for such large corporate office headquarters facilities in the suburbs anymore, so this will take some focus and creativity and it may end up with multiple tenants and multiple uses.”
Hoffman Estates is assisted in its efforts to seek new businesses and manufacturers by two local programs.
First, there is the Golden Corridor Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (GCAMP) program which Hoffman Estates initiated to help local manufacturers attract qualified employees. They arrange open houses for area middle and high school students and parents to see advanced manufacturing in action and also sponsor student STEM competitions and trips to trade shows like the International Manufacturing Technology Show and FABTECH, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event.
Harper Community College has worked with GCAMP, area manufacturing and High School Districts 211 and 214 to develop an advanced manufacturing program that now has approximately 350 enrolled, with potential for more than 1,000 students.
In addition, GCAMP collaborated on an innovative manufacturing internship program that has won both national and state recognition and has worked with local secondary schools and community colleges to support dual credit/advanced placement courses to steer students toward a STEM manufacturing career path.
Second, Hoffman Estates and four other local communities have teamed up to support a Business Accelerator program called Next Level Northwest, a charitable non-profit public-private partnership for the education and development of leaders associated with established Stage 2 businesses within the municipalities in the partnership.
“It is tough to attract new businesses so we have decided that we need to grow from within – from the businesses that are already established in our communities and have their roots here,” Kramer explained. “We are aiming this program at businesses within our communities that have been open for at least three years and are now primed for further growth. We want to help them get over the plateau that they may have hit and boost their sales further.”
Potential participants will be required to apply for a place in the program, then pitch their business and themselves to a community panel which determines if they are accepted. Those accepted will receive a designated coach who will assist them in devising a three-to-five-year growth plan with actionable steps in areas of need like marketing, time management, community culture, finances and so forth. The coach will then check-in and follow-up every six months to ensure benchmarks are being met.
In the second phase of the program, the head of each firm will be assigned a mentor who will help them build a stronger network of fellow businesspeople within the community.
“We expect the program to get underway in the summer or early fall of 2018 and hope to start out with one or two businesses at a time, per community,” he explained. “Eventually we hope to grow to the point that we are helping 20 businesses per community per year.”
Casual Eating Options
Hoffman Estates is awash in great places to eat. The parade of casual dining spots opening in the village continues, driven by the community’s enviable dense and diverse population along I-90.
Culver’s opened at 4635 Hoffman Blvd. across from the Marriott in late 2016, adjacent to a yet-to-open BP gas station. Culver’s offers its fresh, delicious menu on a daily basis.
A new Denny’s restaurant is now open at 4690 Hoffman Blvd. in the Poplar-Prairie Shopping Center next to the Buffalo Wild Wings. It will be the first Denny’s in this area to unveil the restaurant’s new architectural look.
Denny’s and Culver’s join a diverse group of quick serve/fast casual dining choices in Hoffman Estates including three McDonald’s (at 2270 W. Higgins Rd., 2580 W. Golf Rd. and 1070 Roselle Rd.), a Firehouse Subs (2510 Sutton Rd.), a Jersey Mike’s Subs (4610 Hoffman Blvd.) and the long-established White Castle (1100 W. Golf Rd.) near Hoffman Estates High School.
Additionally, as part of the Hoffman Plaza Shopping Center redevelopment at the intersection of Roselle and Higgins Roads, several restaurants are expected to locate in the proposed out-lot buildings in the next year.