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Elk Grove Village Technology

Once upon a time, many years ago, Illinois consisted entirely of open fields and farmlands.

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What now stands as one of the brightest cities in the world, Chicago, simply stood as fertile ground near the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Prime for travel, the land eventually developed into an industrial town and grew into an urban hub in the heart of the U.S. Of course, over time, businesses outgrew the increasingly limited space Chicago offered and began moving out toward the suburbs.

One of those suburbs, Elk Grove, eventually welcomed residents and businesses with such success that it now houses the largest contiguous industrial park in North America, comprising five-square-miles of the village's 10-square-mile total.Even now, that industrial hub continues to thrive.

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Elk Grove can attribute a bit of its industrial park's success on the limitations of its much larger neighbor to the east. Such was the case with Arrow Plastics, a resident of Elk Grove for the last 30 years. Bob Kleckaukas, employee of Arrow and a Chamber member, relates, “We were in Chicago, and we needed more space. So we moved onto farmland in Elk Grove.” As a result, Arrow Plastics converted that farmland into its major manufacturing center, producing 95 percent of its wares in the village. Instead of producing corn or other farming products, Elk Grove, thanks to Arrow Plastics, now produced small plastic housewares, refillable water bottles and glass tabletops.

Fortunately for the community, Arrow Plastics would not be alone in its move toward Elk Grove. In an effort to help shepherd in industrial growth, the village has already worked toward a 10-year revitalization initiative for the industrial park. “We've already spent $40 million in the business park,” says Mayor Craig Johnson, “and we're five years ahead of schedule.”

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Updates for the area have included four-way intersections with two turning lanes, new bus stop shelters, updated street signs and lighting and beautification in the form of parks. Currently, the industrial park houses an astonishing 3,600 businesses. From those businesses, 1,600 function as warehouses and carry out distribution, an impressive 1,300 provide retail options, with a remaining 700 or so involved in manufacturing. Whether seeking out a place for accommodating a large business' storage needs, needing a vast enough expanse to produce goods or simply looking for a place to spend some disposable income, Elk Grove's industrial park offers a plethora of options.

Despite being five years ahead of schedule, Mayor Johnson and Elk Grove refuse to rest on their laurels and hope to bring in even more industry to the area. Buildings worth $10 million that may have sufficed in another area have plans for demolition so that businesses may construct $100 million buildings outfitted in the best technology and prime access to the revitalized park areas may spring up in their stead. For further improvement, Nancy Carlson of the Chamber of Commerce said, “The village is seeking to develop a Comprehensive Master Plan update, which will establish a framework for the continuation of the Industrial Commercial Revitalization Program for the next 10 years.” Using an outside consultant to help guide the update, the village seeks to find even more new ways to improve, as well as documenting the success of the plan so far.

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Some of the new business moving into Elk Grove comes in the form of ventures other than manufacturers, such as Citigroup. During the spring of 2007, Citigroup opened the doors to its Citi Cards Center in Elk Grove. Proving itself to be conscious of the times, Citigroup has made a conscious effort to work toward thinking green and providing an environmentally sustainable workplace. Commenting on the facility, Vik Atal, Chairman and CEO of Citi Cards said, “It's a core competency of Citi to grow in a cost-efficient and customer-focused way and this new facility is a good example of that.” Citigroup, and other businesses like it, exemplify the tremendous growth Elk Grove continues to experience into the new millennium and beyond.

Bringing in data centers into the community has also made Elk Grove fertile ground for continued development. Most communities vie for just one data center because of the fiber optics and other cutting-edge technology they bring into the area to provide services more efficiently.

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Elk Grove, however, is prepared to welcome its ninth data center into the area, enhancing the future of the town for its potential industrial advances and helping to provide for the future of its children with access to technology as it develops.

Chicago, like so many American metropolitan areas before it, grew out of ideal farmland and into a lively home for the best contemporary industry has to offer. Eventually, though, Chicago grew too crowded for the dreamers within it, and they sought out a place farther from the urban epicenter to set up shop. For many, then and now, Elk Grove has become that place. Renovations continue to make it a perfect location for the dreamers of tomorrow to build. Out of the fertile farmland, Elk Grove has managed to build its own center for technology and industry, and the wise would look to it preparing to glimpse premonitions of what is to come.

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