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Economic Development

If Rolling Meadows is any indicator, the lengthy national recession is over, according to Valerie Dehner, Community Development Director for the City of Rolling Meadows.

“We have been going gangbusters here, with a great deal of our empty spaces being filled. I have been here for eight years and it is the most development I have ever seen. In fact, in May Bisnow Commercial Real Estate News dubbed us as one of the top 10 fastest growing cities in Illinois,” she said.

This is hardly surprising because when companies, large and small, consider expanding or relocating into the Chicago area, Rolling Meadows is often at the top of their list of possible sites. Rolling Meadows is located where I-90 meets I-290/Route 53, putting it at the crossroads of the Northwest suburbs. The fact that it is also only eight miles from O’Hare International Airport, a true gateway to the rest of the world, makes Rolling Meadows a dream location for world-class corporations, as well as small to medium businesses.

“We have a great location with high-traffic visibility and a first-class, business-friendly climate,” said Barry Krumstok, City Manager. “But we also have a small town feel with great services.”

Since the city boasts approximately 5 million square feet of prime, Class A office space, the second largest inventory of space in the Northwest suburbs, convincing a corporation to open offices in Rolling Meadows generally isn’t a tough sell, Krumstok said.

Recently, for instance, Verizon Wireless announced plans to move 900 workers from its Elgin call center to a larger office in Continental Towers at 1701 Golf Rd. That move is expected to take place in February, 2016 and during the year that follows, they expect to move another 200 workers into their new 159,800-square-foot Rolling Meadows facility. The new offices will include a call center, social media team and chat group workers.

Verizon and others, including Panasonic Corp. of North America, Komatsu America Corp. and Ceannate Corp., are choosing to move into Continental Towers, expand their spaces and renew their leases because of the massive improvements being made to the three-tower complex by its new owners, GlenStar Properties.

Since the purchase, when the complex had a 50-percent vacancy rate, GlenStar has invested $12 million in updated lobbies, renovated tenant corridors and washrooms, upgraded elevator systems, upgraded building exteriors, new landscaping and new building entryways with improved lighting. A new four-story parking garage, to be built over an existing detention pond, is also planned, as is a resurfacing of the existing 2,550-vehicle parking lot.

The purchase and total redevelopment of the 11-story office building at 2850 Golf Rd. by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., the nation’s fourth largest international insurance firm, was also big news for Rolling Meadows. They are moving 1,400 employees to Rolling Meadows from Itasca.

Weichai America, a global diesel engine manufacturer which moved its North American headquarters to a 167,000-square-foot building at 3100 Golf Rd., is in the process of making major interior renovations. In addition, Bank of America has announced its intentions to take over three floors of the office tower located at 1600 Golf Rd.

“We expect growth to continue as people recognize what Rolling Meadows is. We are a family. We are helpful and very business-oriented with a totally different atmosphere than you find in neighboring communities. We are excited about every new business that comes in – whether it has one employee or 500 – and we actively help everyone market themselves,” Krumstok said. “Rolling Meadows is small but a very business-friendly community. We are willing to work with everyone and that is probably why we are continuing to experience so much growth.”

And the Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce works hand-in-hand with the city, not only orchestrating grand openings and ribbon cuttings, but providing business/community information as well. They are also another resource for businesses that are interested in locating to the city. Since they often receive the initial inquiry, they become instrumental in setting up meetings with the appropriate city representatives.

The city staff is also working on all fronts to improve local businesses’ opportunities for growth. Transportation via mass transit to the Golf Road area of Rolling Meadows is currently being enhanced by a joint project between the City, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in order to make the area more appealing to employers who need to attract workers.

“Sidewalks are being added, as are crosswalks and pedestrian-friendly signaling along Golf Road so that employees in this beautiful corporate corridor can more easily and safely cross the road for access to the forest preserve and the bus stops,” Dehner said.

Work on redevelopment of commercial properties within the city also continues. The new owners of part of the large shopping center at the corner of Algonquin and Golf roads are aggressively seeking ways in which to fill the vacant Sam’s Club by sometime in 2016. Bull Dog Ale House is also slated to move into the long-shuttered Chili’s restaurant.

In the downtown area along Kirchoff Road, efforts also continue, Krumstok said. A frozen dessert and coffee establishment called COMET is under construction at 3001 Kirchoff Rd. It will be modeled on similar stores in California.

“Clark Street Development has also been working hard to redevelop the Meadows Marketplace shopping center in the downtown with strictly commercial tenants, to no avail. Now they are throwing out the net a bit wider for other possible users and types of product. The City would like to see some commercial development on this site, but we may consider some type of mixed use instead of waiting any longer for all commercial that may never materialize. We hope to see some movement there in 2016,” Dehner said.

For more information about relocating or establishing a business in Rolling Meadows, visit www.cityrm.org; call Barry Krumstok or Valerie Dehner at (847) 394-8500; or contact Linda Liles Ballantine, Executive Director of the Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce at (847) 398-3730 or via email at office@rmchamber.org. °

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