A family-owned Chicago business that has operated at the same location for more than 100 years is set to move to Des Plaines, after the property sale is finalized. City council approved a special property tax incentive for the V. Formusa Company, a manufacturer and supplier of condiments and other products to food service distributors and retailers, 7-0, at a meeting on Oct. 1. First Ward Alderman Patricia Haugeberg was not in attendance.
The tax incentive, based on a Cook County ordinance called a 6b, reduces the property tax obligation from 25 percent to 10 percent for 10 years.
Dan Wilson, seventh ward alderman, asked Michael Bartholomew, city manager, what was the history of granting 6b tax incentives in the area.
“Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy to have them come in, but a 60 percent savings on your taxes, that’s not small,” Wilson said. “That’s a big reason to move, and I’m curious, Mike, maybe you can find this out for me, what is the history of people moving every 10 years?”
Bartholomew said under 6b’s there is specific criteria that must be met by the applicant, such as purchasing a property that was vacant for at least two years. By approving the resolution, city council would be not objecting to, or approving, V. Formusa’s application for the incentive from the county, Bartholomew said.
“I haven’t heard of the scenario that you’re suggesting, but we will certainly screen the applicants, [the Economic Development Commission] screens the applicants to make sure they only make positive recommendations to you,” Bartholomew said.
Mark Walsten, sixth ward alderman, said other counties had lower tax rates, and this was an incentive for businesses in Cook County.
“This is an incentive to bring new businesses in, and I don’t ever remember not granting one,” Walsten said.
James Brookman, fifth ward alderman, said Wilson’s comments were valid, prior city councils had rejected 6b applications, and, while this application was appropriate, things did not always go as planned.
“We’ve gotten into trouble on some of these,” Brookman said. “On Willie Road, the 6b was recommended by staff, in my opinion it never should have been recommended. We ended up extending the TIF by I think 12 years just to make it viable to pay the bond debt. So we can’t just routinely grant these. In this case I think it’s appropriate, but 6b’s are a serious decision and we’ve made some mistakes in the past that have cost us and the taxpayers a lot of money.”
Bob Johnson, president of V. Formusa, in an interview with Patch, acknowledged the lower taxes in Chicago’s collar counties compared with Cook County.
“So we elected to stay, but we’d like a little help too,” Johnson said.
The proposed location for V. Formusa, 2150 Oxford Road, is an approximately 64,000 square foot lot with an approximately 25,000 square foot building, said Alexander Dambach, director of community and economic development.
“They’re investing about $100,000 in rehabilitation,” Dambach said. “They’ll be bringing in 14 employees, and they’ll be adding six employees.”
Johnson said his company had outgrown its current location, Des Plaines was centrally located for his employees and clients, and they were ready to expand.
“As soon as we close we’ll start moving,” Johnson said.
More About V. Formusa
V. Formusa has operated from its location at 710 W. Grand Ave. in Chicago since 1898, expanding from one building to five over the years, according to the company’s website.
Jeff Johnson, sales manager at V. Formusa, stated in an email to Patch, “My great grandfather started the business at the end of the 19th century. He was originally an immigration agent, but he quickly learned that there was a good market in his area for imported foods from Italy.”
Jeff Johnson said their business had grown in the area of specialty foods and mainstream condiments.
Bob Johnson said V. Formusa supplied major food service distributors and retailers with a variety of Italian condiments, dressings, oils and other products.
The company’s retail brand is Marconi’s, and is available at many grocery stores in the Des Plaines area including Jewel, Dominick’s, Joe Caputo and Sons and Shop ‘n Save Market, Bob Johnson said.
“We are super excited about the possibility of moving to Des Plaines and building up our business for another 115 years!” Jeff Johnson said.