20 Aug 2014
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Industrial Businesses Come Out To Meet Morton Grove, Hear Plans

Industrial Businesses Come Out To Meet Morton Grove, Hear Plans

About 40 business people from Morton Grove's two industrial areas came to a breakfast event Thursday to meet village officials, hear a regional planning agency talk about future planning for Morton Grove's industrial areas and learn about resources and grants they could tap into.

"I think this type of meeting is good to help manufacturing businesses improve the business climate," said Mike Hoy, vice president of The Bogot Companies, a design-build mechanical contractor located in Morton Grove's industrial area.

John McGivern and Debbie Gradman of Strange Engineering, which makes high-performance components for race cars, said they gained an awareness of local government affairs from attending.  

Nicole Woods, an associate planner with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), a regional planning agency, explained how her agency is helping Morton Grove develop an Industrial Areas Plan. So far, they have assessed existing conditions and are working on the draft of a plan.

"The vision is to keep the area primarily for industrial uses," she said. 

The plan will support the village in developing a downtown area around Lincoln and Lehigh, near the Metra train station.

"Business people can go to lunch there, instead of getting into their cars," she said.

She said businesses in the area have a need for workforce development, which includes everything from hiring new employees, providing training for existing staff and connecting businesses with resources to help them accomplish those things. For example, she said, employers might be in the position of, "We have new equipment, the employees need training, where can I go?"

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The plan will also look at how well transportation, of both goods and people, is working for area businesses. It will consider whether there are more options for getting employees to and from the area, such as van-pooling, Woods said. It will also explore such topics as multi-modal initiatives and whether accessibility for trucks is adequate. 

Other key topics for the plan to treat include environmental sustainability and Cook County 6b initiatives, which provide tax incentives under certain conditions. 

Woods said CMAP expects to finish a draft of the plan by summer's end.

"When the draft plan is finished, it'll be available for people to review and comment," she said. 

Nancy Radzevich, economic development director of the village of Morton Grove, said the mayor and village board are envisioning a downtown area around Lincoln and Lehigh. 

The arrival of the new Pequod's pizzeria across from the train station would be a good step towards a downtown, she said. However, it does not yet have a set opening date.

"They have plans in for review," she said. "We want to promote more businesses investing in the Lincoln-Ferris TIF area."

The plan to bolster downtown drew some interest with attendees.

"I'm interested in the plans to create a village center around the Metra station," said Bruce Martin of Regis Technologies. "It's probably an unrecognized gem in the community."

When asked if it would help his company, he replied, "We benefit when Morton Grove benefits."

The morning's agenda also included presentations by agencies designed to help businesses.

Debbie Juris of the Morton Grove Chamber of Commerce told attendees, "We are your advocates. If something is going to affect businesses, we reach out to you."

She also cited a statistic that customers are 73 percent more likely to find businesses which belong to a Chamber.

Joe McKeown III of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development told attendees about a $2,500 annual grant they could receive for creating new positions that meet certain conditions, a tax credit available for helping military veterans who returned in the past 90 days and a 25 percent tax credit for smaller companies under its angel investors program. 

Radevicz was pleased with the meeting turnout. 

"We would like to engage the business district more regularly," she said, adding that the next outreach would likely be after summer ends. 

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