Illinois: Renewing The Midwest

Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) is attracting a number of renewable energy companies looking to reap the benefits of the legislation.

By the BF Staff
From the September/October 2018 Issue

In June 2017 Illinois created legislation designed to stimulate job creation in clean energy, assist in a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and promote energy efficiency. This Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) created a budget for utilities to purchase renewable energy credits while also establishing programs and incentives to spur the development of solar installations.

Archer Daniels Midland is constructing a new $160-million flour mill in Mendota, IL. (Photo: Village of Arlington Heights)

Illinois’ RPS commits the state to get 25 percent of their retail power from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2025 and FEJA mandates the state add 2,800 megawatts (MW) of new solar energy by 2030 (enough to power about 450,000 homes). Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) form the basis of the Act.

FEJA already has attracted a number of companies to the state and caused others to expand. Renewable energy developers are looking to build dozens of solar farms to feed the electric grids of Commonwealth Edison and other utilities.

FEJA helps fund community gardens which are expected to account for 25 percent of the renewable energy credits. The community garden model has consumers pay for a subscription to the solar service and receive a credit for their share of the output on their monthly electric bill. Any ComEd customer can subscribe to any solar garden within the utility’s service territory. In addition, utility-scale projects (larger than 2 megawatts) must bid to sell their energy to ComEd, Ameren or MidAmerican. These projects are targeted to account for 40 percent of renewable energy credits.


Arlington Heights is a growing, thriving community just northwest of Chicago, home to nearly 76,000 residents with an average household income of over $100,000. One of the largest business communities in the Chicago area, Arlington Heights is home to nearly 3,000 for-profit companies, employing over 40,000 workers.

Arlington Heights’ position in the Chicago market is second-to-none. Two Metra commuter rail stations link it to Downtown Chicago and a host of other northwest suburban municipalities, hosting one of the Metra’s most traversed stations with over 2,300 daily boardings. The community also is served by three interstate highways: I-90, I-290 and I-355, and conveniently located only 10 miles from O’Hare International Airport and five miles from Chicago Executive Airport. Connectivity to three interstate highways allows Arlington Heights incomparable positioning within the Chicago metropolitan area and access to logistics by air and ground transport.

Arlington Heights is a great corporate destination. In 2016, HSBC relocated its North American headquarters to the community, bringing 1,500 jobs and re-occupying over 160,000 square feet of formerly vacant space. Other major companies such as GE Healthcare, Northrop Grumman, AT&T and Paddock Publications (which publishes The Daily Herald, one of America’s 75 largest newspapers by circulation) employ hundreds within the community.

Retail also thrives in Arlington Heights. In 2017, the community conducted over $1.2 billion in retail sales. Rapidly-growing grocery chain Mariano’s, which now boasts over 30 locations throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area, opened its very first store here. Arlington Heights also is an attractive location for industry. In early 2015, SVM, a producer of gift and rewards cards for major corporations worldwide, opened their new international headquarters in Arlington Heights.

Other established businesses continue to call Arlington Heights home. Arlington International Racecourse is one of the world’s premiere horse racing venues. It has been the home of the Arlington Million, one of thoroughbred racing’s richest events, since 1981. The race track also is home to Ditka’s Restaurant. Co-owned by NFL legend and Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Ditka, this is the fine-dining restaurant’s third Chicagoland location. Mitsuwa Marketplace is the largest Japanese grocery store in the Midwest, serving as a destination for patrons throughout the Chicago area and servicing a large tourist population.

Arlington Heights remains a target of significant development. The Arlington Downs project is a new and exciting addition to the Chicago market. When complete, the $250 million mixed-use development will boast nearly 1,000 residential units, a 115-room hotel and also retail, restaurant and entertainment space. Set on over 27 acres of land just west of Arlington International Racecourse, the development has immediate access to IL-53 and will be a unique Chicagoland destination. Arlington Downs is being developed in phases. The first phase, One Arlington Apartments, was recently completed and hosts 25N Coworking a 15,000 square foot private and shared workspace venue.

As part of the community’s efforts to grow and support commerce and industry, Arlington Heights offers a Zero Interest Loan program available to both new and existing businesses. Interested business or property owners can apply for an interest-free of loan of up to half their project cost, capping at $20,000. Eligible expenses range from the purchase of new equipment to technology upgrades to improvements of existing facilities. Retailers are also eligible for the Small Business Sales Tax Rebate program. New and growing retailers in Arlington Heights can receive a rebate of up to 50 percent of the local sales tax that they generate to reinvest in their business.

Arlington Heights offers an exceptional quality of life. Its high school students attend six of the State’s top 40 public high schools, according to U.S. News & World Reports. Robert Morris University offers a satellite campus in the community as well. The Arlington Heights Memorial Library is regularly ranked among the nation’s best public libraries for its size and has been given “five stars” by Library Journal, the publication’s highest rating. The community also is served by the Arlington Heights Park District and its 50+ public parks, as well as Northwest Community Hospital which continues to expand its operations and services.

Arlington Heights features a unique, vibrant and award-winning Downtown offering an enticing urban lifestyle with high-rise living and more than two dozen shops and boutiques. It is home to nearly 40 one-of-a-kind ethnic and themed restaurants. Downtown Arlington Heights also is a Chicago area destination for entertainment, hosting outdoor concerts and year-round events. Community venues CMX Theaters and Big Shot Piano Lounge, a great spot for live music in a classy and cozy environment, provide great entertainment. The Metropolis Performing Arts Center offers top-notch concerts, comedy and live theater in an intimate setting. Additionally, Hey Nonny is opening a 160-seat music venue in fall 2018, featuring live acts six nights a week.

More exciting development continues with the construction of Parkview Apartments. This development will feature 45 apartments with 60 indoor parking spaces and first floor retail space, and will be completed this fall.

With an exceptional quality of life, wealth of amenities and unparalleled access throughout the Chicago area, Arlington Heights is primed to continue to grow and thrive. For more information on Arlington Heights, Illinois, please contact Michael Mertes at (847) 368-5220, or visit


Just 90 minutes from Chicago, North Central Illinois (the three-county region at the Interstate 80-39 Corridor) is a dynamic business location for new industrial development projects in the Midwest. Foreign and domestic companies are making major investments in this Interstate corridor which already boasts 350 manufacturers and 7,000 companies.

With unequaled multimodal transportation advantages, this region of Illinois is the Top Logistics Center in North America, where Chicago Metro ranks as the number one business expansion location in the USA. North Central Illinois (population 154,000) also is one of the top 40 micropolitan areas for Industrial Expansion and Investment in the nation.

Mexican industrial corporation, Xignux, has completed acquisition of American Bare Conductor in La Salle (North Central Illinois) and will be adding 100 employees to the current workforce of 41 by 2019. The 290,000-square-foot LaSalle facility is now part of Xignux’ Viakable CME Wire & Cable division (VKMUSA) manufacturing electric wire and cable. Xignux is an industrial consortium based in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico which employs more than 20,000 people worldwide.

“We are happy to be in La Salle and grow our business in the Illinois Valley,” stated Adolfo Riveron, chief executive officer of Viakable La Salle.

The North Central Illinois region already boasts 62 foreign owned manufacturing operations. Intersect Illinois, the State Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and North Central Illinois EDC are actively promoting more foreign direct manufacturing investment in Illinois. This job-creating acquisition by Xignux demonstrates the profit-making advantages of Illinois, which is the fifth largest state for foreign direct investment.

Fortune 200 company, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) will soon be opening a newly constructed $160 million flour milling facility off the BNSF Mainline Railroad in Mendota (North Central Illinois). The mill will employ at least 60 people and grind different varieties of wheat in order to meet the demand of bakers throughout the Midwest. ADM operates five facilities in North Central Illinois.

“We are able to meet ongoing demand growth, drive efficiencies, use new technologies and leverage our capabilities. We are pleased to continue investing here,” said Mark Kolkhorst, President of ADM Milling.

German firm, Fliegl Agrartechnik, the largest manufacturer of agricultural trailers worldwide, has relocated its North American headquarters operations from Elkhart, WI to North Central Illinois (Utica, IL) to serve dealers and customers more efficiently. Fliegl is investing in expanding its presence in the North American market. The Utica facility increases the capability to maintain the demand Fliegl is seeing with their steady growth in North America.

Fliegl produces push-off trailers, dump trailers, manure tankers and provides solutions for the transport and forestry technology. Currently, Fliegl has 29 locations in 20 different countries and employs over 1,000 people worldwide. The German company has its headquarters in Mühldorf, Bavaria.

Other major recent manufacturing expansions included Diversifoam Products, Northern White Sands, Starved Rock Wood Products and U.S. Silica, all resulting in the creation of nearly 200 new jobs. The successful connection between Metro Chicago and the Interstate-80-39 Corridor of North Central Illinois, provides a profit-making opportunity for hundreds of manufacturing, technology and distribution companies.

“This continuing industrial growth demonstrates the strength of our region for business investment,” said Jim Riley, chairman of the North Central Illinois Economic Development Corporation (NCI).

North Central Illinois is a 2,200-square-mile region with a workforce of 410,000 people. Major distribution centers for Ace Hardware, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, JC Whitney, SuperValu Foods and Pet Smart are utilizing the advantages of an interstate highway network close to Chicago and an available workforce.

Mark Peterson, President of Intersect Illinois, said “the North Central Illinois EDC (NCI) is doing what needs to be done…being focused on competing and marketing the region for new business and new good paying jobs. Intersect Illinois and our partners like NCI, know that Illinois is the largest economy in the Midwest and a business powerhouse. We are not afraid to fight for new business investment,” he said.

Hundreds of diverse manufacturers in North Central Illinois combine the intermodal advantages of highway, rail, air and navigable river transportation with a cost-saving business climate to serve customers around the world. The largest inland port in North America is accessible nearby.

“This area’s location, logistics, tax base and business climate are important for our success,” said David Mennie, president of Mennie Machine. “We ship worldwide, so cost-saving advantages here in North Central Illinois make a difference.”

Corporate executives, top brokers and major developers are discovering profit-making advantages in North Central Illinois. Active members of SIOR, CoreNet Global, AIRE-Brokers and Site Selectors Guild are utilizing this information to help serve their clients. For more information on the region, check out the website or call (815) 224-0645.


Nestled in Chicago’s prominent northwest suburbs, the Village of Wheeling, Illinois, is home to over 800 businesses, leading manufacturers and a fast-growing residential market. A diverse and dynamic community of 40,000, Wheeling is located in immediate proximity to a skilled workforce and just nine miles from O’Hare International Airport.

Transportation and accessibility are among Wheeling’s strongest assets. Interstate Highways 94, 90 and 294 enable the convenient delivery of products, goods and services, while also benefitting employees who seek to work closer to home. Wheeling is served by a Metra commuter rail station located just steps from new, higher-end residential units. In addition to nearby airports and interstate highways, cargo can also be shipped via the Canadian National Railway.

Wheeling is home to Chicago Executive Airport, which is co-owned by the Village and offers customs services for international travelers. Recent hangar expansions reflect the high demand for airport services as more and more executives and visitors are choosing to fly direct to Wheeling.

The Westin Chicago North Shore Hotel and Convention Center is located in Wheeling, as is Restaurant Row, which offers over a dozen culinary choices and serves as a regional dining destination. The $110 million Wheeling Town Center—a transit-oriented mixed-use development adjacent to the Metra station and the world-class recreational amenities in Heritage Park—is now under construction, and will feature 100,000 square feet of retail space and 300 residential apartment units.

Employees who choose to make Wheeling home will benefit from quality parks and schools. The local high school district superintendent recently received national acclaim, as did students who are producing parts for the International Space Station. Wheeling’s wide array of community events, library and park district programs, recreational activities and Village services and amenities are significant assets for its residents.

Over $220 million in new development projects are currently underway in Wheeling, spurred by both its strategic location and the Village Board’s commitment to promoting a business-friendly community. The vision and goals of the community’s leaders have directly encouraged manufacturers to choose to prosper in Wheeling.

Wheeling is home to several major manufacturers, including Reynolds, Handi-Foil, Richelieu Foods, Hidden Valley Ranch, SG 360° Communications, Keats Manufacturing, Champro® Sports and Creation Technologies. Wheeling has the fifth-largest manufacturing employment concentration in Illinois, after Chicago, Elk Grove Village, Rockford and Elgin.

“A number of Wheeling manufacturers produce components for NASA and the U.S. military, as well as automotive and security products,” Economic Development Director John C. Melaniphy III said. “The wide selection of products produced in Wheeling also includes metal fabricators, electronics, medical devices, food processors, printing technology and more. Then there is the everyday household item Reynolds Wrap, commonly found in most homes and proudly produced in Wheeling.”

More than 50 different sectors are represented in Wheeling’s diverse economic base, creating an innovative business community. Wheeling contains nearly 14 million square feet of industrial space, with a vacancy rate of only 4.2 percent.

Regarding the Village’s commitment to commerce and industry, Melaniphy said, “Recently, the Village saw the construction of the first two speculative industrial development projects in Wheeling in over two decades. They provide the modern amenities that industries are looking for in this ever-changing global market.”

The first of the two is a 181,000-square-foot spec industrial building at 720 Northgate Parkway developed by Hamilton Partners in response to the tight demand for industrial space in Wheeling. The facility is designed for warehouse, distribution, logistics and manufacturing uses. The project broke ground in April of 2017 and was completed in November of 2017. Because construction took place on a vacant industrial site and delivers the potential for job creation, the Village provided a Cook County Class 6b property tax incentive for the project.

The second spec industrial development, undertaken by the Sitex Group and the Missner Group, is an 84,000-square-foot spec industrial building at 1075 Chaddick Drive, the former ABF Truck Terminal site. The developer has targeted warehouse, distribution, logistics and manufacturing uses for the property. The project, which broke ground in the summer of 2017 and is nearly complete, was also granted a Cook County Class 6b property tax incentive given its redevelopment of a blighted industrial site and its job creation potential.

While new construction can receive Cook County Class 6b property tax incentives, vacant industrial buildings may also qualify.

Another economic development tool utilized by the Village is tax increment financing (TIF) to encourage economic growth in specific areas, including certain industrial lots.

“This is an exciting time for development and growth in Wheeling. As technology enhances manufacturing, the Village is dedicated to bringing innovative companies to experience all that Wheeling has to offer: an amazing location, outstanding community support and quality way of life,” said Business Development Coordinator Marianthi Thanopoulos.

If you are considering opening a new business, you are encouraged to consider Wheeling. While Wheeling is an established suburb of Chicago, a considerable amount of property remains available for infill commercial and industrial development. For information on location or development opportunities, please visit or contact John Melaniphy, Director of Economic Development, at or at (847) 499-9094.