Industry could find DeKalb attractive

By Mike Solley

DeKalb is “a hot town for (industrial) prospects” because of its location and available industrial sites, according to state representatives from the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA).

At a meeting Tuesday of the DeKalb Economic Development Commission, David Hallstrom, DCCA marketing manager, said one of DeKalb’s strong points is its location. The city is situated on both the high technology and automotive corridors in Illinois, Hallstrom said.

The high technology corridor follows Illinois Highway 5 from Cook County through DuPage and Kane counties, Hallstrom said. DeKalb County logically will follow, he said.

DeKalb is benefitted by its access to I-5 and to U.S. Route 51, Hallstrom said. Route 51 is part of the automotive corridor, connecting the Kelly tire plant in Freeport and the Chrysler plant in Belvidere, he said.

Companies are looking for areas that can furnish parts-supply plants rather than automotive manufacturing locations, Hallstrom said. The access to highways is an important benefit, he said.

Senior DCCA Representative Lynn Raney said DeKalb’s other attractive feature is its available sites for industrial development. Raney, who works with Illinois communities and helps them organize presentations to attract new businesses, said most corporations are interested in both sites and in existing buildings.

DeKalb is at a disadvantage when it comes to available buildings that can be used for industry, Hallstrom said. “DeKalb does not have a lot (to work with),” he said.

One reason DeKalb lost the Johnson Controls automotive parts plant to Sycamore was because DeKalb did not have a building to suit their needs, Raney said.

The location of NIU in DeKalb can act as either an advantage or a disadvantage, Hallstrom said. To many Japanese companies, it is important to be located near an institution of higher learning, he said.

allstrom said DeKalb has already done well working with companies to attract them to the area. “It’s important to find industry that wants to be here,” he said.