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posted: 11/23/2022 5:30 AM

Hoffman Estates approves ambitious strategic plan for economic development

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  • The Now Arena in Hoffman Estates hadn't yet opened as the Sears Centre when the village adopted its economic development strategic plan in 2005. Village officials have approved the first major revision to the plan in 17 years.

    The Now Arena in Hoffman Estates hadn't yet opened as the Sears Centre when the village adopted its economic development strategic plan in 2005. Village officials have approved the first major revision to the plan in 17 years.
    Daily Herald File Photo, 2021

 
 

Hoffman Estates officials have approved the first major revision of the village's economic development strategic plan in 17 years, setting ambitious goals while recognizing a different business landscape from that of 2005.

The strategic plan's nine strategies include attraction and recruitment; business retention and expansion; foreign direct investment and targeted industry clusters; housing; marketing and communications; quality of life; small business development; tourism; and workforce development.

Economic Development Director Kevin Kramer said the strategies define how the village should focus its limited time and resources in areas of economic development.

The plan also identifies how the village might attract people back to work in their offices, as well as how to make it an attractive place to live for remote workers -- such as emphasizing the convenient presence of coworking space like that at Bell Works Chicagoland, Kramer said.

While achieving all the plan's goals in the next five years is unlikely, Kramer said reaching 90% would be a big win for the village.

"I want to dream big," he added. "Even if they don't all come true, maybe some of them can."

Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod said what especially impresses him about the plan is that it's based on a full SWOT -- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats -- analysis of the village.

One example is the acknowledgment of the number of apartment proposals the village is receiving, which could easily dominate future development if all were approved, he said.

"It's a useful tool," McLeod added. "How do we balance the economy? We don't want to be a one-company town."

Among the newest aspects of the plan is the pursuit of foreign direct investment, as well as improving service to existing industry clusters in hopes of attracting similar businesses.

A public survey conducted for the plan found that among 165 respondents, more than 70% view the village as business friendly.

The respondents' top economic development priorities were business retention and expansion, new business attraction, small business development, and workforce and real estate development. When asked what new types of businesses they'd like to see, respondents' most popular answers were grocery stores and restaurants.

In a related move, Village Manager Eric Palm's recommended 2023 budget includes the hiring of a new staff member who would assist the efforts Kramer has been undertaking largely single-handedly for years.

Palm said funding for the hire would come through savings from employee attrition.

"He does a lot with a little, and so I think that position is justified," Palm said.