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Project Hammer confirmation unlikely before 2020, says DeKalb City Manager, awaits state aid

DeKALB – It’s unlikely that the identity of the international confectioner eyeing ChicagoWest Business Center is announced before the holidays, said City Manager Bill Nicklas, since the company is waiting on state and local incentives to be solidified before they commit.

In an interview after Tuesday’s school board meeting during which District 428 became the seventh taxing body to sign onto an intergovernmental agreement sign on to an agreement to abate 50% of the development’s property taxes for the first 15 years, Nicklas laid out his plan for the next few weeks.

“They have a development timeline,” he said. “So we’re trying to merge the due diligence of all our taxing bodies with the interest that they have not only in our community but also hitting some timelines that are important to the company and their interest.”

Nicklas has spent the past few weeks soliciting support for the agreement from 10 different taxing bodies. As of Tuesday, seven have voted yes, including the City of DeKalb, DeKalb County, Kishwaukee College, DeKalb Township, DeKalb Township Road District, District 428, and Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District. Those left will vote on the matter later this week, including the DeKalb County Forest Preserve and DeKalb Public Library board Wednesday, and the DeKalb Park District on Thursday.

DeKalb is in competition with a similar-sized city in Wisconsin for the bid, and documents show city staff are urging taxing bodies to approve the agreement in haste.

One of incentive needing approval is getting the State of Illinois to commit to funding a portion of road improvements needed on Gurler Road between Peace Road and Route 23 in order to better service the truck traffic expected to significantly increase because of the confectioner’s operations.

“That’s an important piece of their impact in that area,” Nicklas said. “One piece of that is going to be traffic. I’m sure the residents in that area are concerned. We’re concerned. We’re all committed to making this work for everybody.”

He said after the final intergovernmental agreement vote from the park board Thursday, he plans to take the document back to the company to show a united front. He is also waiting on letters of support at the state level. State representatives. Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) and Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) have already written letters of support and are working with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to push for state funding for improvements on Gurler Road to account for what is expected to be a surplus of truck traffic in the area if the development comes.

Nicklas said it’s likely the company will not make a final decision until the state approves road improvement funding, which he said would “send a very powerful message,” though added it may not happen until January.

“With these letters and this document, I think we have presented our case,” Nicklas said. “The community’s case for this company and the fact that we embrace them and want them to be successful here.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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