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'We're all for it': DeKalb City Council unanimously approves annex for unidentified Project Ventus

DeKALB – Mayor Jerry Smith stood up and led the council chambers in a round of applause Monday night after the city council voted unanimously to approve a pre-development incentive agreement for a yet unknown tech company on the city’s south side.

“Thank you council,” Smith said. “I think we made a wise decision on that tonight.”

The agreement with Project Ventus’ pseudonym company, Ventus Tech Services, LLC, will annex and rezone a 500-acre site south of Gurler Road from Afton Township to the City of DeKalb, across from the ChicagoWest Business Center site where Ferrara Candy Company is making its new home. The contract also increased a previously approved 20-year, 55% property tax abatement package tied to job creation and other site details.

The council’s senior member, Ward 2 Alderman Bill Finucane, issued another declaration of welcome to the company.

“We as a council are very excited about the prospect,” Finucane said. “We know that we have the necessary utilities, great access to transportation, support of institutions of higher ed, a supply of critical labor, and most critical for your operation, an existing fiber network. I can’t say this strong enough: we want you here.”

The development comes on the heels of Ferrara Candy Company’s announcement that it will invest $100 million into the ChicagoWest Business Center and build a 1.6 million-square-foot distribution facility, bringing with it 1,000 jobs. Ventus’ investment would be significantly more ($800 million to build on the 900,000-square-foot space in ChicagoWest) and bring with it 50 high-end jobs.

The project also has the support of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation and Northern Illinois University, as members heralded the city’s efforts to continue economic development in the business park.

Gerald Blazey, vice president for research and innovation partnerships, spoke on behalf of NIU President Lisa Freeman.

“We think this venture will bring in the type of experiences our graduate and undergraduate students would like to see,” Blazey said. “Having jobs in the area is very important to help us retain our students and build the economic cultural piece of the city. So we’re all for it.”

DeKalb businessman Cohen Barnes, president of the DCEDC board, said Project Ventus, though not yet finalized, promises a new era of economic vitality for the region.

“It’s a great opportunity for our community to be able to close a deal like Project Ventus,” Barnes said. “And the opportunity it’s going to bring for everybody is absolutely phenomenal. The business community is just excited about this opportunity.”

On Jan. 13, the council approved an extension that expanded the physical parameters of the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone from the 13 miles it currently has to then include the 500-acre site, which is composed of about four pieces of farmland owned separately by four individuals.

City Manager Bill Nicklas said the company, still unknown, will oversee acquisition of the private property if it chooses DeKalb.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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