Last winter, Brain Casey was sitting in his Hoffman Estates office at the Thomas Engineering company founded by his father when he looked out the window at I-90 and Roselle Road and saw a survey crew taking notes.
“It was about a month later that I got a notice from the (Illinois State Toll Highway Authority) saying we had to get out,” Casey recalled. “It was kind of shocking.”
Casey said he received a fair price for his 15 acres and 77,000-square-foot building to make way for the tollway expansion. It was finding a new location, even as the COVID-19 pandemic sent most of his employees home to work, that seemed more daunting — Vernon Hills, Mount Prospect, Wheeling and Cary all seemed like possible destinations.
But when he looked at the population of Elgin and spoke to some Elgin business owners, he said he knew it would be the right place for the pharmaceutical equipment manufacturer to relocate.
“Elgin’s diversity matches our diversity as a company,” Casey said. “I was impressed with that and pleased to see we could move to a community that reflects us.
“I talked to a number of people I know in the business community who are already located in Elgin. Everybody I spoke to spoke really highly of the business orientation that the city council has.”
Thomas Engineering employs about 75 people with an average salary of $75,000 a year. And even though the company had recently branched out to do business in China and India, Casey knew his Hoffman Estates location was larger than necessary.
So when city officials proposed a one-time waiver of $50,000 in building permit fees, and a permitting process that was approved in one day, Casey jumped at the chance to take over one of the more visible industrial properties in Elgin.
After the city council’s unanimous approval of the incentive package, Casey closed on a 3.17-acre property at 200 Airport Road formerly occupied by the Swiss manufacturer Bystronic. It’s only about 10 minutes from Casey’s current location.
“It gives us great visibility right on the tollway and Route 31,” Casey said. “And it’s a very nice building.”
Casey plans to put about $1 million in interior renovations into the 48,300-square-foot building. Most of it involves creating laboratory environments that mimic those used by clients such as Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Once complete, the business will pay local gas, electric and telecommunications taxes to the city, as well as water and sewer fees. The property generates more than $110,000 in property taxes that go to the city, local schools and other local taxing bodies.
Casey said he’s looking forward to becoming an active member of the Elgin community. In particular, he said he’s paying attention to the importance of the city’s discussions about the use of city police in local schools.
“The relevance and importance of that discussion and the ramifications that go behind the decision are immense right now,” Casey said. “We’re a community-oriented business. And we look forward to contributing in Elgin as well.”
This content was originally published here.