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Oswego president touts village's business growth : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Oswego president touts village's business growth
LeClercq cites growing list of local businesses in 'State of Village' address

by John Etheredge


Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq emphasized the village's continuing business growth during his annual "State of the Village" address before a large audience at Oswego Village Hall Monday morning.

Addressing members of the Oswego Chamber of Commerce, event sponsors, LeClercq said an announcement should be made very soon concerning a new tenant that will occupy a large portion of the former Lowe's store in the Prairie Market shopping center on U.S. Route 34 in the village.

LeClercq declined to publicly identify the new tenant but said the tenant's identity is "probably the worst kept secret in town."

He added that new the tenant-a national retailer-does not have store hours on Sundays.

LeClercq said the remaining space in the former Lowe's will likely be subdivided for leasing to smaller retail stores.

The local Lowe's store has been vacant since the retailer closed it and several other stores nationwide as part of a cost-cutting initiative.

LeClercq also noted that the village will initially gain about 40 new jobs when Win Soon, Inc., a South Korean-owned yogurt and dairy drink manufacturer, opens a plant in the village's Kendall Point Business Center.

Also expected to open this year in Kendall Point is a trucking facility that will serve the new Sam's Club store that will open on the north side of Route 30 in the Ogden Hill shopping center in Montgomery.

The facility is also expected to generate about 40 new jobs, according to LeClercq.

LeClercq said the village also recently received a concept plan for a banquet facility for a parcel west of the Fox River in the village. The plans, he continued, show the facility accommodating between 250 and 300 people.

LeClercq noted that by the end of 2013 there were a total of 592 active businesses of all kinds operating in the village, including 46 that opened over the preceding 12 months.

He described the closure of the Dominick's food store in the Oswego Commons shopping center on Route 34 at the end of December as a low point for the village in 2013. The food store had occupied a space in Oswego Commons since the center opened in 2002.

The local store was one of 72 Dominick's stores in the Chicago area that were sold and closed by the firm's parent company, Safeway Foods, in a cost-cutting measure. Dominick's stores had been losing market share in the Chicago area for the past several years.

LeClercq said the now vacant former store may be subdivided into multiple, smaller retailers.

Though some of the former Dominick's stores have been acquired by other food chains, LeClercq said it is unlikely a new food store would open in the former Dominick's building due to the many other food stores now competing for business in the Route 34-Douglas Road area.

Vijay Gadde, the village's economic development director, told the gathering that his department will launch a new website this week that will have a wide variety of useful information concerning the village for prospective business owners and developers.

The website's homepage includes links for the village's downtown façade improvement program and incentives.

Gadde noted the village has attributes that continue to make it attractive to new businesses, including a high average annual household income ($96,044), the lowest municipal tax rate in Kendall County and continued residential growth.

Gadde noted that last year the village issued over 200 permits for new residences, including 131 for single family homes.

In addition, Gadde said home sales of all types surged in the village last year to 689, up from 241 in 2012.

Board decision pending
on road funding shortfall

On other issues, LeClercq singled out the completion of a 20 year capital improvement plan by village staff as another highlight for the village over the past year.

LeClercq, however, noted the village continues to face a "huge shortfall" in funding for its annual street maintenance program.

Village officials have said previously the additional revenues are needed due to the need to resurface streets in the many subdivisions constructed in the village over the past two decades.

He presented information that estimates the annual funding deficit at $837,000 for the 2015 fiscal year; $1.6 million in 2016; $1.5 million in 2017 and $1 million in 2018.

LeClercq said the village board will have to determine how the village will close the funding gap between its available revenues and street maintenance needs.

Also on the topic of road construction, LeClercq noted that contractors for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) should complete the widening of U.S. Route 30 between Briarcliff Road and Goodwin Drive later this year.

Route 30 east of Douglas Road serves as the boundary line between Oswego and Montgomery.

LeClercq noted that local residents frequently asked him when Route 30 will be completed.

As Route 30 work should be winding down later this year, LeClercq said contractors for IDOT will begin work on the reconstruction of Route 71 between U.S. Route 34 and Orchard/Minkler Road.

Last year contractors completed utility work necessary before the road construction can begin. The project will involve removing the existing pavement and replacing it with a four lane highway that will include center turn lanes.

A traffic signal will also be installed at the intersection of Route 71 and Douglas Street, and permanent traffic signals will replace the temporary traffic signals at the intersection of Route 71 and Forest Street.

The additional traffic lanes are expected to relieve frequent traffic back-ups that now occurred on Route 71, especially at Oswego High School and at the Washington Street/Plainfield Road intersection.

LeClercq highlighted several other village accomplishments over the past year, including:

•The completion of a market analysis of the village by the Chicago Metropolitan Area Planning organization. LeClercq thanked the chamber for having served an active role on an advisory committee that worked with CMAP officials on the project.

The market analysis identifies local properties for future retail, office and industrial development.

•The hiring of Jennifer Hughes, a professional engineer, as the village's new public works director and the hiring of Christina Burns as assistant village administrator and human resource director.

•The receipt of six grants for various projects, totaling more than $46,000.

•The re-funding of village bond sales that netted the village and its taxpayers a savings of $388,000 in future bond payments.

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