Export-Grant Initiative Wins Illinois Economic Development Award

Export-Grant Initiative Wins Illinois Economic Development Award

A groundbreaking exports initiative with handfuls of success stories right here in Kane County has been recognized as one of the top economic development efforts of the past year.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Illinois Economic Development Association, named Metro Chicago Exports a winner of the eighth annual Economic Development in Illinois Awards — the Edies.

“We are proud to recognize five outstanding economic development projects that were completed in 2015,” said Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber. “Economic development is key to Illinois’ continued growth and recovery, and these companies are making a difference. The Edies honor those who imagine, design, invest, and build in Illinois, and by doing so bring jobs, growth and prosperity to our communities.”

Metro_Chicago_ExportsAIn 2015, the Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program provided $225,000 in funding to 54 regional companies— including many in Kane County — to offset financial risks associated with exporting and investing in research, certifications and other services necessary to pursue opportunities in the global marketplace. This resulted in $10 million in new revenue to the region, eight new jobs, and 25 retained jobs.

The program used three strategies: fill the pipeline, strengthen the local network and reduce the costs of international trade growth.

Metro Chicago Exports is a collaboration between seven counties — Kane, Cook, DuPage, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will — and the city of Chicago, and its goal is to increase exports from small- and mid-sized enterprises and support regional job growth. It is a strategic economic development program and is part of the region’s broader business retention and expansion strategy.

Kane County is an active participant in the Metro Chicago Exports program. In fact, the county offers the additional incentive of matching any grant that a Kane County company wins in the program — a value of up to $10,000.

Applications for the 2016 Grant Program will be accepted through May 27, 2016. Details and eligibility requirements pertaining to the 2016 Metro Chicago Exports Grant Program are available at www.MetroChicagoExports.com.

If you have any questions about the Kane County program, please contact Chris Toth of Kane County Development and Community Services Department at tothchris@co.kane.il.us or 630-232-3491.


  • Riverbank Laboratories, Inc. — Geneva
  • Miner Elastomer Products Corporation — Geneva
  • SBS Steel Belt Systems USA — Gilberts
  • InFlight Entertainment Products — Carpentersville
  • AIR802 — Aurora
  • Radco Industries, Inc. — Batavia
  • Micro Products Company — Batavia
  • Brasel Products, Inc. — Batavia

Industrial Container Cargo freight ship with working crane bridge in shipyard at dusk for Logistic Import Export background

Other Edie Winners

ComEd sponsors the Edies, which are recognized as the state’s top award for economic development.

“Each of the nominations was impressive, and IEDA is pleased to see so many innovative projects across the state,” said Angela Griffin, board chair of IEDA. “It is an honor to recognize these successful and growing businesses. Edie Award winners are investing in their communities, providing meaningful employment opportunities, and becoming distinguished corporate citizens. Congratulations!”

Other winners are:

Sunstar Americas

Sunstar Americas used $55 million in private investment and $3.5 million in public investment to build a new, 302,000 square foot manufacturing facility, which will be the Sunstar Americas’ North American Headquarters. This project created nearly 250 construction jobs, and added 30 jobs to the headquarters’ 300 jobs that were moved from Sunstar’s previous Chicago location.

With Sunstar’s investment vacant land became a major landmark in Schaumburg which will generate more than $1 million in property tax income for the village, in addition to revenue generated as people from all over the world visit the headquarters.

Sunstar Americas, Inc. is a member of the globally-trusted Sunstar Group of companies that manufactures and markets innovative oral care projects.

Sunstar Americas currently has seven facilities in five countries. It’s been in operation since 1932 and has held the philosophy to “always strive to help people everywhere achieve better health and enhance their quality of life.” It also manufactures health and beauty items as well as motorcycle party.

Invenergy LLC

Bringing to conclusion an effort that was launched in 1998, Invenergy has completed the ambitious Nelson Energy Center power plant, a natural gas fired combined-cycle facility with a net output is 584 MWs — enough electricity to power more than 640,000 homes. The power from the plant which was constructed on 130 acres of land, is sold into the PJM Interconnection wholesale market which stretches from Illinois to the eastern seaboard and serves 61 million customers. This project employed more than 350 people at the peak of construction, and employs 24 full-time employees.

The Nelson Energy Center is one of a growing number of natural gas-fired plants which use abundant, reliable, domestically-sourced natural gas to produce electricity. These plants lower overall costs to homes and business, which supports the continued economic growth of its communities. The local community will see at least $6.5 million of additional property taxes over the next 10 years, in addition to the millions it will spend with local businesses.

America’s Central Port

Forward thinking and continued growth have been hallmarks of America’s Central Port since its inception in 1959. This company’s construction of the new multi-modal Madison Harbor makes it an Edie winner.

Components of this winning project include a new South Rail Loop on Port, excavation of the new river harbor, a general cargo dock, and construction of a dry bulk terminal structure with truck and rail capabilities.

Madison Harbor represents a multiphase, $50 million investment that will increase the freight transportation opportunities of the entire St. Louis region. Such investment makes the Port one of the leading inland river ports in the nation.

America’s Central Port District was created by the Illinois legislature as an economic development tool for the communities of Granite City, Madison and Venice with the mission of creating jobs and promoting transportation.

Even though America’s Central Port’s footprint has grown, the mission remains the same: to grow and promote the region as a whole. The Port owns and operates a 1,200 acre mixed-use business industrial park in Granite City and Madison.

Method Products

Method Products opened its soap factory in 2016 on 22 acres in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. The first factory opened in the historic industrial center which became known as the “South Side Soapbox.”

The 150,000-square-foot, environmentally-sustainable structure is the industry’s first LEED-platinum certified manufacturing plant. The facility includes solar panels, a wind turbine, and a planned rail spur. On its roof is a 75,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse, operated by Brooklyn, NY-based Gotham Greens, the world’s largest rooftop farm. Gotham hired around 40 workers to grow a million pounds of vegetables and other greens annually. That’s on top of the 57 jobs created during construction and 32 retained jobs, for a total of 100 green manufacturing jobs.

The Soapbox is Method’s first factory in the U.S., but plans to leverage the manufacturing plant as a learning opportunity for the community, offering public tours to educate people on renewable energy, hydroponic farming and green manufacturing. The company produces nontoxic home cleaners, detergents, and hand and body cleansers. A majority of that manufacturing now takes place in Pullman using recycled and local materials with a zero-landfill goal.

SOURCE: Illinois Chamber of Commerce news release