While the housing market has slumped and the economy has slowed, economic interest in Elgin, Illinois, has amplified internationally over the last several years with many global companies expanding and green initiatives emerging in the City.
“Elgin has been making great strides in bringing major industrial firms to the area from overseas,” said Elgin Mayor Ed Schock. “Coupled with Elgin’s commitment to sustainability and the budding green economy, Elgin is well positioned for future growth.”
Siemens Energy & Automation, the largest producer of wind turbine gear drives in the United States, is expanding its current facility in Elgin, while also building an additional $20 million plant in the City – which is set to open in spring, 2009. The expansion will create an additional 355 new “green” jobs within the next three to four years, adding to the 150 people Siemens currently employs here.
“It’s all part of the bigger picture where cities and other communities contribute to the green direction President Obama is seeking to advance,” said Schock. “As business and industry shift toward more conservation and renewable energy models, it’s going to be important for government – local government – to ensure the right policies and procedures are in place to ensure smart growth and sustainable development.”
And that is why Elgin is in the midst of creating one of the first long-range sustainability master plans in the country.
“There must be a shift in thinking for sustainability to really work locally,” said Schock. “I think we’re ahead of a lot of communities because we are acknowledging and inviting change.”
Elgin is already home to many different sustainable projects including Sherman Hospital’s development of a geothermal lake – one of the largest lake loop heat-pump systems in the world and the first built by an Illinois hospital. It’s also home to Waste Management’s Transfer Station which was awarded the “Gold Level” LEED certification. It’s the first time any transfer station has ever been recognized for its sustainability efforts and standards.
“It’s important that we all do our part for the environment whether you’re a part of the international business community or a resident,” said Schock,. “Green mandates may be established nationally, but they will need to be enforced locally. Elgin is reviewing its current practices and will be ready.”