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Grainger 'buying into community' with move to Minooka

MINOOKA — After more than six months of careful research and negotiations, W.W. Grainger, Inc. has announced its move to Minooka.

Grainger is an international facilities maintenance supply company that has purchased the AMB Property Corporation spec distribution building at 701 Ferguson Blvd. in Minooka. The building is just over 1-million-square-feet.

"They're buying the location," said Missy Durkin, Grundy Economic Development Council business development director. "A lot of times companies come in and do a lease for five years, which gives them an opportunity to move on to a different location. But they're buying into the community."

Grainger is a business-to-business distribution company that supplies any type of product needed to run a facility, from ceiling light fixtures to floor cleaning products, said Debra Ceffalio, Grainger spokesperson. It is expected to house more than 450,000 industrial supply items.

Starting in 2010, Grainger will begin renovations. By 2012, it plans to be up and running.

The company chose Minooka because of its location along the Interstate 80 corridor, and its ability to enhance service to costumers across the Midwest.

"Our number one priority is our customers, and we want to have the best possible reach to them," Ceffalio said. "The I-80 corridor allows that, and it is a reasonable distance for our employees."

Durkin said Grainger is joining several other Fortune 500 companies which have come to the area for the I-80 access, including Alberto Culver, BMW and Clorox.

When the Minooka location is completed, the Niles operation will be relocated to Minooka. All of the Niles' employees have been offered the opportunity to come to Minooka, Ceffalio said. Up to half of the future available jobs at the Minooka center could be taken by current employees, leaving about 200 available jobs with the completion of the renovations.

Durkin said some of the jobs are expected to be available before the 2012 completion date in order to prepare for the opening of the new location. 

"We do have people out of work in our village," said Minooka Village President Pat Brennan. "These are going to be good jobs that help a lot of our families."

The economic stimulation from the new company is expected to reach across the various markets, including the housing, shopping and food industries.

"It also will provide more stability in that area by helping the Taco Bell, Wendy's, McDonald's and other restaurants that aren't doing well right now," Brennan said. "If you think about it, that's 400 people walking around at lunch."

In addition, Brennan said some of the Grainger employees transferring to the new location may decide to move closer to work and could buy homes in the community.

"It's just going to spur our economy terrifically," Brennan said.

Grainger operates more than 20 locations in the state. They may continue to expand in the Grundy County area in the future.

"They're looking to expand and our area is where they want to be," said Grundy County Board Chairman Frank Halpin.

While working with Grainger, Durkin said their leaders expressed future growth plans that may allow them to acquire additional property.

EDPA exception

Although the Minooka distribution center was within the county's first Economic Development Project Area, the county board doughnut-holed out the area, since it would not benefit from the benefits of the EDPA.

The EDPA is a way for the county to counter the county's unique machinery and equipment tax, which deters manufacturing companies from moving to Grundy. The EDPA allows the county to set lower property taxes for new industry.

The equalized assessed value of the area is frozen for up to 23 years, and tax money realized from improvements over the frozen value goes into a fund used for rebates for machinery and equipment costs.

Since Grainger is not a manufacturing company and will be establishing a distribution center, Durkin said it is receiving the county's standard abatement, which abates 75 percent of the property taxes the first year, 50 percent the second and 25 percent the third year of operation. 

All of the taxing bodies that benefit from Minooka's property taxes are showing support for the company.

"This is the first time we have 100 percent participation of all the taxing bodies," Durkin said.

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