The annual Grundy County Economic Development Awards, hosted jointly by the Grundy Economic Development Council, and the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce & Industry, were held Thursday night at the Morris Country Club with nearly 240 guests in attendance.
The dinner started with a six-minute video depicting how a community rebuilds after disaster, specifically the April 2013 flooding in Grundy County and the tornado that struck Coal City and Diamond last fall.
“I think the importance of the event is there are a lot of companies and individuals who are doing great things in our community,” Nancy Ammer, chief executive officer of GEDC, said. “It’s important that people get acknowledged for what they are doing.”
The Welcome to Grundy County award began as a way to recognize new businesses that invent in the community. This year’s recipient is WW Grainger, located in Minooka.
“One important component of the award is that a company not just locate a new facility but truly becomes part of our community,” Ammer said. “Before the doors even opened, Grainger started giving back to the Grundy County community.”
Grainger has made significant donations to Channooka Wish, We Care of Grundy County, Special Connections, Joliet Junior College, and Minooka Summerfest.
When the tornado hit Coal City and Diamond, the GEDC reached out to Grainger, which said it would have a truck there by noon.
Rob Favaro, director of DC relations at WW Grainger, said he moved to Minooka from Minnesota and quickly found himself welcomed into the community.
“One thing is when I walked into a grocery store and they saw I worked for Grainger, they started asking about Grainger,” Favaro said during his acceptance speech. “It made me feel great that I came to a community where we are welcome.”
He said it’s the philosophy of WW Grainger associates that when they come to a community, they don’t just build a location, they become involved.
The Partnership Award was presented to Coal City and the Union Pacific Railroad.
“Successful projects are built on collaboration and cooperation,” Ammer said. “Emerging from one of the toughest recessions in recent history, the village of Coal City has made a big commitment to attract new industrial taxpayers and quality jobs, partnering with the Union Pacific Railroad to help kick-start the Inland Logistics Port of Coal City.”
The Village of Coal City is constructing a lead track in the industrial park. In exchange, the Union Pacific Railroad has entered into a revenue sharing program with the village.
“Whether you are a municipality, a county, or a state, it takes persistence and patience to make things happen,” Coal City Mayor Neal Nelson said.
The logistics facility will be on 285 acres on the southwest edge of Coal City.
It will have 2.8 million square feet under one roof.
The logistics facility will be shovel-ready with the addition of the lead track that this partnership is building.
LyondellBasell was named Business of the Year by the GEDC.
“Thanks to market conditions and the price of natural gas, a primary feedstock for the Lyondell facility, the Morris plant is growing, investing, and hiring again,” Ammer said. “Most recently, they have spent significant capital upgrading the facility and also added a new rail facility.”
LyondellBasell has been in Grundy County since 1969. Although the company has had several name changes, it still is providing jobs to people from the area with an annual payroll and benefits in excess of $50 million.
“We’re committed to the local community,” Brian Angwin, plant manager, said. “We’ve had many names, and even though the names change the commitment stays the same.”
Lyondell employees and their families donate to We Care of Grundy County, Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross and, most recently, the Mazon City Park.
Ammer also thanked Lyondell for sponsoring four interns this summer for the Grundy County Internship Program.