Interesting “Meet the Candidates” meeting on Monday, March 20th. There was lots of talk about the need for more businesses and economic development. But, I didn’t hear many concrete ideas or concepts on how best to do it.
Hampshire is in the chicken and the egg corundum, which comes first, businesses or households?
To get more rooftops, you need more retail and other businesses. And, the village needs more rooftops to get any major retail into the village.
I think this is going to be problematic since most major retail establishments are waiting for Rt 47 to be developed to the point of being Randall Road per the current comprehensive plans for Hampshire, Huntley and Pingree Grove.
In my opinion, the current trustees and some of the candidates fail to understand is this. But, with some creative thinking Hampshire could have a very vibrant economy.
What you don’t know about manufacturing.
While manufacturing supports $1.33 in output from other sectors, there are things many people don’t understand. Jobs don’t always come with manufacturing.
Why? You may ask.
Most of the modern distribution centers use robotic controlled pick-and-place robots to do most of the work. Also, today’s smart factories are using significantly fewer employees due to the automation and robots, and the employees they do hire must be far more educated.
So one must ask does Hampshire have a skilled labor force that would be attractive to a modern manufacturer and does Hampshire the necessary ancillary businesses to support manufacturing?
Here is a link to the top 20 facts about manufacturing you should know and thoroughly understand.
There are other ways to do economic development
To the point of economic development and my question last night, it’s tough to do economic development when the committee hasn’t had a meeting in 18 months. Just because the village claims to be poor, doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to conduct economic development, (Hint. Hint. Social media and a better website which were touted all night) hence the need for continuous meetings of the committee.
For example, how much money doesn’t cost to go to the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) in Elgin and talk to the association’s executives? Asking them; how best to reach their members, what their members are looking for, and explaining to them what Hampshire has to offer not only to their members but the students that are going through the FMA training facility. The FMA is educating prospective manufacturing workers on how to operate the next generation of automated machinery.
Updated March 23, 3:06 pm: There are also numerous other trade associations in the Chicago area that could be visited as well. Here’s a list a few.
- Illinois Restaurant Association
- The International Trade Association of Greater Chicago (ITA/GC)
- Thermoset Resin Formulators Association
- Rotomolding Co., Ltd
- The American Supply Association
- North American Die Casting Association
The industrial directory ThomasNet has over 20 manufacturing-related trade associations in Chicagoland, and the American Society of Association Executives has a directory of associations from all industries.
Furthermore, economic development isn’t only recruiting of businesses located elsewhere to the village, but also find ways of assisting current businesses to stay or helping current residents start a business. That is essentially what the one woman had asked. What can or could the village do to help businesses bring 100+-year-old buildings up to code? For a business that would be critical to their success.
Is it redefining what the word blight means to include bringing the building up to code? So it can utilize TIF funds since code upgrades will increase property values. Is it setting aside a portion of the Revolving Loan Fund to assist with code upgrades? Could it be declaring the buildings historic so they can apply for historic building restoration grant money? Or maybe it is a combination of all of these incentives.
Updated March 23, 3:06 pm: One person asked about what is the village doing to inform new residents of the businesses in town. Most municipalities have a “Welcome Wagon” in which through the builder(s) or real estate agents, the new homeowner receives a brochure, folder or ‘swag’ bag with coupons and information about businesses and the village. I understand the Chamber has just started this.
What about down here!
Concerning drawing people into the center part of the town. There is an old saying “out of sight out of mind.”
If you drive in either direction on Route 64, there is no signage pointing travelers to the central district. The same can be said of Allen Road. Why is that?
Also, all of the examples of villages, towns, and cities that were mentioned, they’re all the wrong examples. When the US railroad network was put in place towns were built along the network. So, there have to be other cities in the US and in other countries where their central district is along a railroad line with a major road/highway away from the central area. We should be looking at these as examples, as well.
I know of the trustee candidates weren’t around or on the board at the time, but had the village approved the Metra station in downtown along with a holding yard, we would have had an ideal attraction to build around.
Some of my ideas
As my 85-year-old mom, who has lived here since the 1980s, keeps saying, there is nothing here to keep dollars in town.
Everyone kept saying we need a hardware store. That’s true. But, what everyone is failing to see is complementary businesses.
As Nicholas G. Carr stated in a Strategy-Business.com article “Most products exist in an ecosystem of complementary goods and services, each of which influences the others’ sales and prices.”
We have a grocery store, but it has limited space for some essential items. What do most of the grocery stores have? A bakery!
Does the old restaurant on State Street need to be a restaurant? Restaurants and bakeries have a similar need, a kitchen. That building has an existing kitchen and depending on the equipment it has it could reduce a bakery’s start up costs.
So instead of trying to sell the building to a restaurant, why not work with Kevin Echevarria, the owner of Envisage Coworking in Elgin and a shared kitchen incubator, or the ECC culinary school in getting a bakery.
Updated March 23, 3:06 pm: Here’s another thought for the vacant restaurant. Work with the building’s owner to have it open to pop-up restaurants. Every weekend there could be a different restaurant operate out of the building to test the viability of menu and restaurant type. Someone mentioned a Mexican restaurant wanted to go into the strip center on Route 72. Maybe they could test their viability out of that building.
Most grocery stores also have a florist shop.
Every time I drive down Rakow Road, I see the sign for Mr. G’s Florist, but there can’t be anything going on there because all of the buildings are collapsed. So, why not try to get a floral shop into one of the buildings downtown?
Could the reason the coffee shop ─ that was in the store now occupied by Hampshire Pharmacy ─ failed was due to not having complementary businesses around it to help support it?
If you had a coffee shop, next to a floral shop next to a bakery next to a grocery store now you have synergy. So maybe the old hardware store ─ and soon to be ex-dollar store ─ could be better suited to have three complementary shops?
If that were the case, in one square block, you’d have a grocery store, a bakery, floral shop and possibly two restaurants.
Hey, what about a microbrewery? They typically love older buildings.
Or a chocolate/ice cream shop. Yes, we have Chick’n Dip and Dairy Queen, but if you’ve ever been to Grahams in Geneva, you know that a store like that could work in Hampshire, especially since they do a brisk business with the chocolate and ice cream year round. They’re also an example of a successful retail store that is off the beaten path, the main drag, or whatever you want to call Route 38.
Talk about culture, aura and recreation
With more rooftops come kids, bicycles, and skateboards.
Every summer, Hampshire is the halfway point for a bike race which travels down State Street.
So wouldn’t a bicycle/skateboard shop be ideal for downtown, especially when the closest stores are in Geneva, West Dundee or Sycamore?
Speaking of bicycling, as more houses are built traffic volumes will increase making it more difficult to ride the surrounding roads. We have an ideal resource to cultivate that could alleviate this problem.
It’s called Coon Creek.
The creek runs 15 miles from approximately Briar Hill Road along the railroad tracks and through the industrial park through farmland to the northwest.
Fifteen 15 miles would make for a great bike path, and there aren’t any recognized bike paths in this part of Kane County.
This past summer I was walking through the industrial park and noticed factory workers seating on the grass while eating their lunch.
The area at Rowell Road and Coon Creek would make for a great place for a small (tiny) park that possibly would include a gazebo with a table and benches. If the bike path went through it, it could act as a rest stop as well.
How about a comprehensive architectural plan?
I’ll close with this. I believe if the village wants ‘charm’ or a particular aura then it is time to develop a comprehensive architectural plan. The architectural plan would establish standards for home designs and building facades.
This past fall while conducting some research I noticed that many municipalities have or are establishing a comprehensive architectural plan. Why are they doing it?
Unification, messaging and marketing. A municipality can claim they want to be X, but, if the architecture doesn’t match that look and feel of the aura they want, there will be a disconnect between what they say they want to be and what they are actually.
I know, the above is a lot to chew on, but necessary food for thought.
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