While toweling down a black Cadillac Escalade on Wednesday, Fuller's Carwash owner Joseph Fuller explained his plans to revamp his Elk Grove Village business, complete with updated signs.
"If you're going to have this impressive park across the street, we have to be equally impressive," he said. "Elk Grove has a high standard for being impressive."
Fuller's future neighbor, the Elk Grove Technology Park, formally broke ground Wednesday on 85 acres at the former Busse Farm, between East Higgins Road and Oakton Street. Plans call for the $1 billion project to include nine speculative facilities covering nearly 1.2 million square feet.
Gov. Bruce Rauner, Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson and the project's developers, Brennan Investment Group, said they see the new industrial and data center space bringing more job opportunities and a vibrant economy to Illinois.
"Even existing businesses are trying to update themselves," Johnson said. "This is an infusion. We're changing over to a modern way of doing business."
The project reflects a "third industrial revolution," said Michael Brennan, chairman of Brennan Investment Group.
"We've been gratified with the volume and wide range of interest in the property," Brennan said, adding that confidentiality agreements prevent him from disclosing exactly what businesses are expected to fill the park.
Other dignitaries at the groundbreaking included U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, state Rep. Tom Morrison, Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens and Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy.
Demolition of existing infrastructure at Busse Farm and 11 other land parcels acquired for the park already has taken place. New infrastructure, including water and sewer lines and roads, will be built next, with building construction expected to start in early fall, according to Brennan. Keely Construction of Villa Park will be the contractors for the project.
Elk Grove's location near O'Hare International Airport, combined with Johnson's pro-business approach, were cited as instrumental factors in the project coming to the village.
Rauner said he expects tech companies will start moving inward from the coasts to the "hardworking Midwest," where there is a lower cost of doing business.
"This will be the heart of the economic engine for the state," he said. "We as a state need to make sure we have the workforce ready."