At a time when municipalities are dealing with Covid-19 and revenue shortfalls, University Park has managed to convince the second largest private employer in the United States to build in their community.
Amazon began construction last week on a massive 1.2 million square foot warehousing and distribution hub in the village’s industrial park west of Cicero Avenue and east of I-57. The warehouse will occupy the southwest corner of Steger Road and Central Avenue. The Amazon company is investing $150 million in University Park and hiring an estimated 800 new employees to manage and operate the regional distribution hub.
Mayor Joseph E. Roudez III, who also worked to bring the billion-dollar company to his village stated, “This is the single largest commercial investment in University Park’s history. It’s unprecedented and will bring both employment opportunities to our residents.”
The village has also targeted Cicero Avenue as a new commercial corridor and has acquired state transportation dollars to complete a streetscape and street lighting project on Cicero Avenue, off University Parkway. “With Amazon’s new jobs and several new largescale developments to be announced, there will be a need for restaurants and retail on Cicero Avenue,” added Roudez.
In addition to creating jobs for University Park residents, Roudez stressed that attracting Amazon is part of the village’s overall economic development strategy to shift the property tax burden away from University Park homeowners by increasing the village’s commercial revenue base.
Village Manager and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Administrator Ernestine Beck-Fulgham, TIF Attorney Kathy Orr, along with the mayor’s economic development team, also negotiated the $150 million deal.
“It’s the largest internet company in the world, and it’s the second largest private employer in the United States,” stated Beck-Fulgham. “During the negotiations process between the village’s economic development team and Amazon, the village offered competitive incentives through the industrial parks’ TIF district to attract Amazon’s $150 million investment.”
In addition, the village was able to get Amazon to agree to co-sponsoring a future job fair so University Park residents would have first crack at applying for these good jobs. “We are talking about over 800 jobs with a starting salary of $15.00 an hour and full benefits on day one,” explained Beck-Fulgham.
Interested residents need to go to the village’s website, www.university-park-il.com, to download and complete the application. Completed applications should be submitted to the Office of the Village Manager. Residents may also come to village hall for an application.
Beck-Fulgham believes that the village is in an excellent position to bring more companies to University
Park. “We have the infrastructure in place and economic development incentives to be competitive. Now we are seeing the fruits of our labor and a direct benefit to our residents, who get hiring preferences and homeowners who get property tax relief,” said Beck-Fulgham.
Amazon.com, Inc. is based in Seattle with approximately 750,000 employees and more than $160 billion invested in the United States according to published reports. It is believed to be the world’s largest online marketplace, and second largest private employer in the United States.