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Schaumburg aims to keep business-friendly reputation
By Eric Peterson | Daily Herald Staff

Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson and parks Commissioner Dave Johnson speak after Larson's annual state of the village address at Chandler's Banquets Tuesday.


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 1/13/2009 3:42 PM

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Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson told local business leaders Tuesday the village is keeping its own house in order while trying to encourage development in a trying economy.

At his annual "state of the village" address to the Schaumburg Business Association, Larson spoke of new businesses soon to open as well as the village's efforts to keep itself an attractive place to bring in even more.

Larson announced the baby goods store Buy Buy Baby would locate on the former Wickes Furniture store site on Golf Road, while plans are still moving forward for construction of a Whole Foods and Crate & Barrel on the former site of John M. Smythe Homemakers on Woodfield Road.

New businesses continue to open in town, Larson said, citing Legoland Discovery Center and restaurants John Barleycorn and Chicago Prime steakhouse.

The village is also planning for an influx of new residents to use its businesses. The Waterbury Lane row houses are expected to be completed this year, and Larson said a new developer, Dartmoor Homes, has taken over a long-stalled development started by Toll Brothers called The Preserves for 54 million-dollar homes behind International Village at the northwest corner of Meacham and Algonquin roads.

Of help to workers and adult students in the village will be the Children's Home and Aid Society's low-income day care center on Schaumburg which expects to open its doors within weeks, raising its capacity to 110 children from the 42 now looked after at the church next door.

The center this week received a $500,000 challenge grant from The Kresge Foundation for the center's $4.5 million fundraising campaign, leaving only $1.2 million left.

Construction stopped in 2003 when Gov. Rod Blagojevich froze state funding for the center, but resumed last year after private fundraising efforts began.

"I am most proud that Schaumburg has supported this project over many years, through ups and downs," Larson said. "Our support never faded, even though the governor's support faded."

Larson said the village is also pressing forward in its support for the STAR rail line, which would connect commuters from O'Hare to Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates and beyond via Interstate 90.

"Of course, the federal dollars we need are contingent upon the state of Illinois passing a capital bill," he said.

As far as how the tax-dependent village is making ends meet in the weak economy, belt-tightening measures like a hiring freeze and travel restrictions have helped reduce the year's expected deficit from $8.1 million to $4.2 million.

"We will end the year having to dip into our reserve funds but not to the extent we thought," Larson said.

Schaumburg's current commitment is to not cut its employees and send them out into the job market in this economy, he added.