CAPRE’s Chicago Data Center Summit Preview: Q&A with Josh Grodzin, Elk Grove Village
by Josh Anderson
CHICAGO, IL — Elk Grove Village is one of the top national locations for data center development. Home to the largest industrial park in the U.S., Elk Grove has over 2.2 million square feet of data centers attracted by a robust fiber and electricity network. Elk Grove is recognized for being the most business friendly community in America. Josh Grodzin is theDirector for Business Development and Marketing at Elk Grove Village, which will be a key sponsor at CAPRE’s upcoming Chicago Data Center Summit on March 19. Below, we connected with Josh to learn more about what Elk Grove Village will bring to the summit as well as what they have to offer the data center summit
CAPRE: Thanks for chatting with us today, Andy. Please share with our readers a bit about what you do in Elk Grove Village.
Grodzin: I’m the Director of Business Development and Marketing. I’m really the first point of contact for businesses of any kind looking to expand or move to elk grove village. I head up our business retention and marketing programs – anything from networking with business we have here now, to making sure they know they have a resource in the village for any questions they have. It includes helping people find available properties, walking them through the permitting and licensing process, helping them access any village or county or state incentive programs, introducing them to other businesses, and just being a point of contact for the village.
CAPRE: Tell us about the data center business in Elk Grove Village.
Grodzin: Elk Grove Village is home to the largest industrial park in the U.S. It contains 62 million square feet of space. So we’re always trying to keep the industrial park diverse and active. Our vacancy rate is 2.5%. So part of that is that we have a lot of manufacturing, trucking, logistics, food manufacturing, warehousing, building materials such as doors and windows and flooring.
About three or four years ago, we had one or two data centers. As that industry started to develop more, we were a prime spot. Because Elk Grove Village has the inventory that a lot of communities don’t have, in terms of space. It’s also very conveniently located by the airport and the interstate system. There’s a very robust fiber network out here as well that runs through Elk Grove Village, just like there’s a very robust freight network. So we seized on that growth, and our attributes, and started to market ourselves more to data centers, mostly through making contact with brokers in that industry.
Grodzin: Because we’re so familiar with industrial development, we’re able to provide a high level of service to those companies as they build their facilities. We’re easy to work with, we’re quick, and that saves time and money. It’s a good natural fit due to our industrial park, and it allows us to capitalize on whatever industrial trends are on the rise.
CAPRE: What presence does the industry have at this time?
Grodzin: We have about 12 data centers and about 2 million square feet. There’s also a really robust electrical service through ComEd – a lot of capacity. If technicians are coming to work at these facilities, the location makes it so that there’s no congestion like you’d have in a city. we also pride ourselves on our people. We work hand in hand in partnership with the business community. We don’t road block anyone. We make sure we get our projects done on time. We’re very proactive in that respect.
CAPRE: We’re looking forward to welcoming you to CAPRE’s upcoming Chicago Data Center Summit. What should attendees expect from your participation?
Grodzin: We’ll have a booth at the summit and we’re going to be on a panel, where one of the topics will be incentives. Because site selection is very much a real estate decision. We have the employees and the infrastructure. The question is frequently – where do we start? That’s the main question. Where do we go, who do we talk to? I like to tell them that I’m the first point of contact. We’ll make it as easy as possible to get your projects completed on time. And for any industrial development, we have programs where we can enact an abatement program. So it’s about the processes and the permits – how to navigate them. That’s where I come in.
CAPRE: What’s the latest on the state level?
Grodzin: As far as the state, the state is trying to ramp up their marketing efforts for data centers. They’ve created a public private partnership called Intersect Illinois a few years ago, to promote the state as a location for business on an international scale. So any marketing or promotional material that the state can provide is great, because we’re doing things day to day in the trenches. They’re trying to get involved. But we don’t really look to the state, because most of the incentives people want are property tax abatements and the state doesn’t have a role in that. whenever the city the county and the state align, sharing our resources, that’s always good. That ebbs and flows over the years.
CAPRE: What areas for improvement still exist in Illinois?
Grodzin: The biggest issue I hear from companies across the board is workforce development. Where are we getting our workforce from, who’s training them to work in these various industries? That’s the biggest issue – keeping and retaining talent in the Illinois and Chicagoland area. It’s Illinois – it’s cold here most of the year, and a lot of people leave the state because of that.
CAPRE: Got it. Thanks for your candor, Josh. We’ll see you in Chicago.