Olson: Companies should invest in DeKalb because its people care

To the company managers considering new sites in the city of DeKalb:

First off, thanks for seeing the tremendous opportunities that this community has to offer. What we heard this week from City Manager Bill Nicklas is that there are actually two of you considering sites in the ChicagoWest Business Center near Route 23 and Gurler Road – one a food manufacturing company, and another a tech company. Combined, it could create more than 1,000 new jobs, which would be a tremendous boon for our local economy.

DeKalb has a lot to offer your companies, too, which is why you ought to invest and build here.

The area has great access to the things you’ll need. We have an educated workforce and a major state research institution in Northern Illinois University, with more than 16,000 students (and an Football Bowl Stadium football team, lots of cultural events and activities, and more.)

There are also ample supplies of power, water and agricultural products, and easy access to the nation’s interstate highways, railway network and DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport. Our local hospital recently opened a new breast health center, and people here have access to a regional network of health care experts through the Northwestern Medicine system.

More homes are being built in the area every year, and many new homes that can begin construction relatively quickly, in DeKalb, Sycamore, and other nearby communities. (There are also a couple of fancy ones on the market right now if you have executives looking to drop $1 million or so.)

Now, I know that there have been some concerns voiced about “bad publicity” in the past month or so, but that’s not the best way to look at it.

A better way would be that there’s publicity about DeKalb in general. People in this community care about it enough to support a daily newspaper. They go to their City Council and other government meetings, and voice their opinions on local affairs. What happens in DeKalb matters to them; it matters to us. The fact that people in our community are so engaged should tell you something about the education level of our residents, and the fact that this area is fundamentally strong.

If your companies choose to make
multimillion-dollar investments in the community, you'll number among us.

I’m guessing you’d want the community you invest in to be a genial host, and that we certainly will be.

In fact, when you announce you’re going to build here, that will be front-page news. When you start building, when you announce plans to hire local people, when you actually open – we’ll be here to help tell your companies’ stories to the community.

When you do become corporate citizens of DeKalb, I’m guessing it would also be helpful to know that there’s a local newspaper that is watching what the local leaders are doing, talking to them about their plans for solving future challenges, and holding them accountable for their actions. It’s a whole lot easier for the newspaper to do it than for you to come here and do it yourselves, isn’t it?

Do our people squabble occasionally about local issues? Sure. But I don’t know of any communities our size in free societies where everyone agrees all the time.

I don’t know what other places you might be considering, but I don’t think you could do much better than a town like this one.

Am I biased? Sure. I live in DeKalb County. But I haven’t always.

In fact, I’ve only been here seven years. I’ve had some opportunities to leave, and so far I’ve passed on them because this is a damn fine place to live. DeKalb County offers a good quality of life, communities where people care about each other, good schools – and I never sit in traffic.

Seriously, never. It’s wonderful.

The Daily Chronicle, on the other hand, has been around for more than 140 years. Over time, the newspaper has embodied it’s readers’ optimism, fighting spirit and their commitment to forging forward and making their hometowns better.

It would be great to have you invest here and join us. Our leaders are working to make that as attractive a proposition as possible, and our newspaper would certainly encourage them to do so.

The rest of it – well, that’s all ready for you. Come on and join us.

• Eric Olson is general manager of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 2257, email eolson@shawmedia.com, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.