Swiss agriculture company to put down roots in DeKalb County west of Kish College

DeKALB – An international agriculture business has chosen DeKalb County to plant its new roots and will build a 96,000-square-foot space on 24 acres just west of Kishwaukee College.

City Manager Bill Nicklas called it a great opportunity during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, during which the council voted unanimously to authorize modifications to the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone, a program which offers tax incentive and other economic opportunities to countywide business and investors to entice local development.

“It’s not often that rural DeKalb County gets that opportunity,” Nicklas said. “It’ll be a fine addition to the creative history that we have in agriculture in this county for a hundred years. [Northern Illinois University] and Kishwaukee College in particular are very excited about this.”

Syngenta, based in Switzerland, is a global agriculture company that produced chemicals for the ag industry and seeds, and employs around 28,000 people, according to city documents.

They plan to build a 96,0000-square-foot campus on a 24-acre site on the northeast corner of Route 38 and Willrett Road, which will include office space, a customer service center, laboratories, greenhouses and some warehousing, documents show.

“That would be really something,” DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith said. “Not only for Kish but for the entire area of the county.”

The company applied for inclusion in the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone, which currently caps its capacity at
15 square miles. Recent amendments to the program have paved the way for other developments in the city's more rural spaces, including Ferrara Candy Company and a yet unidentified data center known as Project Ventus on the city's south side.

The city of DeKalb is one of seven municipal entities that has been tasked with voting on the amendment to prepare for the agribusiness. The DeKalb County Board approved the measure during its meeting Wednesday.

While in its development agreement stages, Syngenta’s plans were nicknamed Project Buffalo, and Paul Borek, executive director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, said the company offers the type of ag-based business and research that pairs well with the county’s history.

“The company intends to invest in a world-class R&D, innovation and customer experience center in DeKalb County,” Borek said. “This would allow them to showcase leading seeds and technologies, and collaborate with farmers in the U.S. corn belt.”

If approved in the zone, Syngenta would add about 26.7 acres of space to the zone’s parameters.

“We’re just delighted to be one of the participating governmental units that are involved in voting on such things,” Nicklas said.