Busy businesses

Jennifer Bailey|Commercial-NewsConstruction continues earlier last month on the new Villas of Holly Brook senior assisted living facility on North Bowman Avenue. The project was one of several started across Vermilion County during 2018.

A new assisted living facility, hotels and other potential redevelopment are some of the projects local officials are looking forward to in 2019.

Vermilion Advantage President and CEO Vicki Haugen said Vermilion Advantage worked on 36 projects in 2018, with nine of those still pending.

Some of those from 2018 included the Day’s Hotel acquisition and restoration; Love’s Travel Center in Oakwood; former Kmart site that includes Planet Fitness, which has seen brisk business, and a storage facility; and Watchfire’s temporary additional space at the back of Genpact needed for its Las Vegas Fremont Street canopy project. The $30 million project with Watchfire is expected to be completed in 2019.

Retail development projects continuing include at the corner of Fairchild and Vermilion streets at the former Gulick’s and Speed Lube site and also on the intersection's southeast corner next to the First Farmers Bank and Trust.

Haugen said the land on the Hazel Street side is part of the Danville High School campus corridor. There is redevelopment interest on the Vermilion Street side.

The northwest corner of Fairchild and Vermilion streets is coming closer to having two signed retail development leases. Announcements will come after both are signed, Haugen said.

In Vermilion County, officials are working with a developer on the south side of the interstate at Oakwood. They hope to hear something in the first quarter of 2019.

Mad Goat Coffee is expanding to a second location at the former Wright Motor Co. site on South Gilbert Street. The owners wanted more space for roasting and other activities.

OSF’s urgent care facility is coming right along on North Vermilion Street in front of Meijer. It should be completed in the spring. The second parcel next to it still is not committed to any development.

In big expansion news in 2018, Flex-N-Gate will add 135 jobs to its 134 full-time employees by 2021. Danville City Council members approved $80,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to assist with machinery for the company expansion for four new products from Ford and Toyota.

Flex-N-Gate, 3403 Lynch Creek Drive, will construct a 55,000-square-foot addition to its existing 52,000-square-foot facility. Total investment is estimated at more than $18 million.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity already approved $1.198 million in Economic Development for a Growing Economy Tax Credit Program (EDGE) tax credits for Flex-N-Gate Plastics Corporation’s Danville project. Construction is expected to be completed by fall of 2019.

Burger King’s expansion on East Main Street also started in 2018, and other expansions were seen at AutoZone and Vermilion Valley Produce.

Haugen said other projects have involved specialty food manufacturing, professional development and others with possible investments ranging from about $25 million to $90 million.

Marriott Suites hotel in the Eastgate, Lynch Road area is expected to be completed this year after seeing a slowdown in construction.

In Hoopeston, plans continue for a hotel and other development near Illinois Routes 1 and 9.

Vermilion Advantage also continues to work with land bank officials on properties.

Solar energy has remained popular with inquires. A request for a special-use permit is coming up at a zoning meeting in January that would allow a community solar garden in the agricultural zoning district in the 14000 block of Old Ottawa Road and at 21168 North and 1400 East roads.

An assisted living facility The Villas at Holly Brook on North Bowman Avenue is expected to open this year.

Tilton also saw development continue, with Illinois Route 1 improvements moving forward, Autumn Fields being finished and other retail development.

Retail development in Danville also will be coming to Thornhill and Vermilion streets.

Vermilion Advantage continues to offer its help to businesses regarding professional recruitment. Of 55 local job candidates in 2018, 25 of those were hired and all but one lives in Vermilion County, Haugen said. About 28 of those are still pending, she added.

In Workforce Development, Vermilion Advantage staff continues to provide career services in most local high schools. Instead of having another Tour of Industries, Vermilion Advantage is planning a Tour of Innovation in late spring to show industry technologies to students.

The Leadership Tomorrow program will see its 31st Class in 2019. Around 680 people have gone through the program.

“As an aging community, it gets young people involved in the process,” Haugen said about community involvement.

Vermilion Advantage continues to work with county villages and boards on projects such as infrastructure, water systems, storm drainage, parks and grant writing.

Haugen said member roundtable discussions continue to be popular with sponsors and attendees. She said it’s been important for business connections.

The Lift Off Downtown shared work space also opened in 2018.

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