Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Navistar Eyes Former Motorola Building

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McHenry County and regional agencies have been trying to entice truck and engine manufacturer Navistar into relocating its headquarters to the former Motorola building in Harvard. Even though most involved admit that the move is unlikely, the City of Harvard, McHenry County Economic Development Corporation, lawmakers and others worked together to present a united front to Navistar. Navistar, currently located in Warrenville, is considering a move to Lisle and occupying the former headquarters of Alcatel-Lucent. Pollution and noise concerns, as well as the need to demolish and build on the Lisle site, have hampered the company’s move during the last few months. Harvard city staff heard of the conflict and decided to mobilize and direct Navistar’s attention to the former Motorola building, currently called the Midwest Corporate Campus and owned by Optima Ventures. “We took a two-pronged approach,” said McHenry County EDC President Pam Cumpata. She said that the EDC used networking to appeal to Navistar. McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler was friends with a friend of Navistar CEO Daniel Ustian. “We wanted him to know there were other buildings open in the state of Illinois,” said Cumpata. Ustian was contacted and made aware of the situation. “We try to put our best foot forward,” said Harvard Mayor Jay Nolan. “The city of Harvard is not going to stand in the way of a good company wanting to go there.” Cumpata said the EDC then contacted Illinois elected officials, including Governor Pat Quinn, and made them aware of the situation as well. “We were successful in both tasks,” said Cumpata. “(Navistar) was very impressed with the way elected officials all worked together and presented that building and McHenry County. There was a tremendous amount of communication.” She was often on the phone with Nolan twice a day. After McHenry Country organizations made the presentations during the end of May and beginning of June, Navistar is still deciding. Both Cumpata and Nolan are skeptical. “It’s a long shot,” said Nolan. He said that the biggest factor influencing Navistar’s decision is simply for the company to want the building. “It’s a tough sell because the building’s so big,” said Harvard City Administrator Dave Nelson of the 1.5 million square-foot space. “We don’t know if they have any interest in it or not.” Navistar was vague in its response to McHenry County’s efforts. “Navistar continues to assess all of its options,” said Dennis Culloton, a spokesperson for the company. “It’s aware that Harvard has presented information to Navistar. It will be part of this overall assessment.” He added that there were other candidates to be considered beyond Harvard and Lisle but would not elaborate. Cumpata said she still thinks Lyle is in first place and, even if Navistar doesn’t make the move to Harvard, the effort on behalf of county organizations has put the building in the spotlight once again. “If nothing else, this puts our name back out there,” agreed Nolan. “The city would be there to work with the state and federal governments to help offer a good package.” He said there has been some general interest from other companies in the building but did not want to comment further. “In our current economic situation, working together becomes critical,” said Cumpata. “We still think it’s an asset for the community,” said Nolan. “The right fit will come.”