Written by Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News. November 24, 2015.
A high tech, technology support company will move to the former Aurora Public Library building in downtown Aurora. Support Companies, LLC, which provides tech support to manufacturers of electronics, among other things, will bring about 100 jobs to downtown Aurora, purchasing and renovating the former library building at Stolp Avenue and Benton Street.
Announcement of the arrangement was made Monday afternoon in the old library building by officials from Support Companies, the city of Aurora, the Aurora Public Library, and Invest Aurora, the city's redevelopment corporation formerly known as Seize the Future.
"Only six months after the library relocated to its new building, there is a viable plan to repurpose another building," said Mayor Tom Weisner. "For 20 years this has been a premier technology company. I'm really impressed with these folks, not just what they do, but how they do it. They are progressive in the way they work with their folks."
Support Companies, LLC, or The Support Companies, and its sister companies, are among the premiere technical and customer support enterprises in the Midwest, according to city officials. Ron Janusz, The Support Companies president, said his company has been around a little more than 20 years, based on the far East Side of Aurora. About 75 percent of the company's 100 employees live in Aurora.
Residents surrounded the Aurora Public Library to give it a symbolic group hug as it closed its doors for the last time in Aurora in May as a new main library facility was opened. On Monday it was announced a high tech company will take over the old library buliding. (Sean King / The Beacon-News)
Clients include large counties, banking institutions, hotels and national corporate users. The former library building will house its 24-hour, seven-days-a-week contact center, training and product labs, IT server operations and administrative offices. Janusz estimated the company will open operations in the former library building by the middle of 2016.
The company will buy the building from the library for $10. It will make a $50,000 donation to the Aurora Library Foundation for each of the next five years, a total $250,000 donation. Officials said the company will close on the property before the end of the year.
John Savage, Library Board president, said as part of the deal, the library will be able to continue to house its bookmobile in the garage at the back of the old building. The library will reimburse Invest Aurora $25,000 for brokering the deal, and putting together the request for proposals necessary to market the library building.
Also, the property will go on the property tax rolls for the first time ever, benefiting all Aurora taxing bodies, particularly East Aurora School District 131.
"We faced a dilemma as to what to do with this building," Savage said. "We focused on putting it back on the tax rolls."
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Savage said the library reached out to Invest Aurora for help in marketing the building. The redevelopment company put out requests for proposals, but got only one possible viable answer from a company that was unable to finalize a deal, said David Hulseberg, Invest Aurora CEO. Hulseberg said the deal with The Support Companies came about as the result of a routine retention visit from Invest Aurora. Support Companies complained that is taxes were too high in its current location, and Hulseberg suggested they "look at the downtown."
Janusz said the key factors in taking the former library building was: it was already hooked up to Onlight Aurora, the city's 62-mile fiber optic network; and the proximity to Waubonsee Community College's downtown campus, which can "be a great source of talent for us."
"And it's a great old building," Janusz said. "We can do some special things with it."
Weisner pointed out that Onlight Aurora was a key factor, because the company needs a lot of bandwidth for its work. He said with 100 employees relocating downtown, it's like the "third leg of the stool" for a downtown already committed to residential and entertainment uses.
"It takes people, and it takes people with jobs," Weisner said.
The Library Board last week approved its part of the arrangement, which the city still has to approve through an intergovernmental agreement with the library. That arrangement should be coming through the City Council pipeline, through the Finance Committee to start with, soon.
The 1904 Aurora Public Library at Stolp Avenue and Benton Street doesn't have a morsel of reading material left inside, but that didn't stop the memories from rushing in.
Monday's announcement also was the official debut of Invest Aurora, the name which the former Seize the Future board approved several weeks ago but has not officially announced. To make it official still needs state of Illinois approval, but the company is using the name now, which Hulseberg said fits the not-for-profit company's mission better.
"Seize the Future is a fine name, but it doesn't tell you what we do, and where it is," he said. "We invest in Aurora. It suits our mission better."