Quinn touts firm’s expansion to Elgin
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN on Twitter October 15, 2013 1:54PM
Gov. Pat Quinn at the grand opening of FER-PAL in Elgin Tuesday. | Mike Danahey/Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 17, 2013 6:17AM
ELGIN — Gov. Pat Quinn came to town Tuesday morning to tout the arrival of a new business and his role in bringing the company to Illinois.
Toronto-based FER-PAL Construction provides water main rehabilitation services to municipalities. As an angioplasty or stent is to a damaged artery, FER-PAL technology places cured-in-place pipe inside existing mains, eliminating the need to dig trenches and completely replace old lines.
“Elgin is very happy FER-PAL has chosen us for its United States headquarters,” Mayor David Kaptain said during Tuesday’s ribbon cutting event, on the far-southeast side of town in an industrial area off Gasket Drive.
Kaptain recalled a discussion about 18 months ago that he had with Quinn about looking outside boundaries to bring businesses to Elgin.
FER-PAL CEO Shaun McKaigue noted that the company opened its first U.S. office six years ago in Taylor, Mich. Staff from the company visited Illinois last fall, and Quinn made a visit last year to the company’s Toronto office. McKaigue said it was impossible to say “no” to the governor’s office and that state officials have offered nothing but help.
After kidding his hosts a bit about the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, Quinn said his November visit was tied to another sport — the 100th Gray Cup, the Canadian Football League championship won by the Toronto Argonauts.
Quinn noted that FER-PAL’s technology extends investment dollars and claimed it saved the city of Toronto 30 percent compared to what it would have cost had it decided to dig up and replace old water mains with new ones.
Companies such as FER-PAL stand to gain from Quinn’s 2012, federally funded $1 billion Clean Water Initiative, which still has a considerable amount left to be doled out on the table. In his speech, Quinn mentioned Danish water pump makers Grundfos, which this year moved its U.S. headquarters from Kansas to Downers Grove. That was where he was heading Tuesday afternoon to honor Downers Grove North High School student and homecoming queen Ann Wagner, who has Down syndrome and recently battled leukemia.
Adam Pollet, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said the state provided a modest incentive to FER-PAL in the form of a $268,000 Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit.
The credits are tied to FER-PAL hiring at least 18 people. Officials said the company currently employs 15 people in Elgin and hopes to grow its staff to 50 in a year and to 150 in three years, while also using 200 subcontractors.
According to published reports, Grundfos requested no incentives for coming to Illinois.
Kaptain said Elgin is providing no incentives of its own.
FER-PAL technology has been used in Illinois municipalities including Oak Park, Streator, Joliet and Naperville. Naperville Mayor George Pradel was at the FER-PAL grand opening Tuesday and said his city used FER-PAL technology more than 10 years ago and has been happy with the results.
“I’m here to congratulate them for coming to Illinois,” Pradel said. “And the success of one town in drawing new business benefits us all.”
Elgin Water Director Kyla Jacobsen said Elgin has used a product similar to what FER-PAL has to mend old sewer lines, but not on pipes moving potable water.
Jacobsen said FER-PAL’s product could be considered for a project held until next year involving a section of deeply buried main that goes under the Fox River from near Route 31 and Kimball Street to not far from McBride Street off the east bank.