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Market Research, Economic & Land Use Policy Analysis + Strategic Action Plan
Client: The Village of Downers Grove, Illinois
dashed line separator The Village of Downers Grove and the Economic Development Commission retained Gruen Gruen + Associates (GG+A) to conduct market and economic research and analysis in order to assess the economic conditions in and trends affecting Downers Grove, Illinois, and to provide the Village and Economic Development Commission with a comprehensive economic development strategy. GG+A's research and analysis included:
  • Developing an information base and strategic framework for the implementation of an ongoing economic development program;
  • Developing forecasts of employment and building space demand to support land use planning and economic development planning;
  • Identifying opportunities and constraints for attracting and retaining desirable businesses;
  • Identifying the comparative advantages that these target industries derive from a Downers Grove location; and
  • Identifying the economic development policies and actions that enhance private sector economic conditions and capabilities.

In order to assemble the information and insights needed for the strategic action plan, GG+A performed the following principal tasks:
  1. Data collection and analysis of relevant demographic, housing and labor force characteristics, including an analysis of the 2000 Downers Grove Citizen Survey;
  2. Data collection and econometric analysis of employment change and shifts in the share of employment by economic sector over time and between areas within the local and regional economies in order to: (a) derive a profile of the economic structure and employment base of Downers Grove and its relative position in the regional economy; (b) prepare projections of employment growth by economic sector; and (c) identify potential growth industries for Downers Grove;
  3. A survey and analysis of its results of a sample of industrial and non-industrial firms, and interviews with property owners, real estate developers and real estate brokers, and municipal and economic development professionals to: (a) identify the assets and liabilities of Downers Grove from the perspective of firms that are currently located in the community; (b) ascertain the factors important in attracting new firms and encouraging the health and retention of existing firms in Downers Grove and to identify the factors inhibiting industrial and non-industrial development; and (c) obtain insights on the types of industries likely to be attracted to and expand in Downers Grove;
  4. Reconnaissance of retailing conditions in Downers Grove to: (a) compile an information base on retail sales' activity; (b) complete an assessment of the relative strengths and weaknesses of Downers Grove's retailing base and the degree to which Downers Grove retailers and commercial businesses are serving or capturing local dollars; (c) estimate the demand for retail space; and (d) provide perspective for the retail trade employment forecast made in the shift-share employment analysis;
  5. Based on the results of the demographic, labor force and econometric analysis, and survey and interviews, estimated the amount of building space and land required to accommodate forecast employment growth. We identified office and industrial building and land supply conditions and the relationship between demand and supply conditions;
  6. In light of the primary and secondary research and evolving Downers Grove economy, described several emerging work force trends and identified relevant policy implications;
  7. Completed an analysis of planning policies and zoning regulations with particular reference to Ogden Avenue, a commercial area the Village has sought to revitalize through the creation of a master plan and the formation of a Tax Increment Financing District (TIF). This analysis focused on the real estate economics that relate to the determinants of land use changes in order to identify how present public polices and regulations interact with land use/real estate market conditions and development costs to affect property development, redevelopment, remodeling and maintenance decision of owners and would-be buyers; and
  8. Synthesized the results, conclusions and recommendations associated with the research and analysis undertaken by GG+A into elements of a strategic action economic development plan. The plan contains: (a) a summary of identified opportunities and constraints; (b) primary target industries; (c) the rationale for their selection; and (d) an identification of the primary geographic areas from which businesses can be expected to be attracted. The plan reflects the resources and strengths of the community and identifies the locally-implementable policies and actions that will help indigenous and complementary new businesses create and sustain their competitive advantages so they succeed, remain and grow in Downers Grove.

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