Longtime Bolingbrook Mayor Roger C. Claar gave his 30th annual “State of the Village” presentation last week in front an enthusiastic crowd of approximately 800 Bolingbrook Chamber of Commerce members and citizens.
The event was hosted by the Bolingbrook Chamber of Commerce, led by Executive Director Kevin O’Keeffe.
In a climate of statewide budgetary stress and under-performing economic expectations, Bolingbrook remains a bright spot.
Claar shared the macro numbers and the stories of so many of the companies and entrepreneurs, from WeatherTech to Swap.com, that have made a difference in Bolingbrook.
"Our motto is basically the sooner you make money, the sooner we make money," Claar recently told the Illinois Business Daily. "If there is a business we like, we do what we can to get them up and operating because that is when they start paying the taxes we need to support us."
Since 1986, Claar said business licenses are up 640 percent, 35,000 jobs have been created, annual retail sales are up 887 percent, 33 million square feet of industrial space has been built up from 100,000 square feet, 11,000 news homes have been built and a total of 1,000 hotel rooms now exist -- where there were none in the 1980s.
"We have one of the largest industrial business parks in the state, perhaps even the Midwest," Claar said. "It just continues to grow."
For the past eight years, Bolingbrook has been ranked as one of the Top 50 places to live in the U.S. by Money Magazine.
"One of the major factors in the whole selection process is they look at all of our economic considerations," Claar said. "They look at schools, parks, libraries, churches, businesses, jobs and diversity. Diversity is a big part of it. Bolingbrook is probably about as diverse as any major city and it is a go-along-get-along town in most aspects."
Bolingbrook appears to be doing a lot right, and that is being recognized and emulated by counties across the Land of Lincoln.
"I do get calls from other mayors asking about different things and what would you do in this case and that case and so forth," Claar said. "I do share my experiences that I learned through the school of hard knocks. I like to give them the plus and minus, up and down side. I think if you look where we have gotten over the past several years it is kind of hard to argue against it."
The steady, balanced hand of Bolingbrook's leadership over the past several years, and participation of so many of the city's citizens and businesses has contributed to a remarkable political entrepreneurial success story.
"We are in a good shape in most respects," Claar said. "Bolingbrook is a good place to do business and that is the atmosphere that I’ve tried to create. We are doing OK."