The Village of Mokena, Illinois

November 30, 2023

The Village of Mokena, Illinois

The Place to Be for Business


An enviable location and a pro-business attitude foster positive growth and development for the residents of Mokena, Illinois

The Village of Mokena, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, lies about 35 miles southwest of the Windy City. With such a key location, the community is ripe for welcoming new residents and fostering further business development.

Village officials are hard at work ensuring that the residents continue to receive the amenities they have come to expect while keeping a keen eye on future growth. The community is also open for business as we round out the final quarter of 2023. For this little gem of a community, the new year holds much potential.

Modern Mokena is business-friendly

Mokena is home to five major industry sectors: manufacturing, healthcare, retail, accommodation and food service, and education. Large employers include Altorfer CAT, a local Caterpillar equipment dealer; Provisur Technologies, a manufacturer of food processing machines; Gordon Electric, a full-line wholesale electrical distributor; and ABC Supply Co., a roofing and building materials supply store.

According to Assistant Village Administrator Greg Anderson, Mokena’s growth has largely been due to its strategic location for business development. “I think our transportation infrastructure is very advantageous to the village,” he notes.

“We’re located along Interstate 80, which is a major cross-country interstate, with 130,000 vehicles traveling east and west daily. We also have two major state routes with prime commercial development opportunities – Route 45/LaGrange, and Route 30. We also have two Metra train stations that have trains going directly to Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station. As far as airports, we’re 25 miles from Midway and 45 miles from O’Hare.”

There is another aspect about Mokena’s location that makes it an attractive place to set up shop: it borders Cook County to the east, but it is located in Will County, which offers lower tax rates than its neighbor. “We’ve had numerous businesses that have come across the border, with no additional incentives other than going from Cook County to Will County,” explains Village Administrator John Tomasoski. “Essentially, it’s like being in the same location.”

But Mokena doesn’t get by just on its unique geography alone. “We have a very pro-business attitude,” says Anderson. “We have a development process that’s led by our Village Board, and implemented by Village staff, where we provide feedback and guidance throughout the entire development process to petitioners who come in. We offer a conceptual review with the Village Board before projects go to planning and zoning; we then have a committee that focuses on the site plan and architectural review of all of our developments by a committee of professional architects and engineers who evaluate all of those projects and recommendations before going back to our Village Board, which then takes in everything that has been added and changed throughout the process, does a final review, and makes their recommendations before offering final approval for all of our commercial development.”

The Village also offers several incentives for new and expanding businesses. “We have a downtown TIF (Tax Increment Financing) to promote business development,” Anderson continues.

“We freeze the tax base of the properties in the district, and we offer TIF-eligible cost reimbursements for rehabilitation, renovation, property acquisition, professional services, interior/exterior work, demolition, etc. We have many turnkey sites available for businesses, and we have no commercial development impact fees for commercial development.”

“We also have sales tax rebates, no utility tax for our businesses, and the lowest property tax rate in Will County. We have a grant program for downtown businesses for façade and sign improvements, and we have supportive partnerships with the Will County Center for Economic Development, as well as our Mokena Chamber of Commerce.”

“Another area where the Village has been very proactive is our utilities,” Tomasoski adds.

“We’ve had Lake Michigan water here since 2002; a lot of our neighboring communities are now starting to work together to try to get to that. Regarding our wastewater treatment plant — we did a significant upgrade that was completed earlier this year at $11.2 million and we paid for that all with funding set aside.”

He continues, “The value of that for our residents, our customers and our businesses is that our water and sewer is in a very strong position from a quality service perspective, now. The Village did a lot of the heavy lifting throughout the years to save for these projects and plan for them. There won’t be high additional fees to maintain those services going forward.”

An educated workforce has many opportunities

New and expanding businesses need workers, so workforce development is a key priority in Mokena. “Mokena has a very skilled workforce – over 56% of our population has an Associate’s Degree or higher,” Anderson reports. “And we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the Chicagoland area – near 3%. Mokena is near Joliet Junior College, which was the first public community college in the nation. It has a lot of different programs for workforce training such as information technology, agriculture, health, public safety, and manufacturing.”

Mayor Frank Fleischer agrees: “We have a great working relationship with Joliet Junior College. If there is a business, corporation, or industrial facility that needs to train people, they can set up a program with JJC and they will help train them. JJC has been great for the community. We have a great presence of universities in the region including Northwestern, Depaul, Loyola, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois. We have a great educated workforce in Illinois.”

“Mokena is also home to the Local 597 Pipefitters Training Center,” says Anderson. “This is a state-of-the-art training facility used by the local pipefitters for apprenticeship programs such as HVAC mechanical services, the building trades, gas distribution, and welding. The program is considered by many to be one of, if not, the best construction industry apprentice program in the world.”

Melissa Fedora, Executive Director of the Mokena Chamber of Commerce adds: “Considering we’re not a big city, we’re a village, one of the things that jumps out to me in Mokena is the diversity of the opportunities for employment here. You can be in any industry that you want because there is so much opportunity in multiple different fields. We have retail, restaurants, light manufacturing, and medical facilities that have been growing in recent years. You can teach; we have multiple public and private schools and colleges. I can’t think of a field that you might want to enter that doesn’t have an opportunity here.”

Where business comes to stay

Two chief agenda items for any municipality wishing to attract and retain businesses and residents are keeping up with its infrastructure needs and addressing its environmental concerns.

The Village invests $2.6 million yearly to resurface its local roads, and in next year’s budget, a little over $1 million to make repairs to curbs, sidewalks, and street lights, and promote pedestrian accessibility. Mokena is Tree City USA, and its Hickory Creek Forest Preserve encompasses 2,000 acres in the south part of the village. All of its street lights have been converted to LED, and a new police station, nearing completion, will be heated and cooled via the installation of geothermal wells.

“We honor Arbor Day with a proclamation to protect our trees and our woodlands,” says Anderson, “We like to promote tree growth with our businesses whenever they’re coming in and developing. That’s something that our developers work closely with our Village Board to make sure that we’re promoting an eco-friendly business environment. We also hold an annual Village-wide cleanup day in April with the help of volunteers in our efforts to keep our Village clean.”

All of these efforts have proven successful and, going forward, Mokena expects its growth and development to continue apace.

“When a business decides to plant roots in Mokena, they tend to stay and expand,” says Lee Kaz, Past President of the Mokena Chamber of Commerce and current Chairman of the Mokena Economic Development Commission.

“I’ve seen a whole lot of expansion over my years here, and I’ve been here since ’96. When a business sees everything that Mokena has to offer, they tend to want to stay here.”

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Mokena, Illinois

WHAT: An incorporated village of 20,000

WHERE: 35 miles southwest of Chicago



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November 2023 Issue of Business View Civil and Municipal

November 2023

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