Champaign to offer incentives to Yahoo for expansion

By Angelica Lavito

The Champaign City Council directed city staff to negotiate development incentives with Yahoo at Tuesday’s meeting. Yahoo has an office in Research Park and was exploring expanding at either that office or another location, depending on the incentives Champaign offered. The council will likely vote on the measure at next week’s meeting.

The council voted 8-0 to allow the staff to move forward with incentives that will give Yahoo $3 per-square-foot built and $1,000 per new-employee-hired.

“These are the kinds of jobs we’re trying to generate in the community,” Deputy City Manager Craig Rost said at the meeting. “We need a deeper technology employment base than we have right now so we can attract companies to the community on a consistent basis and this is an opportunity for us to add significant amount of employment.”

Yahoo’s Research Park location opened in 2007 and is 24,000 square feet. It is the largest employer in Research Park and has over 90 full-time employees.

Fox Development Corporation, the developer of the Research Park, is negotiating a lease with Yahoo for a building in Research Park, according to the special report. The proposed building is 40,000 square feet and can house more than 250 employees.

“(Yahoo is) actively recruiting talent from regional schools and putting a lot of effort into bringing talent from other parts of the country to Champaign and be residents of the Champaign area and spend money at local businesses and pay taxes,” said Catherine Singer, senior engineering director in Yahoo’s Champaign office at the meeting.

Council member Vic McIntosh, District 3, explained that he supports the measure because not only will it bring jobs and new citizens to the Champaign community, but the new employees will bring their families with them, thus contributing to the economy.

Director of Research Park Laura Frerichs spoke at the meeting in support of offering Yahoo an expansion in part because of its support of the community and the University. She cited examples such as Yahoo donating computers to the University and supporting its research institutes.

Frerichs also included that she supports offering incentives because of the impact having Yahoo at Research Park has on local economic development.

“We have many large corporations that have originated in Illinois and have a presence in technology and research and are in Champaign, but this corporation, although we have other California corporations, is a household name,” Frerichs said.

Multiple council members said this expansion is important to developing a technology community in the area, and two expressed the desire to create an economic plan for the city.

Angelica can be reached at [email protected]