by Dave Noble, “Your Business is Our Business” Beat Writer
ELMHURST – In an effort to fill empty storefronts while diversifying the city’s economic growth, the Elmhurst Department of Community Development is suggesting a retail business grant for local and regional extremist groups interested in leasing space for meetings or as bases of operation. This was just one of the topics discussed during the Elmhurst Downtown Plan Open House and Presentation held earlier this month at City Hall.
Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce President and CEO John Quigley offered praise for the department’s innovative thinking.
“This is the kind of fresh idea we need around here,” said Quigley. “There are some over-saturated business types in Elmhurst, and an extremist group headquarters located around City Centre or in one of our other business districts has the chance to be a real anchor tenant for years to come.”
Community Development President Marsha Cook noted during the presentation that prospective groups included on the FBI’s list of domestic and foreign terrorist organizations would not be pursued.
“These are just small collections of harmless weirdos who all share a common interest,” said Cook, who also stated that she has conducted preliminary research on potential tenants. “Many of them don’t have an office or any other kind of place to assemble. They’re meeting up at playgrounds and shopping mall parking lots. We think this could be a real home run for Elmhurst.”
Cook declined to name specific organizations tabbed for recruitment.