Elgin is, as you can imagine, bracing for some major growth in its population. A couple of hundred new jobs wouldn't mean much for larger cities, but when you're talking about a town commonly known as a rural community, it's a huge deal.
Is Elgin ready for all the new people? 7News discovered that the answer is both yes and no. Elgin has been preparing for this cannon construction for years and at one point, it was scrapped. Even then, the city and school leaders continued to press forward with expansion plans; which turned out to be a good thing, despite the setback. Mayor Larry Thoma says Elgin's infrastructure is a constant conversation at City Hall. "It's a good problem to have and we're looking at ways to expand water sewers, roads, but it's a good situation to be growing instead of dying," he said.
Elgin Schools Superintendent Tom Crimmins has watched as homes have been built and families moved in. "Elgin is no longer a rural school, we're calling ourselves a rapidly growing school district," he said. He's had 60 new students enroll this year alone and is expecting many more once BAE and BRAC jobs move in.
Fortunately voters were able to envision what the future had in store for them. They passed a nearly $9.5 million bond issue last year to build the new high school. "We'll be able shift our student population around into our existing buildings plus new high school building and make space for additional students," said Crimmins.
Builders and developers are making sure there are plenty of places for new students and families to live. "This summer it's been as fast as we're building them, we're getting rid of them," Crimmins said. And it's not just locals stimulating the housing market in Elgin. "We've got a lot of people coming from out of state buying homes here," he said. "People from California who like the small community," are buying property too he says. This will likely mean that the district will have to ask voters for more financial assistance in the near future. But, aside from that;Elgin is booming!