Meet the candidate: Gowri Magati
This is the second in a series of profiles of the five candidates for the three trustee positions on the Buffalo Grove Village Board. All candidates were sent the same questions. The answers are exactly as they were submitted. Profiles are being presented in alphabetical order. Candidate Les Ottenheimer’s profile will be posted tomorrow.
How long have you lived in Buffalo Grove?
Please provide brief biographical information.
I have lived in Buffalo Grove for the last 16 years with my family and my two boys. My family enjoyed every aspect of Buffalo Grove facilities including schools, parks, baseball fields and finally basketball facilities. My kids extensively used BGRA facilities throughout their childhood. Even though, my kids graduated out of Stevenson, my family decided to continue to live in Buffalo Grove because we love this place.
In regards to my professional career, I am an IT consultant. I have worked for Fortune 500 companies like Walgreens and Johnson Controls and helped solve complex problems using project management skills, vendor negotiating, evaluating processes and delivering projects on time on budget. As a trustee, I would bring my project management experience to board to solve our community critical issues effectively.
Are you affiliated with any political party? If so, to what extent are you being supported by that party?
I am running as an Independant.
What civic activities, if any, have you been involved with?
One of my core strengths is building community engagements and connecting with people. I have developed, organized several cultural programs. Conducted several College prep programs to high school students to prepare for ACT and SAT. Actively engaged in religious and temple charity events. Organized multiple events to encourage the traditions in young children. I also am involved in local elections to better our community.
Why are you running for the Village Board?
We need Fresh New ideas with efficient, effective and influential leaders to implement them. I am that Type of leader. I will bring my project management skills to the table to solve our problems on time and on budget.
The village board has been well meaning in trying to bring downtown to our town center. But for the last 16 years that I have lived here in BG, we have been involved in planning and assessing the downtown but no definitive action has been taken. While we have been arguing about where the site would go and what form it should take, Venom hills, Wheeling and Deer park have actually completed developments.
It is time to get this done and we need to build our downtown and bring smart business development in our community. With the changes in the marketplace, the standard retail based development will not work. We need to build an entertainment focused development similar to the Rosemont has. This will attract young families and professionals to spend money and contribute to our tax base without burdening our citizens.
In addition to building a downtown, we would need to deal with the tremendous amount of vacancies that the village has on Dundee Rd and Chase Plaza and keep our current businesses thriving by providing necessary incentives to them and reducing the excessive regulations that are inflicted upon. VBG’s red-tape is hurting both businesses and residents and needs to be addressed ASAP. Even our citizens are burdened by the excessive regulations. A family was fined, required to pay permits and even had to pay for traffic control for simply putting a holidays display. Finally, we need to help our residents to commute to work with congestion free roads by smart road development.
Have you served on a village committee or commission before? If yes, which one and how long did you serve and in what capacity?
I did not have an opportunity to provide my services in any of the commissions or committees. But, you don’t have to be in any committee or commission to run for the board. In fact, an outside perspective is needed. I have a real-world experience helping my community and fortune 500 companies like Johnson Controls and Walgreens in solving their complex problems. I have used my skill set of negotiating with vendors, evaluating the processes, managing and delivering the projects on budget and on time. I will certainly use all that extensive experience to solve our community’s essential and critical issues.
How well do you think the Village has responded to the pandemic? Please explain your answer.
The village enforced CDC regulations well. However, they could have done a better job in communicating COVID information in the beginning of pandemic. The village should have been more proactive in sourcing and distributing protective gear when there was none in the market rather than waiting till late spring. It is also concerning that so many of our small businesses have closed their doors during this pandemic. I believe it is the responsibility of the village to work harder to keep these businesses open. They should have worked closer with business owners to help them obtain federal loans and grants. The village could have also helped communicate curbside services to us all. It is not too late for our village to engage more.
What ideas do you have to support businesses in Buffalo Grove that are suffering because of the pandemic?
We need to keep our business that we currently have. During the last few years so many of our existing businesses have left us. As I mentioned earlier, I believe it is the responsibility of the village to work harder to keep these businesses open. There are three reasons why businesses are leaving our village and moving to other cities. 1) Higher rental rates 2) Less financial incentives offered by a community and last but not least 3) the burden of higher regulations and government red tape. In fact, contractors often complain that our village is impossible to work in and many refuse to even do so. We need to work on the following things.
a) The Village should work hard with business owners to help them obtain federal loans and grants.
b) Until we get to a point in controlling the pandemic, we must promote and communicate the curbside services provided by these businesses to all the residents to improve their revenues.
c) Finally, we must reduce the regulations on the businesses to allow them to stand up on their own legs.
Which business development plan do you think should be a priority? Lake-Cook Road corridor, Dundee Road, Milwaukee Avenue or the Prairie View concept? Please explain your priorities.
I have lived in Buffalo Grove over 16 years and the issue of building a downtown has always been talked about but never implemented. We have lost many businesses along Lake Cook and Dundee corridor because of delays in economic development plans, while the communities around us have grown. Because of these delays our property taxes continued to grow forcing many of my neighbors to leave our community.
a) First, we need to complete building our Lake Cook Corridor project which we started planning a long time ago. This project will bring back businesses to our community. This development can not be built on the Golf course. Building on a flood plain is simply unfeasible.
b) Second, We need to revitalize Dundee corridor and Chase plaza by providing and attracting the business with needed help.
c) We need to follow through on the Prairie View plan.
Do you think the village should continue using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts to entice economic development?
Yes. I do support TIF. But just making a TIF district is not enough to attract new businesses. We have to deal with over regulation. Otherwise businesses are not going to come. In addition, we need to provide incentives to the new businesses to compensate for higher rents that BG has compared to our neighboring cities. Also, we need to bring a different downtown center like I talked about earlier.
How do you think the village should encourage redevelopment of existing retail areas that are struggling?
The Village has to build a downtown center that keeps up with current and future trends in retail. Just bringing a retail based downtown center is not a sustainable model. Retail is dying. We need fresh new ideas to bring a recreational, entertainment mixed retail complex to the downtown center to attract young families and professionals to spend their money in our village rather than spending their money in our neighbouring cities like Vernon Hills, Mundalien and Schaumburg etc.
As mentioned earlier, the village needs to address the lack of financial incentives offered to the businesses and reduce the high burden of regulations that exists in our village. We need to make sure our businesses get the help they need to address all of these issues. We do not want to see our new downtown center that duplicates the problems of the Dundee corridor and Chase plaza.
Some of our volunteer groups (commissions, committees) have seen shrinking membership. What would you do to engage the community on a broader scale? Do you think the “Engage BG” initiative is an effective program to get residents involved? What would you do to encourage broader demographic participation?
Most people haven’t heard of Enage BG. We need to show successes to excite our residents to get involved.
Do you think the Village communicates well with residents? If not, how can it be improved?
The village has improved the communications by opening up the development process to our residents. However, we need to modernize our communications to reflect new ways of communications. Social media efforts need to be improved.
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