'An honor for Elk Grove': Biden's trip to the suburbs Thursday is back on
A little more than a week after canceling a trip to the suburbs, President Joe Biden's planned visit to Elk Grove Village is back on Thursday, when he's expected to push his COVID-19 vaccination mandates for businesses, seek support for two spending bills, and raise some campaign cash along the way.
Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson and members of Illinois' congressional delegation including Reps. Brad Schneider and Sean Casten on Wednesday confirmed news of Biden's rescheduled appearance. The three local politicians will be among the invited guests at Biden's visit to the Elk Grove Technology Park, where a $123 million Microsoft data center campus is under construction.
Officials say Biden is expected to speak sometime after noon, ahead of a Democratic National Committee lunch and fundraiser at a local restaurant. His motorcade is then expected to make the short drive back to O'Hare International Airport to board Air Force One.
Major thoroughfares near the tech park, including Higgins Road and Oakton Street, are expected to be closed from about 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and signage will be installed to direct drivers to alternate routes, such as Algonquin Road and Landmeier Road.
Johnson said the village staff is working with White House officials to make sure Biden's visit is "as easy, safe and friendly as can be."
Biden canceled his originally scheduled Sept. 29 visit to stay in Washington to spearhead negotiations with Congress over his infrastructure legislation.
With the trip now rescheduled, Johnson reiterated earlier sentiments of what the presidential visit means to Elk Grove.
"I hear from both sides," the seven-term local mayor said of national political divisions. "I don't care if you're a Republican or Democrat. It's an honor for Elk Grove, and to spotlight Elk Grove. For me, that's the key for this."
Johnson watched Biden's speech Tuesday, when the president was at a union training center in Howell, Michigan, to tout the federal infrastructure bill. The mayor said Elk Grove's $1 billion, 85-acre tech park fits within the message of Biden's agenda of building up manufacturing, clean energy and jobs.
"I plan to tell him, 'Mr. President, this shows how local government and business can work together to bring today's newest technology, newest jobs and newest developments,'" Johnson said. "It's the poster child of what the president is preaching."
In the official presidential travel advisory, White House officials said Biden is coming to the Chicago area "to highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccine requirements."
It's believed the Elk Grove construction site was chosen because the Microsoft buildings are being built by Clayco, a commercial real estate development, engineering, architecture and construction firm that has supported Biden's vaccine mandate plan for employers with more than 100 workers. In line with the proposed Biden mandate, the company is requiring its employees to get vaccinated or tested weekly.
The firm, which has offices in Chicago, is headed by Bob Clark, a major Democratic donor who has helped raise funds for Biden and former President Barack Obama.
Biden on Sept. 16 appointed Clark as the top U.S. government representative to Expo 2020 Dubai, a six-month world's fair that opened last Friday.
The presidential visit marks his second trip to Illinois since the inauguration, after a July 7 tour and speech at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, where he also pitched his infrastructure plan.
On the way back from that appearance, owners of Mount Prospect's Capannari Ice Cream delivered some of their famous scoops to Air Force One.
Biden visited the shop when he was vice president in 2009 -- and he'll only be miles away on Thursday -- but co-owner Meg Capannari said there weren't any plans in the works for a visit or delivery this time.
"I wish he was coming to our shop," Capannari said. "Usually we get notice. We'd love to open our doors to him."