Tech firm AKHAN celebrates move into Gurnee
With pageantry including the Warren Township High School band, AKHAN Semiconductor celebrated a long-awaited move into a Gurnee business park Friday.
Company founder and Chief Executive Officer Adam Khan told the crowd of roughly 75 politicians, community leaders and others that production will begin early next year for products using cutting-edge, diamond-film semiconductors.
In particular, AKHAN plans to make a diamond "window" in the Gurnee facility for high-powered lasers and other products for sale to the military defense industry.
"This is highly impactful technology not only to national security as well as the industrial ongoings, but it's a technology platform to really sink our teeth into and launch from here," Khan said to the crowd that was treated to breakfast goodies and the Warren band before a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony.
AKHAN has had a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory to develop technology using energy-efficient diamond film as semiconductors. Argonne has granted an exclusive licensing agreement for the technology to AKHAN, which is expected to become the first U.S. company to fully develop the process for industries such as aviation, defense and power.
Khan, a Gurnee native, said use of diamond semiconductors, rather than silicon, means devices can be made thinner and operate at higher temperatures, benefiting smartphones and "wearable" technology such as Google Glass.
Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano was one of the politicians who spoke Friday. Hultgren's 14th Congressional District includes some of Gurnee.
Hultgren said AKHAN fits into his efforts in Washington to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning by young students. He said good-paying jobs at AKHAN could be the end result for those pupils.
"We are talking with members of Congress, House and Senate of how can we inspire our young people ... to see opportunity right here (at AKHAN)," Hultgren said. "That if they are willing to invest their lives at a young age -- middle school, early high school or even earlier than that -- to see that there is great opportunity right here to be a scientist, to be an engineer, to be a mathematician, to be able to discover new technologies that no one else has thought of and to bring them to market."
Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake said it was a long road for AKHAN to take into the Gurnee office park since the company's plan was revealed in September 2014. She said AKHAN will be a catalyst for job growth in Lake County as it leads "Diamond Prairie."
"I really got the sense that it was more than just making money for him," Bush said as she recalled how she and Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik helped bring AKHAN to the village. "It was changing how we move about in our world, but having an impact on where he came from."
Documents show a $2.3 million package of local incentives would include property tax abatements from the Warren and Woodland school districts, Gurnee Park District and Warren Township government.
Approved early this year, Gurnee's end of the deal requires the village to reimburse a maximum of $1.5 million in sales tax to AKHAN over five years, unless the dollar total is reached earlier. AKHAN would receive the money only if it generates sales tax, according to the agreement.
About $3.5 million in income tax breaks also have been sought by AKHAN from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity