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Skokie Nanotech Company Closes Shop

Based at the Illinois Science and Technology Park, NanoInk Inc. ‘abruptly’ closed its doors. The company employed some 80 people, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

Skokie-based NanoInk, Inc. closed its doors earlier this month, Crain’s Chicago Business reported. The company was located at the Illinois Science and Technology Park (ISTP). Its biggest backer, Ann Lurie, who is the widow of Sam Zell’s former business partner, Robert Lurie, poured about $150 million over a decade before finally deciding to pull the plug.

Roughly 80 NanoInk employees were “abruptly” told that the company would be closing its doors in three days on Feb. 12, Crain’s reported.

In June 2012, the Village of Skokie aimed at providing nanotechnology courses at Oakton Community College (OCC), among other schools. The village was able to match the grant through downtown Skokie's TIF district.

One of the companies providing equipment to schools was NanoInk.

One of NanoInk’s assets is Nanoprofessor, a laboratory system and education curriculum for universities and schools. The company sold its equipment for about $250,000, according to Crain's.

“It was sad news,” John Carzoli, a physics professor at OCC, told Crain’s. “We’ll use the istruments they provided until we run out of supplies or it breaks down. This seemed to be a perfect tool to train people.”

Trustee on ISTP -

Skokie trustee Randy Roberts describes the ISTP as a very strong “nucleus” for the village’s economic development.

“We're trying to do our share as a partner,” Roberts said in a recent interview. “We want to show we're a good place to do business. I think it would be an attractive place to start your company. I see [the ISTP] being an economic engine for Skokie and the downtown area.

“The people that work [at the ISTP] are making a good salary and I'm hoping many of those people say, ‘Hey, why don't I buy my house here,'” he added. “It's certainly an economic driver. We're never going to see the big box and chain stores in downtown Skokie, but we’ve already started creating a very rich and vibrant, ethnic downtown.”

Read Crain’s full story

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david February 25, 2013 at 01:36 PM
This sounds like total mis-management. How do you receive this much capitol investment and become insolvent over night?
Hank February 25, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Apparently more misplaced TIF money.
kevin February 25, 2013 at 03:51 PM
sounds more like, buddy of someone in government got the money then blew it or pocketed it and company goes under
Troy February 25, 2013 at 04:24 PM
This is what happens when governments get involved in areas where they have little or no knowledge. Here's a list of green-energy companies that have gone bankrupt or are faultering (taxpayer investment in parenthesis): • Evergreen Solar ($25 million)* • SpectraWatt ($500,000)* • Solyndra ($535 million)* • Beacon Power ($43 million)* • Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million) • SunPower ($1.2 billion) • First Solar ($1.46 billion) • Babcock and Brown ($178 million) • EnerDel's subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)* • Amonix ($5.9 million) • Fisker Automotive ($529 million) • Abound Solar ($400 million)* • A123 Systems ($279 million)* • Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($700,981)* • Johnson Controls ($299 million) • Brightsource ($1.6 billion) • ECOtality ($126.2 million) • Raser Technologies ($33 million)* • Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)* • Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)* • Olsen's Crop Service and Olsen's Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)* • Range Fuels ($80 million)* • Thompson River Power ($6.5 million)* • Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)* • Azure Dynamics ($5.4 million)* • GreenVolts ($500,000) • Vestas ($50 million) • LG Chem's subsidiary Compact Power ($151 million) • Nordic Windpower ($16 million)* • Navistar ($39 million) • Satcon ($3 million)* • Konarka Technologies Inc. ($20 million)* • Mascoma Corp. ($100 million) At least Skokie has Oberweis going for it.
Michael February 25, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Troy, Hank, Kevin & David (The Four Stooges)...this was not a government funded initiative, but an privately funded initiative by a very bright lady, Mrs. Ann Lurie, who was determined to invest in emerging technologies that would provide America with high-tech jobs that usher in new scientific, technical, manufacturing and medical solutions. Some of NanoInk's senior managers were not effective; a few were; but the decision by Mrs. Lurie's investment analysts to close the entire company was flawed. The fact is that NanoInk had not received ANY federal or taxpayer funds. Mrs. Lurie's NanoInk initiative was the kind of private investment that patriotic Americans make to prepare our students and teachers, our industries and labs, and our nation's workers in a position to lead in the global competition for a prosperous future. She deserves our gratitude for her benevolent contributions to advancing America through philanthropy. I find your inaccurate comments of NanoInk's funding sources grossly insulting, given Mrs. Lurie's decade of staunch dedication and $150 million investment to the betterment of mankind. Maybe she still has time to capture those few dozen NanoInk employees who achieved what they had promised, and what she sought to continue here philanthropic objectives. (Hint: begin with educating the masses with a foundation in nanotechnology).
Joe N. February 26, 2013 at 06:10 AM
I very glad that you can speak so highly of Ann Lurie. She is a great philanthropist. Do you know the terms under which she ended things? 80 people just received their final paychecks after 3 DAYS NOTICE...NO severance, NO payment for any earned PTO/vacation days and NO option for COBRA. This after her people constantly said that the Lurie's are behind NanoInk 100% and have no intention of reducing head count (summer/fall 2012).
Brian Hickey February 26, 2013 at 02:48 PM
I am "Nano" surprised !! The entire Science and Technology Park after "only 8 years" has been quite a "nano success". Definition of NANOMETER : one billionth of a meter. Definition of NANOSCALE : having dimensions measured in nanometers <nanoscale macromolecular structures> . Good thing our city fathers only invested "Nano Bucks" , eh? Another bad Nano Skokie idea. Let's build a lot of baseball diamonds over near open sewerage treatment tanks, 'cause the "rent is cheap". Need a nano-sense of humor in Skokie....and a wallet that's OK with getting "Nano-sized". Also helps if you have a nano-brain. Ann Lurie, we neeeeed you. Please bring over a truckload of your billions, cause our city fathers are running low again. Please, before they create yet another new tax. I cannot see the park's utter failure as a reason to stop pumping in Skokie $$$ (Read my money) into it. (Yes, Skokie is STILL DOING THAT). But apparently Widow Lurie has a keener perspective on the issue. Better off putting your money into a Children's hospital.
Brian Hickey February 26, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Move along folks, there's nothing to see here. NO LITERALLY, < THERE'S NOTHING TO SEE>. Unless perhaps you own nano goggles, so you can spot a 'nano' on the ground after they turn out the lights!!
Brian Hickey February 26, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Troy, Bravo!
Brian Hickey February 26, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Why do I think "Joe N. is Joe Nano? Joe, did you miss the nano decimal point in the 100% figure....maybe .0000000100 %?
Michael February 26, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Brian obviously has too much time on his hands and too little business sense to know a good person doing great things. Here are the facts: NanoInk was a privately funded initiative by a very bright and generous lady, Mrs. Ann Lurie, who invested in emerging technologies to provide America with high-tech jobs that usher in entirely new lines of scientific, technical, manufacturing and medical solution. The results she sought (profitability) would yield funds for her to continue her philanthropic endeavors, most notably in medical science, applied medical technologies and disease remediation. While some of NanoInk's senior managers were not effective, a few were. But the recommendation made by Mrs. Lurie's investment analysts to close the entire company was flawed. Mrs. Lurie's NanoInk initiative was the kind of private investment that patriotic Americans make to prepare our students and teachers, our industries and labs, and our nation's workers in a position to lead in the global competition for a prosperous future. She deserves our gratitude for her benevolent contributions to advancing America through philanthropy. Mrs. Lurie's decade of staunch dedication and $150 million investment was to the betterment of mankind. Maybe she still has time to capture those few dozen NanoInk employees who achieved what they had promised, and what she sought to continue here philanthropic objectives. (Hint: begin with educating the masses with a foundation in nanotechnology).
Brian Hickey February 27, 2013 at 12:13 AM
But yet..still somehow...it fell flat on it's face. That ugly underbelly of capitalism. That no matter how much "other people's money" (village subsidies, federal grants, etc) that ya' throw at something, sooner or later it just has got to make a little money. Or it flops. That's the part that makes me weep so darned much, that even though I can sometimes be blind to my patriotic duty, and that I always understand "it's for the kids and our future"...would someone please shut the darned clock and calendar off? Really, what does it matter if it's never financially profitable? Seems It's the widow Lurie you should be upset with. Just not the visionary and not a great enough philanthropist for so many of us. Of course, I can only really see this because I have too much time on my hands. Has nothing to do with my rudimentary understanding of capitalism and the profit motive. And so, for those of us deeply saddened about a now much darker future, I offer the gift of music. What more joyous commodity does mankind have? What brings peace, joy and hope like music? So pure of form. Give a listen, and I will pray for consolation for all of you grieving souls. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO3gPUn24FI And for you hungry Realtors out there, you might want to see if you can dig up an ex-employee list. More homes that need selling in Skokie. And more transfer tax revenue for the village!!
Brian Tafel March 25, 2013 at 09:22 PM
I know she had to do it. But now I have no job. People wasted money stupily, but the little people worked there asses off for years. They gave me worthless stock instead of raises. I never got any training to improve myself. We presses on hard for years in all direction as hard as we could. Couldn't they just same some of it? I still have nightmare's of all the machinery , and stuff I put my soul in with red tickets on them, for sale at auction. what as waste. Next time I will know better, be Colder, like Ann Lurie. BLT
Albert Kretz March 27, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Brian, What exactly was OUR job? Who were the experts related to the technology. Check the site: www.advancedbiosensors.com. We were considering using the NanoInk technology for deposition of an exzyme for a Continuuous Glucose Sensor. Can you tell me of any working instruments and people who may be interested in helping us? Regards, Al Kretz info@advancedbiosensors.com
Brian Hickey March 30, 2013 at 04:53 PM
I wish I could Al. Nothing against Nanotech. As a former Corporate Real Estate Broker of ten years, I witnessed other towns dvevelop "Science and Research Parks".... For the most part ALL of them failed. Towns without good insightful government who haven't a clue on how to re-task or re-develop now vacant large parcels. Evanston launched it's own failed research park about 20 years ago, forcing the relocation of many of it's downtown retail merchants. It plopped with a resounding thud, forcing established retailers to incur much expense and adversity as they relocated their businesses. Not to mention theft of their business focus as they were forced into dealing with the whims of Evanston. And it failed despite the reservoir of bright young minds at Northwestern University which Evanston hoped would be the bulwark of this new park. An Evanston/Northwestern joint venture of sorts. And Skokie draws on....Oakton Community College? Really? No offense intended for students there. In fact Ann Tennes, Skokie's Director of Marketing and Communications, recently quoted the importance of OCC's involvement with the now departed Nano Ink. Really?
Brian Hickey March 30, 2013 at 05:07 PM
She just happens to be one of Mayor Van Dusens's cronies from SWANCC. (Solid Waste agency of Northern Cook County) over which Mayor VD had oversight. Yet Somehow he missed that it's last director, under his oversight, effectively embezzled nearly one million dollars of educational recompense for further education. Whoda thunk it? But our Mayor continues his role as an educator at OCC and his role as Mayor. Truly a man of many hats. Most with gaping holes in them. Seems like Ann is quoting revisionist history to me. But don't get me wrong. I truly feel bad for the now unemployed individuals of Nano Ink. You would be heartless not to feel bad for all the terminated individuals. My issue is that Skokie ever lanched such a lame project. Technology parks have a long history of failure. If you want to build one, for God's sakes, do it in Palo Alto California where it might succeed. But Skokie took the easy route. Rather than committing huge local money to a large parcel that most brokers would tell you ought to have been redeveloped as what's known as a "Lifestyle Center", they sought out funding from Governor Blago and added Skokie's own taxpayer funds to this flop. Lifestyle centers are basically PUDS (Planned Unit Developments) in real estate parlance, with a component of residential and retail use. Undertaking such a large project requires fortitude, vision and a substantial capital commitment. You won't find those entities in current Skokie governance.
Brian Hickey March 30, 2013 at 05:22 PM
To this day, Skokie throws away about another quarter million dollars annually in it's financial commitment to the park. Unlike Ann Lurie, they either cannot or will not terminate their financial investments aimed at creating success. The Park's occupancy is still substantially sub-standard after many years. A local merchant told me a large Japanese pharmaceutical concern is looking to locate or purchase a building within the complex. I pray that's true so that I can appear the ass. I am pretty good at that at times. Or at least in rankling people. If his prediction comes true it would be a huge benefit to our community. It would be like recreating the old days of Searle, or Pharmacia and Upjohn. Regardless, Forest City, the new owners of the parcel, will eventually claim a huge financial benefit for having purchased the property from Pfizer. You see, shortly after having acquired Pfizer's property, Skokie "Up-zoned" the parcel for FC's benefit. They approximately doubled the allowed FAR (floor area ratio) permitted there. In layman's terms this means FC can effectively build twice as much office or developed space on that land. That is like buying Apple stock and watching it's valuation double. Only, it was effectively a gift from the village. All aimed at creating development incentive. Minimally, it greatly increased the property's valuation so that FC ought earn a handsome profit when they eventually sell. Ultimately, small vision, small return.
Katie Gudgel March 30, 2013 at 06:31 PM
If by "she" here, you are still referring to Ann Tennes, she is also currently on the Oakton Community College school board. She is also currently on the ballot as an incumbent - one of 5 people running for 3 positions as Oakton Community College Trustee. For all Skokie voters, there are two contested races - that for Village of Skokie Trustee and that for Oakton Community College Trustee. For some in Skokie, there are also contested races for the elementary school board. However, if you live outside Skokie, it is possible that you may also be able to vote for Oakton Community College Trustee as that district encompasses many northern suburbs.

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