In Testa’s case, a little help from the local government didn’t hurt matters, either.
Founded in 1912, Testa Produce is based in an industrial zone that once was home to the Chicago Stockyards, which closed 40 years ago. As part of broader efforts to encourage business investment and job creation in the area, Chicago effectively gave land to Testa for the project in 2009, selling to the company property previously owned by the city — and valued at $1.6 million — for $1.
Additionally, Testa received a property tax break valued at $1.17 million over the next 12 years, according to a spokesman with Chicago’s housing and economic development department.
Peter Testa, the company’s president and a grandson of the distributor’s founder, said the longer-term dividends from the new building will be well worth the investments.
By 2012, the company expects to gain platinum-level LEED certification, which would make it the first foodservice facility in the country to have that status, Peter Testa says.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The four-level LEED ratings system scores buildings based on their energy and water use and carbon dioxide emissions, with bronze the lowest and platinum the highest.
Testa says expanding on the green movement ties in well to his company’s role in the fresh produce industry.
“We work with farmers, we work with growers, we work with shippers,” Testa said. “All of them deal with Mother Nature and Mother Nature is very important. And so anything you can do to enhance your environment or reduce your carbon footprint is the way to go.”