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Aurora: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Heavy industry helped build Aurora, with the Fox River being used for power to run saw and textile mills. As the Industrial Revolution progressed and the railroad came to town, Aurora became a manufacturer of railroad cars, including some of the first dining cars built in the United States. Some heavy industry remains in Aurora today with the Caterpillar plant, which produces construction machinery; in total, the Fox Valley Industrial Association lists more than 150 manufacturers in the area.

Warehouse and distribution centers are another major part of the economy; with the surge of office and industrial park construction during the 1980s and 1990s, Aurora has become a major distribution channel for auto parts, dry goods, construction equipment, and industrial gases.

Items and goods produced: construction machinery, steel products, tools, office and retail shelving, protective coatings, electronics

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

The Aurora Economic Development Commission (AEDC) was created in 1981 to attract and keep companies in Aurora and the Fox River Valley. It offers a number of services to businesses such as training and education, permit reviews, planning, financing, utilities and infrastructure. Aurora Downtown is an organization created to facilitate projects in the Special Service Tax Area in order to improve and develop the historic downtown area. Tax Increment Financing Zones are also a feature.

Local programs

The City of Aurora, through Aurora Downtown, provides grants for exterior restoration to renew original architectural features, and interior rehabilitation for HVAC, plumbing, structural and electrical work in the historic downtown area. The AEDC, with Waubonsee Community College, has a Small Business Center to help companies with business financing and preparation of business plans. AEDC helps businesses secure financing with tax exempt Industrial Revenue Bonds for qualified applicants.

State programs

The Illinois Development Finance Authority's mission is to issue taxable and tax-exempt bonds and make loans for businesses and non-profit groups in Illinois. They have bond and loan programs for industry and small businesses, as well as for agriculture, health care, education and local governments. The Illinois State Treasurer's Office has many economic programs for businesses, such as below-rate business loans under the Economic Recovery program, low cost financing for development of tourist and historic building restoration through the Experience Illinois Program, and the State Treasurer's Economic Program (STEP). STEP and STEP Small Business provide loans to bring in or expand businesses, and create and retain jobs.

Job training programs

The Aurora Economic Development Commission brings together prospective employers and job training providers through Waubonsee Community College and the College of Du Page. Grants are available for assistance with employee training through AEDC. Waubonsee has many programs in manufacturing and technical skills, computer skills, management training, and health and safety issues. The college also works with the Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship Training (BAT) to create apprenticeship programs with companies and organizations around the area. The Illinois Department of Employment Security and the Bureau of Workforce Development combine federal and state money to help with job seekers' training, job search and placement services, and development of core job skills.

Development Projects

With Aurora's population expanding, it's no wonder that business, retail and residential projects have been growing at a steady pace. In 2002, Aurora saw: a 127-room Hampton Inn & Suites and a 148-suite Staybridge Suites open in response to growing business and tourism in the Fox River Valley; Keson Industries, a manufacturer of marking and measuring devices, moved to Aurora and opened a 78,000 square foot facility at the Meridian Business Campus; Luse Companies, an insulation and asbestos and lead abatement contractor, opened a 50,000 square foot headquarters; and more than 1,000 new housing starts were recorded. In 2003 Kraft Foods opened an 850,000 square foot dry foods distribution center at the Prime Aurora Business Park, and Nissan North America expanded by 57,000 square feet at its distribution warehouse at the Meridian Business Park.

More than 3.2 million square feet of commercial and industrial space was developed, and $290 million spent in new investment in 2004. In that year, Chicago Premium Outlets opened, a shopping center with 120 outlet stores that added approximately 1,000 jobs to the community. Aurora University began a 5-year, $50 million plan of new construction and renovation on its campus. Hyundai Motor America expanded its operations in Aurora by opening a $17 million office and parts distribution center. A multiple-year project during the mid-2000s is a plan to upgrade Aurora Airport by building 120 new hangars, spending $7.2 million on refurbishing its runway, and building a new $3.2 million taxiway for the secondary runway.

Economic Development Information: Aurora Economic Development Council, 40 West Downer Place Aurora, IL 60507; phone (630)897-5500; fax (630)897-0469; email [email protected] Aurora Downtown, Karen Christensen, 1 South Broadway Aurora, IL 60507; telephone (630)844-3670; fax (630)906-7430; email [email protected] Illinois State Treasury Office, 100 West Randolph, Suite 15-600, Chicago, IL 60601; telephone (312)814-1700; fax (312)814-5930

Commercial Shipping

Created as a railroad town, the Burlington Northern, Santa Fe, and the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern railroads still run through town and connect to the nation's largest train gateway, Chicago. For air freight, Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports are major cargo hubs, with national and international routes. There is one motor freight terminal in Aurora, and seven carriers provide daily service, with one specializing in heavy machinery transport. I-88 runs close by, and other easily accessible Interstates are I-55, 40, I-80, I-90, I-94, and I-355.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

As Chicagoland expands its influence westward, the commuter rail link makes Aurora a viable destination for workers in Chicago to afford new and vintage homes and condominiums. As the population of the Fox Valley increases, Aurora's long history of development and fairly stable economy serves as an anchor for this growth, along with Naperville to the east. As Aurora's population is now one-third Hispanic and is likely to continue to increase, Aurora Downtown predicts that "Aurora is poised to be the major Hispanic retail center for the Chicagoland area."

The following is a summary of data regarding the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet Metropolitan Division labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 3,748,500

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 1,600

construction: 173,700

manufacturing: 402,300

trade, transportation and utilities: 763,400

information: 87,000

financial activities: 292,400

professional and business services: 601,100

educational and health services: 466,600

leisure and hospitality: 319,600

other services: 171,200

government: 469,600

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $15.44

Unemployment rate: 6.3% (February 2005)

Largest city employers Number of employees
Aurora School District #204 3,000
Caterpillar Inc. 3,000
Aurora School District #129 1,300
Aurora School District #131 1,300
Fox Valley Park District 1,300
Waubonsee Community college 1,300
City of Aurora 1,280
Rush-Copley Medical Center 1,265
LTD Commodities 1,200
Provena Mercy Center 1,200
Hollywood Casino Aurora 1,000

Cost of Living

Aurora's cost of living, as well as its housing prices, are slightly below the national average.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Aurora area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $427,451 (Chicago metro)

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 130.4 (Chicago metro) (U.S. Average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 3% of federal adjusted gross income with modification

State sales tax rate: 6.25%

Local income tax rate: none

Local sales tax rate: 0.75%

Property tax rate: $7.94 per $100 assessed valuation (2002)

Economic Information: Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, 620 East Adams, Springfield, IL 62701; toll-free (800)252-2923

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Aurora: Recreation


Aurora is home to many historic buildings and residences. A self-guided walking tour of the architecture of the downtown area is available, with historic facts sent to your cell phone, at the Aurora Area Visitor and Convention Bureau. The Stolp Island National Register Historic District in the middle of the Fox River has buildings dating from the 1850s, and has many fine examples of architectural terra cotta. The William Tanner House, an Italianate mansion, is open for tours May through December and is part of the Aurora History Center. The Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple of Greater Chicago is a beautiful Hindu Temple blending ancient design and modern architectural technology. The oldest limestone railroad roundhouse in the country has been restored and converted into Walter Payton's Roundhouse, a brew pub, museum, and live entertainment venue.

The Red Oak Nature Center, on the banks of the Fox River, is in North Aurora. It has many trails to explore, a cave (a rarity in Illinois), and a natural history museum, with an observation deck and picnic areas. The Phillips Park Zoo is free of charge and features animals from the Americas. The African American Heritage Museum and Black Veterans Archives is an amazing display of sculpture created by a self-taught artist, Dr. Charles Smith. Memorials and hundreds of figures from African American history are displayed outdoors in the yard of Dr. Smith's former home.

The riverboat Hollywood Casino Aurora has a 53,000 square foot casino with more than a thousand slot machines and table games, three restaurants, and a theater with live entertainment.

Arts and Culture

The Art Deco Paramount Theater originally opened in 1931 and was the first air-conditioned theater outside of Chicago. Magnificently restored in 1978, it now presents touring musicians, theatrical performances, improvisation, comedians, and a free film series in the summer. The Riverfront Playhouse has been producing plays since 1978, and also provides a theater series for children. The Borealis Theater Company is the professional theater in residence at Aurora University.

Music venues include Fermilab, which plays host to an eclectic range of concerts, and Walter Payton's Roundhouse, host to music and comedy performers. The Fox Valley Concert Band performs free in Aurora and surrounding communities year round. Aurora University has its Music by the Lake concert series in the summer months at the Allyn Pavilion for the Performing Arts.

The David L. Pierce Art and History Center has rotating art exhibits, as well as displays of military memorabilia from the Grand Army of the Republic. At Aurora University, the Downstairs Dunham Gallery features shows by students and local artists. Gallery 44 is a gallery for local artists showcasing many different media.

The museums and attractions of the Aurora area show great diversity in subject matter, ranging from cutting-edge science to appreciation for its prairie and frontier roots. Blackberry Farms Pioneer Village, run by the Fox Valley Park District, is a living history museum featuring the Farm Museum and its collection of nineteenth century farm implements, a Streets Museum with 11 turn-of-the-century stores, a Discovery Barn, a carousel, pony rides, and a miniature train. Pioneer craft demonstrations, a one-room schoolhouse, and buildings from the 1840s delight school groups and families May through October. The Aurora Historical Society has a collection of artifacts from Aurora's past, including three mastodon skulls unearthed in the 1930s. The Aurora Regional Fire Museum has fire fighting vehicles dating back to 1850, along with thousands of photos and artifacts. The Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures at Aurora University contains archaeological exhibits, examples of historical and contemporary Native American art, and a research library.

Sci-Tech Hands-On Museum has dozens of exhibits exploring electricity, magnetism, chemistry, life sciences, light, and physics, which make scientific concepts understandable and fun for visitors. Traveling exhibits and an outdoor science park make the museum a destination for families, schools, and scouting groups. In nearby Batavia is the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), a high energy physics lab conducting research into the mysteries of matter and energy. Visitors are welcome for tours of the facility and to enjoy the recreational and nature activities on its restored prairie land, including visiting the lab's own herd of bison. The Air Classics Museum of Aviation located at Aurora Municipal Airport has a collection of military jets, prop aircraft, and helicopters from World War II through the 1990s. Visitors are able to sit in some of the aircraft's cockpits, and view aviation uniforms and memorabilia.

Festivals and Holidays

Aurora celebrates the cold winters every February during the Phillips Park Winterfest, with dog sled rides, ice carving, skating, sledding, snowshoeing, nature hikes, and a snowman building contest. Spring brings not only flowers, but myriad events to the Fox River Valley. The Fox River Valley Park District holds an Easter Egg Hunt in April at the Prisco Community Center. In May comes the Taste of Downtown Aurora, featuring booths from area restaurants; the North Aurora Pet Parade; the Memorial Day Parade, and the Aurora Pow-Wow, with dancing, crafts and food from many different Native American tribes. In summer time, Downtown Alive! events include themed dance parties and lunchtime concerts. Blues on the Fox in June is a festival that brings national blues acts to Aurora's downtown. Fourth of July celebrations include a parade, a concert, and fireworks. Also in July is Chase the Moon, a midnight bike ride looping from Aurora to Batavia, the Puerto Rican Cultural Festival, and the Kane County Fair. In August, Soul Fest, featuring home cooked food, games, music, and the Black Business Expo, comes to May Street Park. The Midwest Literary Festival is in September, as is the Fall Harvest Festival at Blackberry Farm's Pioneer Village, and the Downtown Arts Festival. A Veterans Day parade and ceremony runs through downtown Aurora in November. Holiday Magic at the end of November welcomes Santa and Mrs. Claus with the Parade of Lights, fireworks, and a tree lighting ceremony. Through December, the paths at Phillips Park Zoo are lit with holiday lights for strolling at night.

Sports for the Spectator

Since 1991, The Kane County Cougars baseball team plays in Philip B. Elfstrom Field in nearby Geneva, Illinois. Currently a single A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, the Cougars are part of the Midwest League. Extremely popular in the area, they routinely have more than 500,000 attendees each season. Aurora's sports fans also root for teams in Chicago, like baseball's Cubs and White Sox, football's Bears, basketball's Bulls, hockey's Blackhawks and Wolves, and soccer's Fire.

Sports for the Participant

Aurora's parks are run by the Fox Valley Park District, which has 110 parks in all the communities it serves. The Eola Community Center and Fitness Club has gymnasiums, a track, dance studios, an indoor playground, baseball fields and two sand volleyball courts. The Prisco Community Center is in Aurora's McCullough Park, and was renovated in 2003. The Vaughn Athletic Center features a huge field house for team sports, a 10,000 square foot fitness center, nine tennis courts and two swimming pools. For bicyclists and runners, there are more than 30 miles on four paved trails, two of which run through Aurora. The Aurora Tennis Club is an indoor facility with year-round court times and lessons for kids and adults. The district runs two 18-hole golf courses, Fox Bend and Orchard Valley, which was rated four-stars by Golf Digest magazine. The Aurora City Golf Course, the Aurora Country Club, and six other courses are in the immediate vicinity. The Fox Valley Trail runs along the Fox River from Aurora north to Crystal Lake. The district runs Splash Country Water Park, containing a zero-depth pool, water slides, a kid's water play area, and a 1,100 foot long lazy river. The Phillips Park Aquatic Center also offers several water slides, a zero-depth pool, and kid-friendly areas.

The Sport Zone Park is a multi-sport center for the whole family. Outdoors, it features mini-golf, batting cages, and a go-cart track. The main feature is its 72,000 square foot dome, which is a driving range during the day and is converted to soccer, baseball, or softball fields in the evening. The Aurora Archery Range hosts the annual National Field Archery Association Tournament.

Shopping and Dining

Three large shopping centers are big draws to Aurora. The recently completed Chicago Premium Outlet center has 120 stores, including Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Giorgio Armani, and Kate Spade, and offers discount shopping every day. Westfield Shoppingtown Fox Valley is anchored by four large department stores and has 180 other shops. North-gate Shopping Center has several big-box retailers and other smaller stores. The Route 59 Corridor and the Randall/Orchard Road corridor are main shopping districts for Aurora, North Aurora, and Batavia. The Aurora Farmer's Market is held on Saturday mornings June through October, and is one of several in surrounding communities.

Aurora has a wide variety of family, ethnic and fine dining choices. Steak houses, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese restaurants abound. Notable is Savannah's, at the Fox Valley Mall, featuring Southern Cuisine and afternoon teas.

Visitor Information: Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 44 W. Downer Place, Aurora, IL 60506; telephone (630)897-5581; toll-free (800)477-4369; fax (630)897-5589. City of Aurora, 44 East Downer Place, Aurora, IL 60507; telephone (630)264-4636; fax (630)892-0741

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Aurora: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Three school districts operate in the city of Aurora: West Aurora District #129, East Aurora District #131, and Indian Prairie District #204. Aurora is also home to the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, a public residential high school for grades 10-12. It is internationally known as a school whose students reach the highest levels of achievement in the sciences, technology, and mathematics, by partnering with scientists at state research facilities.

The following is a summary of data regarding the three Aurora public school districts as of the 20022003 school year.

Total enrollment: 48,477

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 55

junior high/middle schools: 14

senior high schools: 5

other: 6

Student/teacher ratio: 17.8:1 (2003)

Teacher salaries (2004-2005)

minimum: $32,528

maximum: $79,193

Funding per pupil: $7,174

There are also 20 religious and Montessori private schools in the city.

Colleges and Universities

Two centers of higher learning are found in Aurora. Aurora University, with 4,300 students, has many undergraduate and graduate programs, including business, fine arts, education, nursing, and social work. Its Spartan athletics is a Division III program, with men's and women's teams in basketball, soccer, tennis, track and field, and men's baseball and football. The University has an additional campus in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. Waubonsee Community College has two-year degree programs in areas such as communications, humanities, fine arts, health and life sciences, science and technology, social sciences, and business, intended for easy transfer to four-year schools. The college has certificate programs, continuing professional education classes, distance learning, and online courses available.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Aurora Public Library has been in existence since 1881 and moved into its current residence in 1904. It was refurbished and expanded in 1969 and again in 1980. Besides the main branch, there is the Eola Road Branch on the east side of the city, and the West Branch, both built in the 1990s. A bookmobile also serves the city. In 2002 a computer training facility was installed at the library.

The Charles B. Phillips Library at Aurora University has more than 99,000 books, 518 periodical subscriptions, a multitude of research materials (including full-text online journals) and access to dozens of databases. Aurora University is home to the Schingoethe Center for Native American Cultures, a museum and research center for studies into Native American cultural artifacts. Waubonsee Community College has the Todd Library to help with its students' research needs.

There are two major national research centers in the area. The Argonne National Laboratory is run by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy. Their focus is on energy resources, high energy physics, materials sciences and nanotechnology, environmental management, and national security. The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is home to the country's largest particle accelerator, and conducts research on the very basics of energy and matter.

Public Library Information: Aurora Public Library, Main Library, 1 E. Benton Street, Aurora, IL 60505 (630)264-4100

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Aurora: History

Originally, Aurora was home to a village of 500 Potawatomi Native Americans, who traded peacefully with white settlers in the area. In 1834, Joseph and Samuel McCarty came west from New York to look for a site to build a sawmill, and they found the Fox River. An island at a bend in the river provided a great location to establish mills and factories where water power could be harnessed. At first, there were two separate settlements on either side of the river, but they merged in 1857 to form the town of Aurora. Aurora quickly developed into a manufacturing town, first known for textiles and later for heavy machinery, foundries, and machine shops. The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad extended its line to Aurora in 1849. Soon after, the railroad became the area's largest employer, locating its repair and railcar construction shops there. The repair shop necessitated the building of a roundhouse, the largest stone roundhouse constructed in the country. The railroad was the largest employer until the 1960s.

Socially, the town was very progressive from the start. The first free public school district in Illinois was started in Aurora in 1851. The town experienced an influx of European immigrants in the latter half of the nineteenth century, drawn by its industrial jobs. Abolitionist organizations appeared in Aurora before the start of the Civil War, and out of 20 congregations in 1887, two African American churches thrived. By 1870, the city had more than 10,000 residents, and by 1890 there were approximately 20,000 residentsa testament to the city's industrial development.

In 1881, Aurora was the first town in Illinois to light its streets with electric lights, which gave the city its nickname, "The City of Lights." On May 26, 1909, one of the strongest earthquakes to hit Illinois knocked over chimneys in Aurora and was felt over 500,000 square miles. In the 1910s, Aurora was home for a time to six different automobile companies, all of which were eventually unsuccessful.

Aurora continued to be a manufacturing powerhouse through both World Wars and the Great Depression. The railroad shops, which once employed 2,500 and covered 70 acres, closed in 1974, and all but three of the buildings were demolished. In the 1980s, many factories started to close, and unemployment jumped to more than 15 percent. Aurora responded to this by welcoming a riverboat casino to its downtown, developing the area around the casino, developing nearby residential communities and, most importantly, creating multiple business parks on the outer edges of the city.

Today, Aurora is enjoying a population resurgence, having increased more than 40 percent between 1990 and 2000. Businesses continue to move and expand into the area. As real estate prices go up in Chicagoland, the Fox Valley is being seen as a market waiting to be tapped.

Historical Information: Aurora Historical Society, PO Box 905, Aurora, IL 60507; telephone (630)906-0650. Aurora Preservation Commission, 1 South Broadway, Aurora, IL 60507; telephone (630)844-3648; fax (630)906-7430

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Aurora: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

The Beacon News is Aurora's daily newspaper, with a daily circulation of over 27,000. It is published by the Suburban Chicago Newspaper group of papers, owned by The Chicago Sun-Times.

Television and Radio

Aurora is home to Telefuture, a Spanish language UHF television station. Broadcasts from all major commercial networks and several independent and PBS stations in the Chicagoland area are received in Aurora. Four radio stations broadcast talk, rock and Spanish language programming from the city, and are supplemented by broadcasts from Chicago and closer Kane and DuPage county stations.

Media Information: The Beacon News, 101 South River Street, Aurora, Illinois 60506; telephone (630)844-5844

Aurora Online

Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available

Aurora Downtown. Available

Aurora Economic Development Commission. Available

Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Available

Aurora Historical Preservation Commission. Available

Aurora Public Library. Available

Aurora University. Available

The Beacon News. Available

City of Aurora Home Page. Available

East Aurora School District. Available

Fox Valley Park District. Available

Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce. Available

Indian Prairie School Disrict 204. Available

West Aurora School District. Available

Selected Bibliography

Edwards, Jim and Wynette, Aurora: A Diverse People Build Their City (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishers, 1998)

Encyclopedia of Illinois (New York, Somerset Publishers, 1994)

Grossman, James R.; Keating, Ann Durkin; Reiff, Janice L. The Encyclopedia of Chicago (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004)

Keiser, John H. Building for the Centuries: Illinois, 1865 to 1898 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1997)

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Aurora: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 7,937,000

1990: 8,066,000

2000: 9,157,540

Percent change, 19902000: 11.1%

U.S. rank in 1990: 3rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 3rd

City Residents

1980: 81,293

1990: 100,279

2000: 142,990

2003 estimate: 162,184

Percent change, 19902000: 42.6%

U.S. rank in 1990: 201st (State rank: 3rd)

U.S. rank in 2000: 147th (State rank: 3rd)

Density: 3,711.5 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 97,340

Black or African American: 15,817

American Indian and Alaska Native: 511

Asian: 4,370

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 47

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 46,557

Other: 20,762

Percent of residents born in state: 56.0% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 15,095

Population 5 to 9 years old: 13,256

Population 10 to 14 years old: 10,873

Population 15 to 19 years old: 10,042

Population 20 to 24 years old: 10,625

Population 25 to 34 years old: 27,746

Population 35 to 44 years old: 23,635

Population 45 to 54 years old: 15,111

Population 55 to 59 years old: 4,498

Population 60 to 64 years old: 3,179

Population 65 to 74 years old: 4,488

Population 75 to 84 years old: 3,133

Population 85 years and older: 1,319

Median age: 29.3 years

Births (2002, Kane County) Total number: 8,299

Deaths (2002, Kane County) Total number: 2,571 (of which, 45 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $22,131

Median household income: $54,861

Total households: 46,649

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 2,336

$10,000 to $14,999: 1,651

$15,000 to $24,999: 4,209

$25,000 to $34,999: 4,779

$35,000 to $49,999: 7,925

$50,000 to $74,999: 10,738

$75,000 to $99,999: 6,838

$100,000 to $149,999: 5,585

$150,000 to $199,999: 1,397

$200,000 or more: 1,191

Percent of families below poverty level: 6.2% (24.7% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: Not reported

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Aurora: Introduction
Aurora: Geography and Climate
Aurora: History
Aurora: Population Profile
Aurora: Municipal Government
Aurora: Economy
Aurora: Education and Research
Aurora: Health Care
Aurora: Recreation
Aurora: Convention Facilities
Aurora: Transportation
Aurora: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1834 (incorporated 1845)

Head Official: Mayor Tom Wesiner (D) (since 2005)

City Population

1980: 81,293

1990: 100,279

2000: 142,990

2003 estimate: 162,184

Percent change, 19902000: 42.6%

U.S. rank in 1990: 201st (State rank: 3rd)

U.S. rank in 2000: 147th (State rank: 3rd)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 7,937,000

1990: 8,066,000

2000: 9,157,540

Percent change, 19902000: 11.1%

U.S. rank in 1990: 3rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 3rd

Area: 38.5 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Average 676 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 47.9° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 38.4 inches

Major Economic Sectors: manufacturing, retail, entertainment

Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (February 2005)

Per Capita Income: $22,131 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: Not reported

Major Colleges and Universities: Aurora University, Waubonsee Community College

Daily Newspaper: The Beacon News

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Aurora: Convention Facilities

In nearby St. Charles, Illinois, the Pheasant Run Resort & Spa is the area's largest conference facility. With a 320-seat auditorium, 100,000 square feet of meeting space, four ballrooms, and a 38,000 square foot Exposition Center, it can handle most types of functions. Accommodations and amenities include 473 rooms, an 18-hole golf course, a day spa, and live entertainment. The DuPage County Expo Center, also in St. Charles, has 25,000 square feet of column-free trade show space. The Hilton Garden Inn in St. Charles has 120 rooms and 26,000 square feet of meeting and conference space. The Kane County Fairgrounds are rentable for concerts, exhibitions, auctions, and trade shows.

Aurora has 10 hotels and motels for visitors staying in the city. The Comfort Suites City Center has 82 suites and 3 meeting rooms, and the adjacent Walter Payton's Roundhouse has banquet and catering facilities for up to 600. The Hampton Inn and Suites has a 5,000 square-foot conference and meeting center, and has a 6,000 square foot indoor water park. The Fox Valley Park District also rents out their facilities and community centers.

Convention Information: Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 44 W. Downer Place, Aurora, IL 60506; telephone (630)897-5581; toll-free (800)477-4369; fax (630)897-5589

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Aurora: Geography and Climate

Aurora is located in northeastern Illinois, straddling both the east and west sides of the Fox River. The Fox River Valley runs fairly north-south around the river. The area is part of the Great Lakes Plains, which is mainly flat except for some small hills in the west near the start of the Till Plains, the flat fertile area covering most of the state. Aurora is situated far enough away from Lake Michigan to not receive any lake effect snow, but still averages about 38 inches of snow a year, with January being the snowiest month. Temperatures in the summer months average in the low 80s, with about 4 inches of rainfall per month.

Area: 38.5 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Averages 676 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 20.0° F; July, 72.4° F; annual average, 47.9° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 38.4 inches

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Aurora (ərôr´ə, ô–). 1 City (1990 pop. 222,103), Adams and Arapahoe counties, N central Colo., a growing suburb on the east side of Denver; inc. 1903. Founded during the silver boom of the 1890s, it is now a business and technical center and Colorado's third largest city. Manufactures includes furniture, aircraft fittings, electrical equipment, precision measurement instruments, magnesium products, computer software, and paper. Tourism and construction are also important. The former Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center is being converted to business and research use. 2 City (1990 pop. 99,581), Kane co., NE Ill., on the Fox River; inc. 1837. It has large railroad yards and a variety of manufactures, including paper and plastic products, rods and bearings, controls (thermostats), foods, and consumer goods. It was one of the first cities to use electricity for street lighting (1881). It is the seat of Aurora Univ. and of a notable historical museum. A riverboat casino opened in the city in 1993.