When Gio Rodriguez started his business from his garage in Aurora in 2017, he had big dreams.
The former East Aurora High School wrestler was born and raised in Aurora and still does.
“We expect to be a globally recognized brand,” he said this week.
That might seem like bragging rights to some, but in just two years, Rodriguez has taken his business, PreMil, from the garage to a retail outlet in downtown Aurora, enlisting the help of well-known sports stars and online influencers to support his urban brand streetwear and shoes.
Now he’s shunning offers to move to Chicago and Naperville in order to stay in his hometown to expand and move to what David Dibo, Aurora’s director of economic development, says is “a very prime location” on Stolp Avenue and named at Downer Place downtown.
If the City Council approves a redevelopment deal next week, PreMil would transform two first-floor office suites in the Stolp Island municipal parking garage into two sleek new retail spaces.
“The vision is to move old offices to new retail stores,” Dibo said.
The city would put a total of $200,000 into the suites’ remodel, with Rodriguez contributing a total of $150,000.
The city’s $200,000 will be split into a $120,000 finish line grant and $30,000 from the downtown tax-rise funding district, which will close at the end of the year. The other $50,000 actually came from Rodriguez, but the city would give it back to him as free rent for three years, half rent for a fourth year, and regular rent again for the fifth year.
Rodriguez would contribute the remainder of the $100,000 to remodel the offices.
He told councilors at the whole’s council committee meeting this week that he will transform the old offices into something “with a much more modern, urban look”. One area would be retail, the other would combine retail with the company’s live screen printing service. As a nod to his roots, Rodriguez added two garage doors to this space as part of the entrance.
The deal was in full swing as the building where PreMil is now located has been sold and the new owner wants to move their business to this building. Dibo said time is of the essence to “bring the old business to the new business”.
He said the deal was an example of a homegrown, locally developed business, and city council members seemed to agree.
Ald. Scheketa Hart-Burns, 7th Precinct, said knowing Rodriguez is to understand he’s “strong, committed.”
“Speak of a fine young man,” she said.
Ald. Sherman Jenkins generally praised Rodriguez for his “willingness to stay here.”
“He could have gone somewhere else,” Jenkins said. “You see the potential here.”
Voting on the agreement will come at next week’s regular city council meeting on new deals.