New Group Says it Can Do Better at Attracting Jobs

Representatives for a new economic development group approached the La Salle City Council Tuesday, saying its plan was to focus more intensely than the Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce on marketing the tri-county area for business.

Hennepin Mayor Kevin Coleman and Princeton city manager Jeff Clawson introduced their emerging coalition, informally called the Economic Development Corp. of North Central Illinois.

“I’m here not to talk you into joining something — I’m here to make sure you have the facts,” Clawson said, explaining that the group was not in any competition with IVAC but was differentiating itself to make attracting businesses to La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties its priority.

The real competition, Clawson said, was with other economic hubs around the state such as Joliet, Rockford and the Quad Cities.

“We’re looking forward to hearing more from this group,” La Salle Mayor Jeff Grove said.

Clawson described the vision for the board of 13-15 people, with six from the public sector and the remainder from the private sector. The six from the public sector would include three from La Salle County, two from Bureau County and one from Putnam County, recognizing population differences. Private-sector members would be asked to invest $25,000 for their seat on the board.

The group would have a $400,000 annual budget, much of which would go toward paying for three staff positions. These would include an executive director, an assistant director and a secretary, with office space at Illinois Valley Community College.

“The focus of the director will be to market this region,” Clawson said.

Clawson cautioned that the details were subject to change and that he hoped to have them finalized by the end of March.

“This is going to be an open, competitive process,” Clawson said, adding that anyone would be welcome to apply for the staff positions.

He also said the group needed “to talk about the shortcomings we’ve had in the area of economic development.”

Grove said any alliance between the city and the group would be inconsequential to city economic development director Don Aleksy: “By no means does this affect Don at all.”

Source: News Tribune