Economic Development Leader Tells Hennepin Businessmen About Plans to Promote the Region

Ivan Baker, head of the Economic Development Corp. of North Central Illinois, addressed the Hennepin Business and Betterment Association this week, discussing the corporation’s role in bringing companies to the area.

Baker said the board directed him to aggressively market the area for companies that will bring high-paying, living-wage jobs to the area.

“Our job is 100 percent marketing,” Baker said. “We’ve got to get our name out. We’ve got to make sure the people who are investing, the people who represent those investors, know they can come here and make money... We are not wasting our time on minimum-wage jobs.”

Baker said the competition to bring the jobs to the area is fierce, with more than 15,000 economic development corporations nationwide competing for only approximately 2,000 new or expanding companies that would provide 100 or more jobs apiece.

He was asked by Scott Shore how he contacted the manufacturers he hoped to bring to the area.

“We have to be responsible for our own future. We can’t depend on a grant; we can’t depend on Springfield at all,” Baker said after explaining to Shore that he is traveling the country to meet with potential companies and business insiders.

“We have to pick up ourselves by our own bootstraps, go after the right audience, and not expect people to come to us. We have to go to them, and market to heck out of this great area,” Baker said.

Baker said he and his team are gathering data and will have a website up and running by February. He echoed a statement made by Joni Hunt of Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce at last month’s Hennepin board meeting, saying there is a company, through a consulting firm, looking at an area near Hennepin.

Source: News Tribune