Regional economic opportunity summit gains traction

March 25, 2013 01:12 PM
The Regional Economic Opportunity Summit hosted by the city of Galesburg’s EBI Network and Carl Sandburg College attracted 33 municipal and economic development officials from the West Central Illinois Region, and they appear ready to meet the challenges of today’s global economy head on. Todd Thompson, Galesburg City Manager said, "The time is right to bring everyone in the region together to identify promising job creating projects, and the resources that can be applied to them. Our team has previously met with many of today’s participants or businesses in their jurisdictions. Now is the time to move into the next phase."
According to Cesar Suarez, Galesburg’s Economic Development Director, the next phase, "Will include working on job creating projects throughout the region, and bringing the resources and support of the entire region to bear on them. For example, a neighboring community can identify a business with a promising job creating project; the EBI Network may be able to supply financial and technical support to that business through one of our Business Innovation Grants; and the Workforce Investment Board and Carl Sandburg College can provide training for that business looking to expand. Since the EBI Network was tasked with economic development in the region, and received EDA funds they do so without spending city funds. The outcome, jobs available to the entire region’s workforce, helps all our partners in the long run."
Galesburg Mayor Sal Garza kicked the meeting off with some brief comments about regionalism and the city’s desire to share resources from an EDA grant to help job creation and retention in the region. This led to a discussion on challenges and opportunities, and a summary of some of the tools available. Many of the participants identified several common challenges, and seemed optimistic that a regional approach could help address these challenges.
Russell Medley, Executive Director for the Kewanee Economic Development Corporation came away from the meeting with an optimistic viewpoint. Mr. Medley said, "We’re excited about the opportunity to partner with other communities in the region. The shared resources and support would mean a lot to us. In fact, there may be something we can begin working on soon. I think this type of collaboration between all of us could show some significant improvement for the region’s economy."
Mr. Suarez added, "We’ll be reaching out to all the attendees and begin creating work plans for these projects and figuring out the type of assistance, who can help, and how to bring it to fruition. Whether it’s helping someone start a business, expand it, modernize it, or attract it, we’ll be ready to help. In the near future we will be inviting the region’s businesses to a summit to describe the type of programs– both financial and technical support - available to them for their expansion and growth plans. We plan to be aggressive in getting this done. Our team is already planning that meeting."
For additional information about the EBI Network and the programs available to help area businesses compete in the global economy contact Cesar Suarez at 309/345-3680 .
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