ANNUAL MEETING DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Thursday, September 27, 2018
by Terry A Pope, Director
Good evening and thank you for attending our annual meeting.
As your director, I will use this time to give you an overview of the activities in which I have been engaged on your behalf over the past year.
First, some statistics:
I have represented Hancock County Economic Development at
- 5 city council meetings
- 3 county board meetings
- 11 civic meetings
- 27 meetings with mayors and village presidents
- 10 media and agency interviews on behalf of HCED
In August, I completed the third year of the Midwest Community Development Conference, a continuing education program for community development professionals sponsored by the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs. This year, I had the opportunity to make a presentation at one of the sessions and was selected class champion by my peers.
HCED has been represented at the state level at the Illinois Rural Economic Development Conference. This year seven people from Hancock County attended.
I also attended the Illinois Economic Development Association’s Annual Meeting and Conference, and the Illinois USDA Round Table with Director Doug Wilson.
I have represented HCED regionally at the Tri-State Manufacturing Summit, the Tri-State Housing Summit, and the Upper Mississippi Illinois Missouri
Rivers Association (UMIMRA). These events allow me to meet and network with state, regional and national people.
HCED continues to follow our strategic plan in our three areas:
- Business retention and expansion
- Workforce development, and
- Marketing and recruitment.
Business Retention and Expansion
This year I made 40 business visits. These visits are now more in depth. I received the Synchronist computer database program earlier this year. I now use an interview form which allows me to input information into Synchronist. This program helps me keep better track of businesses. It also allows CORES of Illinois (Creating Opportunities for Retention and Expansion) to aggregate some of the information to track business health in Illinois.
The good news is, all our major business are hiring employees and are doing some expansion. Their concerns are still the same: state taxes, workman’s comp, dependable high-speed internet, and finding employees.
Other efforts under the umbrella of business retention and expansion:
- We held two events concerning succession planning.
- We continue to support our county CEO program. Christine Murphy will talk more about the CEO class later in our meeting.
Work Force Development
In this area, we have had several events.
- In March, In collaboration with Memorial Hospital and SIU School of Medicine, a Health Career Fair was held at Memorial Hospital and Medical Building. Forty high school students spent the day touring the facilities and learning about opportunities in the health industry.
- Also in March, Working with Carthage Community Development and Workforce Investment Board, the annual Southeastern Job Fair was held. Thirty employers and more than 200 high school students attended.
- We held a Hancock County Job Fair on September 13th, partnering with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Carthage Community Development, and Workforce Investment Board. Sixteen employers participated and six more sent job applications. Sixteen job seekers attended. Prior to the Job Fair, we held an educational meeting for employers to learn about hiring veterans, rules on employing and releasing employees, the CEO program and apprenticeships.
- In collaboration with Carthage Community Development and Memorial Hospital, we had a meeting to work at providing childcare in Hancock County.
Marketing and Recruitment
In addition to outreach meetings and media interviews mentioned previously, we have revitalized our website, and we have continued presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. We are trying to get the good news about Hancock County out into the world.
I would like to mention a few other areas.
- Solar Farm Developers are looking at Hancock County. They have contacted landowners. In order to educate our landowners, Farm Bureau and HCED held an informational meeting on September 12th to provide information on the different aspects of solar farm leases. We will continue to monitor this.
- In June, I attended a brownfield workshop in Normal. By definition, “brownfields” are real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.”
Last week, Delbert Kreps, Amy Graham and I attended a brownfield assessment meeting in Macomb to learn how the $600,000 grant for the six counties – Knox, Warren, Henderson, McDonough, Fulton, and Hancock – would be utilized and distributed; $300,000 will be used to assess Brownfields in Galesburg, Canton, Monmouth, and Macomb, and the other $300,000 will be for rural areas.
It is now time for Hancock County to nominate these sites. All the sites in the six-county area will be prioritized by potential benefit. One thing that will help a property score higher is if the city or village owns the property. A committee, of which Amy, Delbert and I are members, will score these properties. Please help us identify the properties soon. We should have the nomination form next week.
Now for two announcements
- BUSINESS PLAN GRANT: Tonight we kick off the HCED Business Plan Grant Which will have an award of up to $10,000.00. Informational packets are available! If you know of someone who wants to start a business, take a small business to the next level, or wants to expand, give them this information packet and have them get in touch with me to get an application. The grant is predicated on increasing a business and adding an employee or employees. The deadline for applications is January 15, 2019. We will start utilizing the funds we have set aside for this endeavor.
- NEW OFFICE SPACE: By this winter, we plan to be in new office space. Our present office is on the third floor of the courthouse, just off the county board room. The new office will be on the east side of Carthage in the EMS building. We will have use of an office and the conference room. It provides a better environment to meet people. It will also give HCED visibility with signage on Hwy 136. We are looking forward to the move. The county EMS has offered this space to us at no cost.
As I mentioned in our newsletter, fall is a time of transition. HCED has been going through a transition that will take our organization to the next level of involvement and support.
In conclusion, I want to say thank you to the Executive Committee for their support. I especially want to thank Nancy Pettit for all the office support she has given to me. And most of all, I want to thank you the member investors for being a part of a vision to enhance the economic vitality of Hancock County.