Since 1964, the mission of the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation has remained consistent – to create, expand, recruit and retain job opportunities for Morgan and Scott counties.
In accordance with the Regional Economic Development Plan for Morgan and Scott Counties, the JREDC will continue our mission through:
- Business Attraction: Work with public and private sector partners to market available sites and buildings to attract new investment to the region.
- Business Creation: Assist partners to encourage and support start-ups and emerging businesses so more will survive and grow locally within the region.
- Business Retention/Expansion: Expand our business retention and expansion program, with assistance from our allies, to maintain contact with every large employer and many smaller ones at least once per year.
- Workforce Development: Collaborate with the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce to implement a new workforce development approach – or talent pipeline management – to meet the needs of today’s changing business environment.
2021 GOALS, STRATEGIES AND PLAN OF WORK
As outlined in the five-year Regional Economic Development Plan, JREDC continues its charge to realize seven goals – all of which support to the mission of our organization:
Goal #1: Improve the Region’s Quality of Place
While the pandemic ceased community events for which we had previously volunteered and promoted last year, we continue to market our region’s reliable public infrastructure; affordable housing and quality education; and availability and access to quality healthcare in an effort to attract new businesses to the region. The new JREDC website has been key in helping us promote our quality of place.
High-speed broadband is essential for the development of industry, and we were heavily involved in discussions with i3 Broadband to provide fiber service to Jacksonville to ensure our region’s businesses and residents have the high-speed internet service expected in today’s economy. In addition, Cass Communications is currently building infrastructure to offer fiber to businesses and residents in South Jacksonville.
Goal #2: Create an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
The JREDC continues to promote and support the Morgan-Scott CEO Program, and plans to engage with these young entrepreneurs as they develop businesses that positively impact our region. In addition, the JREDC has been meeting with a group of community leaders with hopes to develop a business incubator and co-working space in downtown Jacksonville.
Goal #3 Strengthen the Region’s Workforce
In collaboration with the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce, the JREDC is intent to develop Talent Pipeline Management initiatives. Pre-pandemic, we met regularly with Lincoln Land Community College and leading manufacturers to imagine a program that engages high school upperclassman in manufacturing coursework. While we continue those conversations, we also anticipate opportunities to increase workforce development efforts through the local Healthy Communities Collaborative. Our workgroup has the potential to give JREDC, the Jacksonville Chamber and Jacksonville School District #117 an opportunity to pilot a seminar series featuring local industry leaders at Jacksonville High School when safe.
The employment opportunities page on the JREDC website has proven to be one of our most visited pages throughout 2020. We will continue to urge our region’s employers to take advantage of this free, “one-stop shop” that benefits employers and job-seekers.
Goal #4: Help Existing Businesses Expand and Grow
Valuable incentives through sales tax and property tax abatements to qualified projects will continue to be administered through our new Jacksonville Regional Enterprise Zone, now it its second year. The JREDC also takes great pride in facilitating relationships between developers, business owners and municipal leaders to grow business in the Jacksonville region.
Goal #5: Develop Available Properties in the Region
JREDC’s new website allows us to easily market available properties in Morgan and Scott counties. This online tool was especially important during this unprecedented time when it impossible to meet in person with site selectors and realtors requesting information about available properties in the region. In fact, we are encouraged by the number of requests for information we received during 2020 about a number of properties including the Tri-County Development Corporation site east of Jacksonville and the former Shopko. We are also actively in discussion with new owners of the former MacMurray College campus who are at work to put the property back to use.
In the coming year, we will also work closely with the Illinois Housing Development Authority and community leaders to develop a comprehensive plan for the City of Jacksonville. Our ultimate goal is to increase opportunities for commercial and residential development in this community, as well as provide an avenue to remediate the shuttered Jacksonville Developmental Center.
Goal #6: Constructively Engage Community Based Organizations
The JREDC has made great advances in the last two years to engage with various community-based organizations through newspaper and radio interviews, a re-instated quarterly newsletter, public awareness campaigns, volunteerism and an increased social media presence. Throughout the pandemic, the JREDC continued this work and illustrated our worth by educating small business owners about loans and grants offered to those negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Goal #7: Pursue Development that Diversifies the Region’s Economy
JREDC’s website is a valuable tool in pursuing new development that will help diversify our economy. In 2020, we utilized the site to focus on our target industries, promote relocation strategies and extend our message through social media channels.
We also recognize that strengthening relationships with Illinois College and Lincoln Land Community College will help grow the talent pool our commercial industries need, as well as provide opportunities for upskilling our workforce.