JREDC Focuses on Health and Safety for its 2020 Industry of the Year Award
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Since 1990, the Existing Industry Committee of Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation (JREDC) has presented the Industry of the Year Award to a company exhibiting outstanding business development and activity that enhances regional economic viability. Since 2020 was a year like no other in recent memory, JREDC determined that a different set of guidelines for choosing its 2020 Harold Cox Industry of the Year recipient was warranted.
In light of that, not one but three entities were recognized with the award at the organization’s Investor Appreciation Reception held at Water’s Edge Winery & Bistro of Jacksonville. To mark the leadership and guidance provided to the Jacksonville, Illinois, region throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Jacksonville Memorial Hospital (formerly known as Passavant Area Hospital), Morgan County Health Department and Jacksonville/MorganCounty Office of Emergency Management received the distinction of being named 2020 Industries of the Year.
During a year of extraordinarily challenging high patient volume and demand, Jacksonville Memorial’s dedicated healthcare professionals rose to the challenge of the physically and emotionally draining work. In the face of treating friends and neighbors suffering from such a devastating illness, the hospital staff supported each other and worked together to meet the needs of their patients and their communities.
With the pandemic bringing its work to the forefront, Jacksonville/Morgan County Office of Emergency Management worked alongside Jacksonville Memorial staff to ensure the wellbeing of the community. Coordinating with private and public partners, the Office of Emergency Management took great measures to ensure the mitigation of risks, thereby working to set the foundation for a timely recovery. As the pandemic illustrated, the ongoing challenges and threats impacting a community are great. The partnerships the Office of Emergency Management forged with multiple sectors of the community to provide planning, response and recovery were vitally important.
The third recipient was the Morgan County Health Department, one of the Office of Emergency Management’s most important partnerships. Over the course of the last 18 months, COVID-19 outreach was one of the main priorities for health department staff. From communicating daily updates to providing testing, contact tracing and vaccinations, the health department was an
indispensable player on the frontlines to ensure that folks in the Jacksonville region had the tools to carry on with their daily lives in the safest way possible.
Also during the Investor Appreciation Reception, JREDC recognized Mike Hayes and The Hayes Group with the 2020 Champion Award. The Hayes Group has been steadily growing its operations in Jacksonville since 2005, but its roots in the City go back much further as Hayes was born and raised in the community. His local entrepreneurship efforts began with a homemade ice cream shop and a communications group. Today, the Hayes Group has grown to include over 400 residential units and several hundred thousand square feet of commercial space, including the former A.C. Humko plant, Dunlap Center and former downtown U.S. Bank building, as well as five buildings on the former MacMurray College campus.
The Hayes Group’s latest project is the Country Club Hills subdivision and Waters Edge Winery & Bistro of Jacksonville, located on East Morton Avenue. Hayes commented, “I was born and raised on the north and northeast side of this community, and I have always seen the east side of Jacksonville as an opportunity to grow the economic base for our town … We will continue to grow our presence in Jacksonville and work hard to provide economic and cultural growth for the City.”
In addition to recognizing the 2020 award recipients during her remarks, JREDC Chairman, Jodee Nell, took time to thank JREDC President Kristin Jamison and Vice President Bonni Waters for their work during the past year. “We can all agree that 2020 was a year of challenges for everyone, but Kristin and Bonni adapted to the times, and spent countless hours educating and informing businesses of the opportunities for help during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Jamison and Waters worked throughout the onset of the pandemic and beyond, focusing a substantial part of their efforts on helping small businesses and nonprofits gain access to grant funding through state and local programs. More than $1.3 million in assistance was given to entities in Morgan and Scott counties, thanks to the efforts of the JREDC and community partners. The organization is currently serving as a Community Navigator through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s small business grant program.