Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation: Committed to Growth
28 Mar 2022
Economic development is a commitment to growth that has a lasting positive impact on the community. It encompasses workforce development; attracting, creating and growing businesses; and creating and retaining jobs to make the community a better place to live. Strong businesses provide good jobs and pay taxes that fund vital services such as schools, roads, fire and police.
Likewise, the mission of the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation (JREDC) has remained consistent since 1964 — to create, expand, recruit and retain job opportunities for Morgan and Scott Counties. We are committed to growth and we are focused on the improvement of our residents’ lives.
As the first quarter of 2022 comes to a close, it’s an ideal time to review the work JREDC is implementing to realize the seven goals outlined in the five-year Regional Economic Development Plan.
Goals, Strategy and Action
While the description of everyday tasks is long, the work can be summed up simply — building relationships. JREDC forges relationships with public and private sector partners, new entrepreneurs, education partners and large and small regional employers alike.
Goal 1: Improve the Region’s Quality of Place
JREDC focuses on working closely with our partners to promote the amenities and resources of the region and to complete more placemaking projects that bring benefits to public places and the people who use them. Actions include:
- Partnering with the City of Jacksonville on a Community Revitalization Plan that is surveying Jacksonville residents to understand current housing needs in an effort to improve economic development, housing development and community development.
- Marketing our region’s reliable public infrastructure, affordable housing, quality education and availability and access to quality healthcare to attract new businesses to the region. The recent installation of fiber broadband in Jacksonville and South Jacksonville ensures our region’s businesses and residents have the high-speed internet service expected in today’s economy.
- Leveraging our JREDC website to promote our quality of place.
Goal 2: Create an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
JREDC focuses efforts on the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and those ready to launch right now.
- JREDC continues to promote and support the Morgan-Scott CEO Program and commits to engaging with these young entrepreneurs as they develop businesses that positively impact our region.
- The JREDC has met and counseled several entrepreneurs interested in identifying properties to begin new brick-and-mortar small businesses in the region.
Goal 3: Strengthen the Region’s Workforce
JREDC is committed to a strong and educated workforce created by expanding and upskilling the talent pool through focused partnerships and collaboration. Activities and initiatives include:
- Talent Pipeline Management initiatives: In collaboration with the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce, the JREDC continues to move these initiatives forward. In the works is a program that will connect Jacksonville School District #117 high school students with on-the-job opportunities at Reynolds Consumer Products. Upper-level high school students could begin work at Reynolds through the current Cooperative Vocational Education curriculum or a similar program during the next academic year.
- Illinois College: A new effort is being forged with Illinois College business students to evaluate geofencing strategies to identify and recruit potential employees for our region’s commercial industries.
- Lincoln Land Community College: JREDC meets regularly with Lincoln Land and leading manufacturers to brainstorm for programs that engage high school students.
- Memorial Health’s Healthy Communities Collaborative: JREDC participates in working on initiatives to help publicize current job opportunities and reduce barriers for unemployed residents in the region to achieve employment.
- JREDC’s Employment Opportunity Page: This no-cost resource on our website proved to be one of our most visited pages in 2021. We will continue to promote this valuable resource to local employers as an advantageous “one-stop shop” that benefits employers and job seekers alike.
Goal 4: Help Existing Businesses Expand and Grow
Meaningful growth is created through connections. The JREDC takes great pride in facilitating relationships between developers, business owners and municipal leaders to grow business in the Jacksonville region. Efforts pertaining to the Jacksonville Regional Enterprise Zone, now in its third year, include:
- Administering valuable incentives through sales tax and property tax abatements to qualified projects.
- JREDC is working directly with the property owners of the former MacMurray College to add those parcels to our Enterprise Zone.
Goal 5: Develop Available Properties in the Region
Economic vitality and diversification for our commercial and industrial areas are a primary focus. Efforts include:
- Marketing available sites and buildings in Morgan and Scott counties efficiently and effectively through our website, especially when meeting in person has proven difficult. Our website often serves as the first point of contact with business prospects. This contact can lead to meaningful virtual or in person conversations.
- Dedicating much of our time last year to working directly with international prospects interested in developing businesses in the Jacksonville region.
- Continuing to connect with site selectors who request information about our region.
- Continuing our partnerships with the Illinois Housing Development Authority and community leaders to help develop a comprehensive plan for the City of Jacksonville. The goal is to increase opportunities for commercial and residential development, 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. Efforts centered around the pandemic include:
- Being named a Community Navigator in 2021 to work with the Illinois Department of Public Health through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Back to Business grant program.
- Facilitating nearly $200,000 for small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic through the Back to Business grant program. Overall, JREDC and other community partners have helped small businesses receive over $1.5 million in grant funding in Morgan and Scott counties through local and state programs.
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. The importance of building relationships with entrepreneurs and business leaders originally from this region is evident.
- Since 2020, we have utilized the site to focus on our target industries, promote relocation strategies and extend our message through social media channels. The success of this web-based strategy is supported by the inquiries received from prospects specific to our target industries.
- The website has also functioned to garner interest from sectors not considered target markets. This demonstrates well-designed marketing has avenues for success even beyond what is originally planned.
Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation (JREDC) is Ready to Assist
The JREDC is your time-saving connection to resources to accelerate your project by providing the facts and figures businesses need: statistical data, general community data, topic-specific information and comparative data. Email JREDC or phone 217.479.4627 for specific information on available buildings and sites, financing and incentives, labor market information, tax information, demographics, traffic counts, retail sales data, economic indicators and trends and zoning information.