Since 1964, the mission of the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation (JREDC) has remained consistent — to create, expand, recruit and retain job opportunities for Morgan and Scott Counties. These are not goals from a bygone era, these are action points that are worked on every day to improve the Jacksonville, Illinois region’s business environment and community.
Through accordance with the Regional Economic Development Plan, the JREDC strives to advance its mission through:
1. Business Attraction
2. Business Creation
3. Business Retention/Expansion
4. Workforce Development
Daily work includes marketing available sites and buildings to attract new investment, supporting start-ups, expanding their business retention and expansion program to maintain contact with employers and implementing a new workforce development approach through talent pipeline management.
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. It is through these connections that JREDC continues its charge to realize the seven goals that support its mission as outlined in the five-year Regional Economic Development Plan.
GOALS, STRATEGIES AND ACTION
Goal 1: IMPROVE THE REGION’S QUALITY OF PLACE
As with the entire U.S., events in the Jacksonville region were canceled due to the pandemic, making the new JREDC website even more crucial for promoting quality of place. Through it and other means, JREDC continued to market the region’s reliable public infrastructure; affordable housing and quality education; and availability and access to quality healthcare to attract new businesses to the region.
JREDC recognizes that high-speed broadband is essential for the development of industry and is expected in today’s economy by both businesses and residents. They were heavily involved in discussions with i3 Broadband to provide fiber service to Jacksonville. Additionally, Cass Communications is currently building infrastructure to offer fiber to businesses and residents in South Jacksonville.
Goal 2: CREATE AN ENTREPRENEURIAL ECOSYSTEM
Through continued promotion and support of the Morgan-Scott CEO Program and other planned activities, the JREDC engages with the region’s vital asset — young entrepreneurs.
JREDC recognizes the positive impact their developing businesses have on the region.
JREDC is committed to working with community leaders to develop a business incubator and co-working space in downtown Jacksonville; recognizing collaboration and improved access to resources is essential for growth.
Goal 3: STRENGTHEN THE REGION’S WORKFORCE
Because of disruptions to classroom teaching, work has slowed but is continuing on Talent Pipeline Management initiatives. In collaboration with the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce, conversations are continuing with Lincoln Land Community College and leading manufacturers to imagine a program that engages high school upperclassmen in manufacturing coursework.
JREDC anticipates opportunities to increase workforce development efforts through the local Healthy Communities Collaborative. JREDC, the Jacksonville Chamber and Jacksonville School District #117 are working to create an opportunity to pilot a seminar series featuring local industry leaders at Jacksonville High School when it is safe.
Again, the JREDC website has proven its value. The employment opportunities page on the website was one of the most visited pages throughout 2020. The region’s employers will be encouraged to continue to take advantage of this free “one-stop-shop” that benefits both employers and job seekers.
Goal 4: HELP EXISTING BUSINESSES EXPAND
The JREDC takes great pride in facilitating relationships between developers, business owners and municipal leaders to grow business in the Jacksonville region. Growth is created through connections.
Through the Jacksonville Regional Enterprise Zone — now in its second year — valuable incentives through sales tax and property tax abatements to qualified projects will continue to be administered through JREDC.
Goal 5: DEVELOP AVAILABLE PROPERTIES
IN THE REGION
JREDC’s new website was invaluable when it was impossible to meet in person with site selectors and realtors requesting information about available properties in the region. The website allowed JREDC to easily market available properties in Morgan and Scott Counties. They were encouraged by the number of requests for information received during 2020 about several properties including the Tri-County Development Corporation site east of Jacksonville and the former Shopko.
There are also active discussions with the new owners of the former MacMurray College campus to put the property back to use. Zoning requests are underway to bring an events facility and multi-family housing to the former campus.
To increase further opportunities for commercial and residential development in the community, as well as provide an avenue to remediate the shuttered Jacksonville Developmental Center, JREDC will work closely with the Illinois Housing Development Authority and community leaders in the upcoming year to develop a comprehensive plan for the City of Jacksonville.
Goal 6: CONSTRUCTIVELY ENGAGE COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS
In the past two years, JREDC has made good on its promise to advance engagement with the community. Through newspaper and radio interviews, a re-instated quarterly newsletter, public awareness campaigns, volunteerism and an increased social media presence, JREDC is making connections with community-based organizations.
Throughout the pandemic, the JREDC enhanced this engagement by educating small business owners about loans and grants offered to those negatively impacted by the national health and economic crisis.
Goal 7: PURSUE DEVELOPMENT THAT DIVERSIFIES THE REGION’S ECONOMY
In 2020, JREDC’s website came into play as a valuable tool to pursue economic-diversifying new development. The site was utilized to focus on target industries, promote relocation strategies and extend fundamental messaging through social media channels.
Work to strengthen relationships with Illinois College and Lincoln Land Community College was recognized as a key tool to growing the talent pool the region’s commercial industries need, as well as providing opportunities for upskilling the workforce.
The Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation is eager to assist. The organization is a time-saving connection to resources to accelerate economic development projects by providing the facts and figures businesses need: statistical data, general community data, topic-specific information and comparative data. To gather 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, contact JREDC staff members Kristin Jamison at email@example.com or Bonni Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 217.479.4627.