CRDC Announces Vision 2020 Initiative

“…We’re going to look back and say this was the beginning that brought us the prosperity this community is in dire need of,” said Bruce Christensen.

Minutes earlier, the Clinton US Bank president joined Howes and Jefferies Realtors owner Steve Howes on stage inside Rastrelli’s Tuscany banquet. Together, they announced a big number to an 80-person audience: a “quiet” $1.7 million.

Vision 2020, the Clinton Regional Development Corporation’s five-year funding campaign, has “quietly” been in the works since August. Tuesday was its louder kickoff to the public.

The goals are in the name: Make Clinton a better city to work in over the next five years. To do that, the CRDC announced bold projections that entail high expectations.

One is job creation. With a goal to raise a total $2.75 million, many dollars will be directly spent on generating 400 new, primary jobs. The funding enhances CRDC’s ability to recruit new businesses, identifying ways the Clinton region can make itself fit what corporations look for.

Or, in the words of CRDC president Mike Kirchhoff: “Build our resources, build our product so it fits them best and bring them here.”

As important, if not more so, said Jim Hizer, is to expand and retain the industries that are already here. The retained jobs objective dwarfs that of created ones; CRDC wants to retain 1,100 workers throughout Clinton, Camanche, Fulton, Illinois and their feeder communities.

“Right off the bat, the CRDC is committing to 1,500 new or retained jobs, at least 400 of which will be new jobs paying $15.81 an hour,” said Hizer, a consultant from Convergent Non-Profit solutions. The CRDC approached him last March about applying Convergent’s successful development model to the region. Hizer said the method has worked well for other communities, such as Burlington and Dubuque.

The CRDC — a non-profit focused on industrial growth in the region — has an annual budget of $300,000. Vision 2020 invigorates what CRDC will be capable of.

“When we are successful in hitting $2.75 million, then we will be in the range of $500,000 to $550,000 in annual budget,” Hizer added. “These are the benchmarks the CRDC is willing to be held to.”

Tuesday’s banquet served almost as a “who’s who” of the Clinton region. Two local mayors, two county supervisors, school board members, council members and a host of business presidents were on hand both to applaud the CRDC and receive some recognition of their own.

Behind the $1.7 million — which already puts the CRDC 62 percent towards meeting its funding goal — are 33 local entities. Seven of them are considered “Platinum Investors,” meaning they pledged more than $20,000 annually to Vision 2020: Alliant Energy, the City of Clinton, Crossroads Logistics, LLC, Archer Daniels Midland, Citizens First Bank, Clinton National Bank and Mercy Medical Center.

All of the dollars raised so far have taken place behind the scenes, meaning some heavy lifting on the part of CRDC members who reached out to the local business sector. In addition to 1,500 new or retained jobs, this translates into 593 new secondary jobs and 2,730 retained secondary jobs. A full Lincolnway Railpark and open Thomson, Illinois prison are among the opportunities Vision 2020 hopes to pounce on.

The bottom line is keeping people here, and bringing new people in, does wonders for the local economy, Hizer said. Just by meeting Vision 2020’s retention goal, the region projects to gain $32.4 million in annual consumer expenditures, a number calculated through Convergent’s formula.

Christensen and Howes are at the top of Vision 2020’s 11-person Cabinet. On Tuesday, they thanked those who have already made pledges and encouraged others to think about it.

Already, they said, stakeholders have a lot to be proud of; $1.7 million exceeded expectations.

“And we haven’t even gotten started yet,” said Howes.

If Vision 2020 hits its mark, everyone benefits, Christensen said. He described a transformative movement, and a full banquet hall proved many others feel the same.

“It flat out tells the CRDC that the business community believes in us and what we are doing,” Christensen said. “This is a stamp of approval that (people) have bought into the five-year plan. And it’s just go-go-go from here.

“The stars are lining up, and we’re right at the cusp of a lot of good things. It’s not so much about the dollars. It’s what those dollars are going to allow us to accomplish.”

For more information, Vision 2020 Brochure.

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