The adage “we work better when we work together” rings true for economic development in general, but it has been especially true for Grundy County in recent years. Looking back and looking to the future, strategic partnerships and a collaborative regional approach have been and will continue to be essential to fostering a healthy and robust economy.
At the recent Grundy Economic Development Council (GEDC) and Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, the #SaveDresden Coalition received the 2021 Partnership of the Year Award. The coalition included the GEDC, the Grundy County Chamber, the public tax districts, small and large businesses, unions and residents. The results the #SaveDresden Coalition has been able to achieve are a testament to the power of a coordinated team approach in the face of a daunting challenge. Our local legislators continue to testify that the bill that would eventually keep the region’s nuclear power plants operating was completely “dead”. Thanks to determined collaboration and coalition efforts, the bill has been resurrected, nuclear plants remain open, and we now have more time to plan for our region’s energy future.
Nuclear Host Community Economic Resilience Grant Application
This hard-earned time is used to explore avenues that will allow our region to operate from a future preparedness position. In partnership with the Grundy Chamber of Commerce and in collaboration with Grundy County, the GEDC applied for the Nuclear Host Community Economic Resilience Grant through the United States Economic Development Administration. If awarded, this grant will build a bridge to economic resilience and diversity. Dresden Station is an important economic presence in our region and this grant will help local communities develop additional sources of investment and job creation. A decision on the grant application is expected this summer, and community stakeholders continue to be proactive as we work together to chart the way forward.
Grundy County Transportation Planning Grant
Another coordinated effort to ensure a better and safer future in Grundy County is the cooperation between community and county leaders to develop a comprehensive, data-driven transportation plan for Grundy County. A multi-jurisdictional team of local officials applied for a planning and research grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation. This grant, if awarded, will enable the county and participating municipalities to make data-driven decisions about priority infrastructure projects and high-impact transportation corridors. A cooperative approach is essential to moving residents and commerce safely across the county, as none of our communities exist on the islands. Growth in a Grundy County community inevitably impacts neighboring communities, and meaningful coordination when planning investments in the roads and trails that connect us all represents a “way of doing business” that will continue to serve our county in the future.
This same emphasis on cooperation for shared success also extends beyond our county’s borders. Intersect Illinois, a state-level public/private economic development partnership, works with local economic development organizations such as the GEDC, as well as private companies seeking new locations in the county.
Intersect is working to challenge the old narrative that paints Illinois as a tough environment for business. Coordinated efforts and significant state investments are increasingly making Illinois an attractive place to start and grow businesses. Intersect Illinois is leading the charge by sharing the facts about our state:
- Illinois is the 18th largest economy in the world and has the fifth largest GDP in the country.
- It is home to over 2,000 international industry leaders as well as 1.2 million small businesses.
- 37 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Illinois.
- Chicago is the third largest intermodal port in the world.
- Illinois has a workforce of nearly 6.5 million highly skilled and educated people. Exceeding national averages, one-third of Illinois’ workforce holds a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- The University of Illinois system produces more engineers each year than Stanford, MIT and CalTech combined.
Effectively telling Illinois’ positive story is everyone’s job. Grundy County knows how to bring diverse stakeholders together around a table to achieve ambitious goals. This same coordinated approach at the state level is an encouraging indication of good things to come.