Joel Smiley, executive director of the Lincoln & Logan County
Development Partnership, hosted the meeting. It was the first of
four meetings for this portion of the CEDS process.
Bill Martin, Logan County Board member and former mayor of
Atlanta, worked with Tom Akers of Heartland Community College to
develop and conduct the brainstorming session. Akers works with
corporations in strategic planning and served as the moderator for
the evening. Martin has been active in regional planning and
development in Logan County a number of years and tailored the
questionnaire that Akers typically uses for the process.
Approximately 50 people attended the meeting, including seven of
the 10 city council members, most of the city department heads and a
number of other people from the community.
Logan County has recently been accepted into the Economic
Development Council for Central Illinois, which is federally
recognized as an economic development district by the federal
Economic Development Agency in Chicago. The regional EDC represents
the counties of Peoria, Woodford, Tazewell, Mason and now Logan.
The current CEDS document for the
regional development council is divided into seven sections:
economic development problems and opportunities
CEDS goals and
private sector participation
programs and activities
CEDS plan of action
When Akers took the floor, his objective was to gather
information from the audience, which would go into the projects and
programs chapter of the CEDS document.
Akers explained that this is a process used in major
corporations, such as Marathon/Ashland Oil and Ingersoll Rand, which
he personally has worked with in developing their strategic plan.
Each person in attendance was given three sheets of paper for
recording their ideas. The paper began by identifying four areas of
concern: quality of life, development and targeted industries,
infrastructure, rural and small communities. Each idea submitted was
to be identified as to what area of these concerns it fit into.
The next part had six basic questions: What projects are
necessary in your community for this heading? Why is this project
necessary? How many jobs will be created? What fiscal impact will it
have? Does this contribute to the economic well-being of your
community? Who will be the lead agency?
Akers said that the questions did not have to be answered but
should be if at all possible.
When everyone had their ideas recorded, each paper was taped to
the wall of the council chambers, grouped according to the four
Then everyone went around the room and read the posted ideas.
After that each person was given 10 stars for voting. Another
pass was made to cast votes on the ideas thought most important.
Akers explained that the voting was not winner versus loser, but
rather a means of identifying priorities in the community.
Akers said that all the ideas would go into the CEDS and would be
used as a reference when grants became available. He explained that
as a member of the regional development council, Logan County would
receive notification of grants that are available for the region.
Smiley would check the CEDS, and even though a project might be a
low priority, he would still be able to apply for the grant because
it is in the CEDS.
When the voting was finished, Akers went around the walls of the
room and read the ideas that got the greatest number of votes.
vote-getter for the city of Lincoln was a new fire station, with 25
votes, which means that the community considers that a top priority.
Other top priorities were street repair and upgrades, with 24 votes;
finishing the Fifth Street project and finding a use for the
abandoned Lincoln Developmental Center campus, each receiving 22
votes; and moving the Logan County Fairgrounds out of city limits
received 18 votes.
Other ideas were
finding businesses to fill the vacant Wal-Mart, Kroger and Goody's
buildings; extending Short 11th Street to Malerich Drive; extending
Malerich Drive to Fifth Street; sewer and wastewater upgrades;
building a golf course; school consolidation; attracting a
distribution warehouse; developing a city industrial park; and many
The CEDS has taken on an even greater value to Logan County given
the current economic conditions in the nation and worldwide. "As the
economy has changed on a global level, Logan County has also
struggled with corporate layoffs and plant closings; this has
created difficult budget constraints," Smiley said.
"By joining CEDS, we hope to tap into new federal grant
opportunities that will help foster growth, both in terms of
population increase as well as commercial tax base."
[to top of second column]
Martin provided the background of joining the regional development
council. It was the final result of a meeting several years ago with
then-U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood. "A few years back when we began our work
on the comprehensive plan, one of the things we kept saying was that
this would be the forerunner of our CEDS document," Martin
explained. At that time, there were federal funds available for
developing a CEDS, which would have cost an estimated $30,000
invested in hiring a consultant and developing the strategy.
However, just as the comprehensive plan was being completed, the
federal funding ran out, and CEDS went to the wayside.
Martin said that while attending a meeting in Peoria, he and
others approached LaHood about federal funding for the Fifth Street
Road project. "The bottom line that came out of that meeting was
that unless you have a CEDS, you are not going to get federal
funding," he said.
Because of the cost involved, it was suggested by LaHood's office
that Logan County should approach the EDC in Peoria about joining
their regional council.
Martin added that being a part of that regional council is a
preferred situation. "This gives us a foot in the door with the EDA
in Chicago because they like regional activities," he said. "They
like to fund things that are not just going to benefit a locale, but
As a member of the regional development district, Logan County
will receive notifications of federal grants available in the region
and will be able to collaborate with other counties in the district
in the grant writing process, which will in the end result in a
greater likelihood of receiving federal funding for projects.
Akers said that he was very impressed with the wide variety of
ideas presented, and that in past efforts he had seen much more
duplication of ideas than what was presented at this meeting.
Martin said that before they ended the night he wanted to remind
folks that having the CEDS does not guarantee that Lincoln and Logan
County will receive federal funding for any of these projects, but
that with the CEDS, the chances were greatly improved that they can
be successful in capturing grant dollars.
At the close of the evening, Smiley said that three more CEDS
meetings will be conducted in Logan County: one at the courthouse on
April 27, another in Atlanta on April 28 and a fourth in Mount
Pulaski that is not yet scheduled. He stressed that due to the
nature of the meeting, it is not recommended that folks attend more
than one, as they are looking for original ideas from each group.
He thanked Martin and Akers for all their work on this project,
adding that Akers' participation is being backed by Heartland
Community College, and he certainly appreciates their contribution
to the process.
[By NILA SMITH]
CEDS is defined on the EDC website as
"the result of a local planning process designed to guide the
economic growth of an area. A CEDS process will help create jobs,
foster more stable and diversified economies, and improve living
conditions. It provides a mechanism for coordinating the efforts of
individuals, organizations, local governments, and private industry
concerned with economic development. In order for projects to
qualify for Economic Development Administration assistance under its
public works, economic adjustment and most planning programs, the
project must be consistent with the goals and objectives set out in
To read the current CEDS document for
the Economic Development Council of Central Illinois,
click here. (PDF)
Elsewhere on the Web