Friday, March 13, 2009
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County eyes April 27 for big 10-year plan

Brainstorming CEDS projects to begin

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[March 13, 2009]  Last night the Logan County Board received a long-awaited, important go-ahead in the development of the Lincoln and Logan County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. Joel Smiley, executive director of the Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership, said that last week he received word that the Peoria Economic Development Council gave approval to scope out community-based needs.

Smiley is scheduling meetings to gather information from all corners of the county. Four meetings are planned, which the public will be encouraged to attend. He explained that Tom Akers from Heartland Community College would be facilitating the meetings, which would involve exercises that would take about an hour. The meetings would be scheduled for two hours but might take less, he said.

Board members asked questions

David Hepler -- What is the necessity for this board to meet?

Smiley responded -- This would be the most crucial meeting for brainstorming ideas about what projects might happen here in the next 10 years. "It's important for community leaders, including the business community, to really look hard at what their vision is," he said. The projects that get accepted into the CEDS would be eligible for federal funding.

Each of the meetings would be open to the public and would include community leaders, business leaders and elected officials. Everyone who comes in will get a lot out of the meeting. The more participation, the more effective it is going to be.

John Stewart -- Stewart asked if the whole board would be needed or if maybe it could just be the planning and zoning committee. He pointed out that it is $420 every time the board meets, and with travel expenses almost $500.

Smiley responded -- The more participation there is, the better it's going to be.

Jan Schumacher commented -- I recognize the concern. The concept is that we're all here together to throw out ideas and then brainstorm with community leaders. I think that's a key role for the board; looking for the future is part of what we're charged to do. I think that would be money well-spent.

Bill Martin has been involved with the CEDS process while it was still under the Logan County Regional Planning Commission and has continued working on it with Smiley through the development partnership.

Martin recapped -- Through the meeting we're going to be formulating plans. Everything we come up with might not go into the document, but we're going to try to come up with what we'd like to see done in the county in the next 10 years. That can involve every committee we've got (on the Logan County Board). We may want to see some addition at the airport, rebuild roads, any number of county projects that would need federal funding.

At the other communities' meetings, they will present projects that they want to see done.

He emphasized that if a project is not in the CEDS document that is created now, you've got to wait for five years before you can put it in. CEDS is reviewed every five years and resubmitted to the Economic Development Administration in Chicago for approval.

Pat O'Neill, board vice chairman, commented -- There are many different personalities and opinions on the board, but all are joined in the interest to see the community grow. Having the input of as many as possible is important.

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Smiley said that originally the CEDS was going to cost $50,000-plus, but now the county would be saving substantially in this process.

Several years ago the regional planning commission began planning to develop the CEDS once the comprehensive plan was finished. Some federal funding made it within reach at $30,000, but those funds dried up right at the time the project could have been started.

A new opportunity was recognized a couple of years ago, and that was to piggyback with the Peoria Economic Development Council's CEDS. This option not only realizes a substantial savings that makes the project affordable, but it also puts Lincoln and Logan County in a regional effort, which is viewed more favorably when asking for funding from state and federal authorities.

By going through the Peoria EDC it would now only cost $5,000 to complete the CEDS. There is also an annual administration fee of $5,000. Both fees would be paid the first year, and then only the administration fee would be paid each year after. The city and county each committed $5,000 for this project in their budgets this year.

The partnership's leading the process with in-kind service is an added value.

"I realize, every dollar you have to account to your voters and constituents, "Smiley said. "You're already making a major investment towards the CEDS process. I think going that one extra step would be very valuable and beneficial for everyone involved."

It is up to the board chairman to call a special meeting. Terry Carlton was not present to approve that last night. The tentative date is April 27, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Logan County Courthouse.

The city of Lincoln has scheduled to meet April 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Meetings would be scheduled in Atlanta, to represent the northern communities, and in Mount Pulaski, to represent the southern communities. An announcement will be made once all the meeting dates are set.


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