The sixth annual National Economic Development week is this week. The Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation is taking the week to reflect on the difficult year of 2020 and the year ahead.
JREDC Executive Director Kristin Jamison says that she really was proud that the organization acted as a liaison for relief for the small business community over the last year: “The JREDC really showed its worth in terms of partnering with other community organizations to work on things like small business loans and grants. We really tried to help be the place of information, and to really get information out to small businesses in this region with regard to relief. That was really, I think, the highlight of our work for this year because it was so important for businesses to have someone to talk to and to facilitate those conversations.”
Jamison says that renewable energy projects, the closure and sale of MacMurray College’s property, and further development of East Morton Avenue were all huge highlights of the past year for Jacksonville.
Jamison says current and former members of the Jacksonville community jumped in to fill the gap with MacMurray’s loss. She says her office is currently working on a way to incentivize further development of the properties: “Thankfully, we do have some business people close to us in this community and people originally from Jacksonville who stepped up and made sure that the outcome of that [situation] is going to be a positive thing. JREDC is working directly with those [new] property owners. We are the facilitators of the Jacksonville Regional Enterprise Zone, so there is some incentive for developing properties within that enterprise zone. At this point, the former MacMurray College campus is not a part of that, but that is something we are trying to do to work with those property owners to try and extend that zone, so there is more incentive to develop that property.”
Jamison says she’s excited for the Bridge Phase of the Restore Illinois plan this week, and looking forward to full reopening of the state sometime soon. Jamison says right now JREDC is currently working with the City of Jacksonville and the Illinois Housing Development Authority on a community revitalization program. Jamison says that the best way for the community to help the project is to complete an online community needs assessment survey. She says the answers will help the city create a comprehensive plan to address those needs in the near future.