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Regional Economic Development

What I’d like you to now about my position on Regional Economic Development

Champaign County, situated in East Central Illinois, is home to over 200,000 residents and is one of the few counties in the state with a growing population. Encompassing some of the country’s best farmland, a world-class university, an educated workforce, moderate housing prices as well as thriving cultural arts and athletic venues, the County boasts plenty of encouragements to business development.

In addition to local conditions, Federal and state factors affect local economic development. The County Executive can influence local issues and interact with Federal and state officials to influence larger issues, including:

·       Federal, State and Local Tax Policy – Changes in the tax codes affect business growth, employer benefit options, and employee career decisions about relocating or obtaining advanced degrees.

·       Immigration Policy - Passage of the Dream Act to offer ways to obtain legal status for children brought into the United States by undocumented parents affects whether these children, some now adults who have been totally educated by our schools, can stay here to contribute their skills at work.  Other legislation affects work status for many who currently hold jobs and pay taxes without benefit of legal documentation.

·       Health Care Policy – Changes in requirements for health coverage affect both employers and employees regarding workforce decisions.

·       State Budget – Availability and reliability of state payments affect business start-up, expansion or relocation decisions for businesses that hold state contracts or those dependent on spending of customers who do.

·       Living Wage - While the County’s low unemployment rate is an indicator of economic health, many jobs pay below a living wage resulting in a high the poverty rate in some areas of the County.

Residents deserve a County Executive committed to actively seeking and promoting initiatives that make Champaign County a prosperous place where its residents can thrive.

My Response as County Executive

1.     Coordinate with neighboring county and local municipal governmental units to develop a regional approach to economic and workforce development, to capture larger businesses and encourage market expansion for jobs that pay a living wage.

2.     Collaborate with the County Board to develop a 6-year plan for a comprehensive budget strategy that anticipates needed technology, construction and maintenance projects to support this growth.

3.     Balance development interests with the preservation of valuable farm land by supporting an update of the County’s land use plan.

4.     Support land-banking in partnership with municipalities to encourage the re-use of blighted properties, and update the building and nuisance codes for the County that will enable enforcement for property hazards.

5.     Promote opportunities for vocational education in partnership with schools and local businesses.

My Experience with Economic Development

  • Administered Champaign County Regional Planning Commission services to move households out of poverty through development of work skills, including managing a multi-government partnership for a 4-county workforce development region (IL WorkNet Center for Champaign, Piatt, Ford and Iroquois Counties), a public-private partnership to support start-up of in-home child care businesses (Family Child Care Network), and partnerships to fund summer youth employment opportunities (Champaign Coalition)

  •  Brought $120 million in new funds into Champaign County for government and non-profit services
  • Served as a consultant for planning multi-million-dollar public and private construction projects
  • Hold a Master of City Planning degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology

Additional Information

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