‘DeKalb County Thriving!’ summit to share economic priorities, vision

blue-sky-blocksFive organizations with a stake in the DeKalb County’s economic development future – NIU included – recently completed a county-wide data and information collection effort.

A summit titled, “DeKalb County Thriving!” will be held from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 24, at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore, to share suggested priority areas and a draft economic development vision with the public.

This effort was launched to help shape an economic development vision and establish county-wide priorities that will help guide planning, marketing and investments for DeKalb County over the next five years.

Partners are NIU, DeKalb County Government, the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, the DeKalb County Community Foundation and the DeKalb County Farm Bureau.

“Understanding the economic development needs and opportunities of the 14 communities in DeKalb County is key to developing a vision we can all buy into. The five partners wanted to understand how each community viewed the assets, challenges and key priorities in the county,” said DeKalb County Board Chair Mark Pietrowski. “Through the community forums, community interviews and the online survey, we wanted to provide as many avenues for community residents, businesses, students and elected officials to have a voice in this process.”

After holding two economic development visioning summits for public and private sector leaders last November, the project partners continued the process by inviting every municipality in DeKalb County to participate in developing this vision.

prioritiesResearchers from NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies interviewed elected and appointed officials, business leaders, employees, students and residents, and also facilitated many town hall-type meetings to understand each communities’ economic development assets, needs, opportunities and resources. In addition, more than 430 responses were submitted by county residents via an online survey.

“We appreciate the invaluable input and hard work from communities participating in this process. Community members gave their time, ideas and enthusiasm to this effort. We want to reflect that in the priorities and vision for the economic development future of the county,” DCEDC Executive Director Paul Borek said. “We want to make sure that our economic development vision embraces both the county-wide priorities that were identified and as well as the unique qualities that make each of our communities special.”

The DeKalb County Community Foundation (DCCF) is developing a DeKalb County Economic Development Grant program that will provide an opportunity for individual municipalities around the county to apply for funding to support their own communities’ economic development planning process or to implement projects that are consistent with recently developed priorities. This program, along with details and deadlines, will be announced at the May 24 summit by DCCF staff.

For more information, or to RSVP, contact Melissa Henriksen at (815) 753-0323 or email mhenriksen@niu.edu.

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