DeKalb County visioning project to gather more input

Mark Pietrowski
Mark Pietrowski

DeKalb County Government and four other organizations with a stake in the county’s economic development future are beginning an important phase in a recently launched visioning project.

The purpose of this effort is to help shape an economic development vision document that will guide planning, marketing and investments for DeKalb County over the next five years.

“This is a good time for DeKalb County Government to spearhead an economic development visioning process. We want to build on the progress we’ve made since the recession and continue increasing employment and earnings for our residents. The key is to get everyone focused on the same goals,” said DeKalb County Board Chair Mark Pietrowski. “It made sense for the five partner organizations to work together toward a common vision.”

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

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

NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies will work with interested municipalities to gain a better understanding of the economic development assets and opportunities that exist at the community level. Staff members will interview elected and appointed officials, business leaders, employees, students and residents, and also offer to facilitate town hall-type meetings to understand each communities’ economic development assets, needs, opportunities and resources.

DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation logo“Embracing a common vision, understanding and promoting our assets and competitive advantages, and an appreciation of the importance of business investment to our success will make our entire county a powerful internal and external marketing force,” DCEDC Executive Director Paul Borek said. “Our intention is to create a vision that includes county-wide economic development opportunities, together with the unique qualities that make our communities special.”

Anyone who lives, works or attends school in DeKalb County can complete the online survey.

After the visioning process is complete this spring, the county will begin a strategic planning initiative that will specify countywide goals and strategic actions. All communities in DeKalb County will again be invited to participate.

In addition, the DeKalb County Community Foundation 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’ unique planning process or to implement projects that are consistent with recently developed priorities.

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

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