I have been very excited about the progress of our Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy or CEDS which includes McHenry, Boone and Winnebago counties. Last week, an Open House for public comment was held in McHenry County, and this week, Boone and Winnebago counties will be holding their open houses.
These public comment sessions are designed to receive input on the strategies developed over the last few months as we pursue growth, creating jobs and strengthening our local economy.
If you were unable to attend the open house, you can still provide your thoughts through this CEDS Public Comment Link. (Click here)
A little background...A Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) lays out a regional plan for economic development. Its ultimate goal is to help our area have a stronger, more diverse regional economy. While the CEDS’ most critical function is to provide a regional economic development framework, it also serves as a required vehicle through which some federal agencies (especially the EDA) evaluate requests for grant assistance. With a CEDS plan approved by the federal government, a region is eligible to apply for federal economic development grants.
Winnebago and Boone counties created the region’s first CEDS in 2010 through a process that aligned public sector, private sector, nonprofit and community partners, as well as public input, into a plan for regional development. The CEDS has successfully aided the region in receiving the following grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration:
•A $6.1 million State of Ingenuity grant collaboration between Boone/Winnebago counties and Wisconsin counties to promote entrepreneurship and innovation programs.
•A $2.7 million public works grant to upgrade roads around Chicago Rockford International Airport.
•A $1.8 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant (through EDA and other federal agencies) to promote the region’s aerospace cluster.
While preparing for the 2015 update of the CEDS, Winnebago and Boone counties began working with McHenry County more closely on collaboration to advance the shared manufacturing industries in the wider region. As McHenry County did not have a CEDS, it was agreed that the three counties would work together on the new CEDS update.
The EDA emphasizes that the CEDS is a planning process that includes representation from the main economic interests of the region including private sector representatives, public officials, community leaders, private individuals, representatives of workforce development boards, institutions of higher education, minority and labor groups, non-profit organizations and educational institutions. A CEDS Strategy Committee is charged with leading the effort and incorporating public input along the way.
The objective is to develop a document that outlines a development strategy that will identify a list of key projects that are prioritized in line with regional assets and that will further the regional development strategy developed. These projects may, in turn, qualify for EDA grants, including those that provide capital investment funding.
This CEDS is the result of an exceptional collaboration effort between:
*Winnebago, Boone and McHenry County governments
*McHenry County Economic Development Corporation
*The Rockford Area Economic Development Council
*Growth Dimensions for Belvidere-Boone County
*Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies
*The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning - As well as many more companies, governments and agencies
To learn more about the process, you can visit the Economic Development District of Northern Illinois website - click here for link.
Or give us a call.
MCEDC is proud to be a champion of this important economic development effort.