Economic development road map for Gurnee gets support
BY ED COLLINS Special to The News-Sun November 23, 2012 7:18PM
Updated: January 24, 2013 4:46PM
A report from Gurnee’s new Economic Development Committee has garnered support from officials for six recommended policies suggested by the nine-member body.
Trustee Steve Park, who serves as EDC chairman, said the advisory committee was formed in June 2011 with an objective of “improving the economic development capabilities of the village from both a staff and board perspective to improve the tax base of the village by attracting new and expanded business opportunities.”
Park said the committee initially focused on the question: “What are the top economic development issues facing the village?”
The committee then developed six suggested policies to drive the economic development efforts.
First was creating an economic development strategy. Park said it was essential for Gurnee to be pro-active in preserving its tax base by providing business developers with access to essential village resources.
Second, Park said it was necessary to create a uniform business attraction and retention policy.
“We need to meet with business and discuss issues such as business retention,” Park said, “and we need to do a better job of marketing the community to attract more businesses.”
Third, he advocated more attention be paid to sound village infrastructure and identify where investment opportunities exist “to improve and diversify the village’s sources of funding.”
Park pointed out that Gurnee’s infrastructure has been neglected during the recent recession, “but it is crucial in attracting new business opportunities,” he said.
Another recommendation called for more modified land-use planning for redevelopment.
“As the community transforms into a more mature community, new opportunities will need to be identified for the few vacant parcels, under-utilized properties or areas that can benefit from redevelopment,” Park stressed. “We also need to become more customer friendly.”
Park pointed out that efficiencies in the project approval process could be streamlined and speeded up, such as applications for permits, construction inspections, and simplified, consistent communications between village officials and prospects.
Finally, Park said it is crucial that all the key agencies dealing in business attraction exchange information and pull together as a team working toward mutually beneficial goals.
“These policies will help us move ahead,” said Trustee Greg Garner.
Mayor Kristina Kovarik said, “Economic development belongs to everyone in Gurnee, and the EDC provides a good road map for achieving our goals.”