Economic growth, development addressed
Economic growth and development efforts were addressed at last week’s regular meeting of the Union County Board of Commissioners.
The meeting was Friday morning, Feb. 10, at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro.
The county board welcomed Mike Stegle, Candy Eastwood and Tabitha Smith to the meeting.
Stegle is president of the Union County Economic Development Corporation. The corporation works to promote local economic growth and development.
Eastwood is executive director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Shawnee Community College near Ullin.
The center, according to its website, provides assistance to small businesses with start-up, expansion, business and marketing plan assistance, accessing financing opportunities, and a variety of seminars and workshops.
Eastwood noted that over the past several years, the center has worked with some 140 businesses in the Union County area.
Smith is executive director of the Southernmost Illinois Delta Empowerment Zone Inc., SIDEZ.
SIDEZ has been working since 1999 to promote economic development, infrastructure development and tourism in Alexander, Pulaski, Johnson and Massac counties.
Stegle, Eastwood and Smith asked county officials to consider working with SIDEZ to enhance Union County growth and development efforts.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for Union County,” Eastwood said about the proposal.
SIDEZ offers a wide range of resources, including revolving loan funds, access to USDA rural business development grant funds, a youth entrepreneurial camp, scholarships and a business center.
Smith explained that SIDEZ is a self-sustaining operation.
She said that there would be “no financial obligation” for Union County to participate in SIDEZ.
“We do not want to compete with what you have, we want to assist,” Smith said. “It’s a service we can offer.”
County commissioners responded positively to the presentation and decided to move forward on the proposal.
Union County State’s Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds suggested that a resolution be drafted to formally voice support for participation in the SIDEZ program. The county board could act as soon as its next meeting on the matter. The board’s next meeting is scheduled on Feb. 24.