The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


April 15, 2014

Hoopeston group discusses economic development

HOOPESTON — Economic growth was on the agenda Monday night in Hoopeston as about 50 people gathered at St. Anthony's Parish Hall to discuss an economic development strategy for the city.

The interactive session was to set priorities to support economic growth from a list of goals obtained from the March meeting. Goals and objectives were listed for housing, infrastructure, services, business attraction and retention, education, community image, community amenities and city administration.

"It's not just up to the city council and economic development (group) to make it happen," said Susan Chavarria, Champaign Regional Planning Manager. "Economic development, council and all available resources must work together. Look at objectives and see what can be done."

Each table discussed the goals and objectives from the larger list to prioritize the objectives down to smaller lists for each goal. A summary of these lists will be presented to the Core Committee at its next meeting.

The Core Committee, 25 representatives of the City, would consider the objectives, discuss, prioritize, change or add to the list and, finally, find potential resources, grants, loans, incentives and ways to implement the strategic plan.

Chavarria cautioned there must be a go-to-person to keep the strategy plan going.

The final draft, after approval by the committee, would be forwarded to the city council for adoption.

Some of the objectives discussed were to create and enforce stricter regulations related to rental properties and maintenance; strengthen ordinances regarding building maintenance, nuisance elements on properties, and building codes; continue to support the renovation of the historic Lorraine Theatre as a community attraction and downtown anchor; and review and improve processes in City Hall to ensure that information for potential residents, developers, entrepreneurs and visitors is readlily available.

City officials hired the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission in January to assist with the creation of the community's economic development strategy, the cost not to exceed $10,000 for its technical services.

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