Editor's note: The following is a release issued Wednesday by the Vermilion Advantage Board

The Vermilion Advantage Board of Directors is deeply saddened to announce the passing of President and CEO Vicki L. Haugen. She died on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.

Vicki leaves an extraordinary 38-year legacy of unparalleled work as Vermilion County’s economic development leader.

“She has been the heart of the organization since its inception,” said Jon Stalcup, Vermilion Advantage Board Chair. “All who had the privilege of knowing Vicki understand that Vermilion Advantage was not her occupation, it was her life’s mission. Giving back to the community she loved so dearly was her calling and she put every ounce of energy into helping Vermilion County succeed. Vicki’s sound judgement, spirit and passion will be deeply missed. She will continue to be a source of inspiration that we can draw on, much like her mentor and our founding director, Lou Mervis. Vermilion County is far different today than it would have been otherwise without a citizen like Vicki.”

Tinisha Spain, director of business development, will serve as interim President and CEO as a succession plan is developed.

Vicki joined the Economic Development Corporation in Danville, IL at its inception in 1982. She served as Vice President of Marketing and later President & CEO. In 2002 she became the founding President & CEO of Vermilion Advantage, the newly formed organization encompassing the former Economic Development Corporation and Danville Area Chamber of Commerce. With Vermilion Advantage, Vicki was responsible for the implementation and oversight of economic development activities, business services and workforce development for Vermilion County, Illinois. She is a graduate of Danville High School and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Business Administration - Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. She has been a faculty member for the Illinois Basic Economic Development program since 1995.

Vicki is a lifelong resident of Vermilion County and is survived by her husband, Wayne Haugen.

As a direct result of her work, thousands of local jobs were created/retained, ensuring Vermilion County’s viability amidst much adversity. She was renowned for leading through the area’s difficulties and remaining an optimistic, fierce advocate for progress and development. Her tireless behind-the-scenes work resulted in new business locations and/or extensive local expansions including: Alcoa, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Thyssenkrupp (formerly Krupp Gerlach,) McLane Midwest, AutoZone Distribution, StraPack, Freight Car Services, Sygma, Hoopeston Foods, REG, Watchfire Signs, Automation International and Fiberteq. She was the driving force in the development of both Eastgate and Southgate Industrial Parks. Most recently, she led a coalition which resulted in a $70 million Carle Hospital investment in Danville’s west downtown area.

Vicki also led the 2013 retail explosion in the Danville area. She created marketing opportunities and campaigns to encourage people to shop locally. Her leadership was critical to the success of an 18-month retail expansion in the community that created over 500,000 square feet of new retail space and significantly repurposed existing spaces including: Meijer, Kohl’s, Ross, Ruler, TJ Maxx, Joanne Fabrics, Burlington Coat Factory and Slumberland.

Following trips in the 1990s to both Japan and Germany, Vicki launched a groundbreaking, collaborative approach to workforce development that would ultimately serve as a community catalyst. She was among the first in the nation to bring industry and education together to envision a new kind of workforce education. These pioneering workforce development initiatives resulted in new education and training programs, scholarships, apprenticeships and internships which impacted thousands of local residents. This innovative strategy was named one of the seven best in the nation by the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Partial list of Awards, Accomplishments and Community Service Leadership:

• Named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International

• Named Business & Professional Women’s Club Woman of the Year

• Named to the Danville High School Wall of Fame

• Awarded United Way of Danville Area Women United Leadership Award

• Selected by Gov. Jim Edgar, State of Illinois as a member of the Economic Development Board 1993 and 1997

• Named Woman of Achievement by American Association of University Women

• Selected as the Danville Branch of the American Association of University Women’s Annual Woman of the Year

• Mayor Robert E. Jones proclaimed March 6, 1995 as Vicki L. Stewart Day in Danville

• Named the Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction – Green Meadows Girl Scout Council

• Awarded Distinguished Economic Development winner by Illinois Development Council

Served as United Way Campaign Chair

• Named Woman of the Year (Business) by the Commercial-News

• Past or current member: Danville Rotary, Executive Club

Vicki Haugen will be deeply missed by the board, her staff, her many friends and everyone who benefited from her extraordinary passion for Vermilion County.

Wayne has asked that in lieu of flowers to the home or funeral home that donations be made to the OSF Healthcare Foundation to further support cancer treatment and services in Vermilion County.

Burial services will be private and a public celebration of Vicki’s life will be at a later date.

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