EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Chicago Southland EDC adding value in 2013

2013-03-24T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Chicago Southland EDC adding value in 2013By Michael Scholefield nwitimes.com
March 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp. is entering its 10th year of service.

As a spin-off of the former Chicago Southland Alliance, CSEDC has provided economic support services in the areas of infrastructure improvements and expansion, planning assistance, grant preparation, management, and reporting, private sector retention and attraction.

More than $25 million in regional, state, federal and foundation funding has been secured to move an inclusive approach to regional economic development well into the 21st century.

The Southland service area has provided opportunities and challenges relative to market changes, technological advances, environmental impacts, employment shifts under hyper-competitive conditions, while capitalizing on regional strengths and addressing identified system weaknesses.

And, at the end of the day, the CSEDC rate of accomplishment resembles a promising teenager's report card -- a mixture of successes and incompletes. In other words, there is room for improvement.

Beginning this year, staff, investors, and interested parties are going to be diving into the deep-end of issues affecting not only the business climate as we know it, but also the climate we know it could be.

It means focusing on specific sectors, engaging the players and enhancing the environment to promote.

We propose in specific sectors, finance for example, to connect the institutions and individuals involved in its day-to-day operations with developing financial programs – the newly formed land bank and capital development programs, naming two – and link participating groups to opportunities and engage them.

Similarly, workforce (job) programs, in the case of financial institutions, based on the needs of particular clients in specific industries, for example, will be presented with the prospects of plugging eager, competent candidates into growing markets.

Extend the model to include manufacturing, transportation, hospitality, education, public sector, and hopefully we will begin to see results -- and with it, an expanded, engaged Southland business community.

The new CSEDC strategy focuses on building stronger relationships with each stakeholder beyond financially investing in the organization.

The emphasis of these specific “break-out” sessions is to serve as an extension of the successful quarterly development meetings. By providing more in-depth, timely coverage of a topic, staff intends to offer even more relevant information/opportunities to a designated group.

Additional topics worth focusing on include:

  • Municipalities, using the South Suburban Geographic Information System Atlas for economic development, housing and land use.
  • Manufacturing workforce, the green collar workforce.
  • Real estate, CSEDC service area development trends.
  • Banking, land banking and capital development fund opportunities.
  • Your Ideas Here.

Michael Scholefield is chairman of the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp. The opinions are the writer's.

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