Galesburg unifies effort for economic development

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Galesburg is bouncing back from tough times by developing a new vision for economic development.

That's after aldermen approved closing three separate entities to create a unified board to attract businesses and grow jobs.

When BDi was getting off the ground a decade ago, it got plenty of pointers from the Galesburg Regional Economic Development Association, GREDA.

"If it wasn't for GREDA and the people in that organization, we wouldn't be here," said BDi owner Rick Dechow.

The company now makes industrial screens for a variety of clients around the world. It's a reason why Galesburg wants to attract more firms like BDi.

The region is poised to count on one source for economic development. The Knox County Board is expected to approve it later this month.

"I think it's very important," Dechow continued. "I'm very hopeful they'll get more businesses in town because of this new approach."

Starting in June, there will be one source instead of three.

Private owners will take over the Sustainable Business Center. City, county and private efforts will morph into a new public-private partnership.

"It takes care of any confusion when somebody wants to come and do business in Galesburg," said Steven Brody, executive director of the Galesburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

A decade after the Maytag plant's demise, Galesburg continues to craft its identity. There's hope that a unified approach will pay dividends.

Developers considering Knox County should find a clearer situation.

"This is an important effort overall because it will change the trajectory of our community," said Mayor John Pritchard, who has been working on the concept for nearly a year.

That one voice will give businesses a clear path for opening in Galesburg and Knox County. That means a lot inside the plant at BDi.

"I'm looking forward to more businesses in town because this town has a lot of people that would like to go to work," Dechow concluded.

It could be a unified voice for community success in Knox County.