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By Cynthia Haggitt
Cities often grow up around key locations in a city. Areas could be a railway, a highway or a parking lot. The ease of accessibility became a comparative idea that suggests that development can occur along the transportation lines leading out from a center point in the city into areas where business and growth continue. It has been said if you build it they will come.
“We realize that we have the largest walkable, entertainment and shopping districts in the region. Jerseyville City Center is 28 blocks of contiguous shopping, eating, drinking establishments, green space history, park, entertainment, offices and residential space. Nowhere else in the area has anything close to it,” Sherri Albrecht, Director of Economic Development, said. “Once we realized what made us unique, we started to discuss how we should use these gifts to create a cultural center of our community and Jerseyville City Center was born.”
She discussed the highlights of the talented artists and entertainers while promoting literacy, supporting our expanding small business community. She spoke about how the city has embraced the technology that consumers have demanded. She spoke about how the city has big plans for the expansion of its parks and recreational opportunities.
Senator Steve McCLure also came to the ribbon cutting ceremony and gave a speech about who the visionaries were for the project.
“I mean, look at what’s happened and lots of the areas of this state are not growing anymore, but not in Jerseyville, you’re growing and you’ve got people that are here that are visionaries and they’re putting the work in and they’re making big plans,” Senator Steve McClure said. “What can we do? We got to go out there and find people to come and provide a reason to come here. And that’s exactly what the locals are doing, led by the Mayor Russel,”
Senator McClure stated even in the shadow COVID, Jeresyville is growing and the Econimic City Development project is unique and this is important to the community.
“A center, a focal point and grounding place that gives hope to park communities to set itself up as an area that can give hope.” Mayor Russel said it best-” I hope that you will realize that the Jerseyville City Center Park(JCCP) is really so much more.”
Russell mentioned that JCCP is not a geographic location, it’s not just a park, and it’s also not a traditional downtown development program. JCCP is a holistic destination branding program designed to bring people to our community to shop, eat, live, give hope to a community for continued success.
Russel explained that this program is about our whole community bringing ourselves together. He said it’s about creating an area that makes it family friendly and wants young people to come to our community to visit and spend some of their money here.
“We all worked together as a team to try and do what’s best for our community. How important that is because we used the TIF money to make improvements to do these projects so that the money will help our area out and allow for business growth,” Russell said. “At one point, I think we had 12 to 15 empty and vacated buildings. The JCCP is an effort of all the workers working together to make Jerseyville a better place to be.”
“It’s been wonderful to partner with our local groups. That has been our theme for this whole thing. We wanted to bring everybody together and it worked out perfectly,” Michael Ward, the media marketing coordinator for JCCP, also working under the Economic Local Tourism program, said.
Ward has worked hard to kick off the week-long celebrations in Jerseyville.
“Actually, we started on Wednesday with a blood drive that was sponsored by Royal Banks of Jerseyville. And from what I learned, it was a huge success. They filled all 28 spots, so that’s a great feat for us as a community.”
On Tuesday evening Ward said, “We’re proud to have JCBA. It’s all about JCBA. The shops were open late and they had the Makers Faire under the water tower and they also had the farmers market. They were a huge success. We’re proud to have them on board with us.”
“Wednesday kicked off the first Arts and Culture Day in Jerseyville and showcased all that our community has to offer when it comes to our youth and teaches them the skills that the older crowd has to give,” Ward said. “On Wednesday and Thursday, Shop the 618. If you haven’t heard of that group, it’s a group of about 14 retail establishments in Jerseyville. They banded together and they created their own team where they promote themselves and they have different events that’s going on around as well.”
Ward mentioned that the following Thursday, they had planned a nostalgia bingo and in Dolan Park there was a movie sponsored by CNB Bank and Trust.
“We’re proud to have them on board.They showed Rea and the Last Dragon and then Saturday the week ended with Shop the 618, with one of their quarterly events, where you go to one of the participating establishments,” Ward said. “It’s available on their Facebook page and you get a card, you get a punch and then turn it in for prices. It’s a huge success. They had a great turnout, and it’s a huge boost for our retail establishments in Jerseyville.“
“It is going to be a destination branding program for this city. Everyone has worked to create this incredible premier shopping center, dining center, and entertainment choice in the region,” Senator McClure said.
McClure mentioned that Jerseyville has 28 contiguous blocks of restaurants, entertainment nightlife, shopping history, green space, offices and residential spaces. He said this is what is needed in an area like this for continuous growth and looking ahead in the future, this is going to increase the revenue of the City of Jerseyville. He said it’s going to increase property values. Also It’s going to increase the number of new businesses that are going to be startup businesses and provide an opportunity for existing businesses to excel.
“I mean, think about that and I look forward to coming here and when this is all done, it’s going to be even more unbelievable.” Senator McClure said.
“The idea is to create a pedestrian, family friendly visit, a friendly community. So it’s a win in every situation. All I can do is congratulate everyone and see what I can do to address help in the near future. Let us know Jerseyville.” McClure said. “I mean, think about that and I look forward to coming here and when this is all done, it’s going to be even more unbelievable.”