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By Steven Spencer
The Calhoun Community Foundation held a meeting at the University of Illinois Extension Office Thursday evening, Nov. 10, to discuss the future of forming the Calhoun Growth Association (CGA).
Mary Louise Helbig with the Calhoun Community Foundation said the growth association is still in the research phase, but several businesses and individuals have expressed interest in the possible benefits the CGA could have on the community.
“Conceptually we have ideas how we think the organization should be structured, but it’s not definitive,” Helbig said. “Ultimately, if the organization moves forward and forms it will be the members who decide these things.”
Helbig said there’s a community strategic plan that includes several needs in the county such as access, infrastructure, and sustainability, and the growth association would work towards addressing those needs.
Access needs included ferry services, renovations, improvement and mitigation. Infrastructure needs included major improvements such as Winfield Dam and Joe Page Bridge, water and fiber deployment. Sustainability needs included ambulance and fire service equipment, schools, healthcare, tourism and attractions.
“The fundamental thought is that increasing our tax base through business and population growth, we’ll support in reinvesting in our community in critical infrastructure needs, so roads, ferries, health services, education, the schools and jobs,” Helbig said.
In order to address the issues the association would serve to help support existing businesses so they can sustain and grow, provide critical infrastructure so people want to live in the community, and finally promote Calhoun County.
Helbig said working better as a community throughout the county would play a large role in addressing the needs in the strategic plan.
“It will create more power and impact, and better results,” she said.
With interest from businesses including the Bank of Kampsville, Calhoun Ferry Company, Center for American Archeology, Country Financial, Odelehr’s Roadside Market, PCRE Real Estate and Auction, Spring Hallow Hemp, Quillers Outboard Sales/Services, Wittmond Hotel and the Village of Brussels, the main purpose of the night’s discussion was to see how the organization should move forward in terms of membership and involvement with various county governments.
The growth association would be open to any person, organization, corporation, or partnership that is interested in supporting the economic advancement of the county, and most likely include a membership fee.
After an open floor discussion, a plan was made to move forward and seek out more engagement and reach out further to county and city governments to see how they feel about the possibilities.