However, not everyone is convinced the CRDC has done enough for the communities within the region.
The CRDC represents the areas of Clinton, Camanche, Low Moor, Fulton, Ill., Albany, Ill., and Thomson, Ill., to enhance the regional business climate, attract new investment, expand existing industry and encourage new quality jobs.
The group was questioned this year by two municipalities that support it. The CRDC is funded 30 percent by government entities and 70 percent by corporate funds.
First, the Clinton City Council during its budget discussions questioned its annual contribution to the CRDC. Ultimately the city did not alter the amount.
At a meeting earlier this month, some members of the Camanche City Council also questioned its annual contribution, which is $10,000.
Camanche officials raised concerns over the CRDC’s lack of a leadership since former CEO Steve Ames left for an economic development job in California late last year. Recently, the CRDC also lost its other paid staff member, Karen Mallinger, leaving Phelan to serve as the interim CEO.
City council members also raised concerns that the CRDC hasn’t directly made a positive impact in Camanche in recent years.
Tom Roth during the Wednesday CRDC board meeting said he believes the economic development group benefits the city by bringing development to the region and nurturing business expansion.
“There is so much more to community development than just having something in your town,” Roth said.
Roth pointed out that Camanche hasn’t made the same financial investment in the railport as Clinton and Clinton County has. Yet, Camanche will reap some of the benefits.
Phelan, who will speak to the Camanche City Council at its Aug. 6 meeting, said a number of the RAIL.ONE employees will likely call Camanche home.
“RAIL.ONE is going to hire 65 people, roughly. Where are those people going to live? Well the closest community to the railport is Camanche,” Phelan said. “It’s logical that a large percentage of those people are going to live in Camanche and the railport is in the Camanche School District.”
While he acknowledged the CRDC needed to better communicate with its partners, Phelan said with the ongoing progress at the RAIL.ONE site, the forthcoming sale of property to NRM and the active search for a new CEO, the CRDC is thriving.
“I believe our organization is stronger than it’s ever been and we’re going to move forward,” Phelan said.