By Charlene Bielema Herald Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Clinton Regional Development Corp. leaders announced Tuesday the hiring of a new CRDC president and chief executive officer who will be tasked with marketing Clinton and the region to prospective employers, attracting new business and helping local companies grow.
Mike Kirchhoff, an Illinois native who has more than 20 years of experience in economic development, will officially begin his work at the CRDC on Sept. 16.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the Clinton region,” Kirchhoff said. “Multiple new or expanded businesses, a new multi-modal business park, and a great business climate combine to make our region the envy of other economic development groups around the country.”
Kirchhoff has spearheaded projects resulting in nearly $2 billion in private investment and the creation or retention of more than 15,000 jobs. His economic development background includes positions with The Indy Partnership in Indianapolis, Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City (Mo.), Illinois Power Company, the State of Illinois and DPI Group Economic Development Consultants. Most recently, he was CEO of the Champaign County (Ill.) Economic Development Corp.
A Certified Economic Developer, Kirchhoff holds degrees in economics and business management from Eastern Illinois University and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute.
He said his windshield tour of Clinton led him to feel like he was home and noted that the many projects around town signal Clinton is reinvesting in itself and preparing for the future. He is especially impressed with Clinton’s historic industrial base, the riverfront, the new middle school that is under construction and Liberty Square.
He said the city and its leaders have vision and have made tough decisions during rough economic times that will serve as a springboard for future development. He also is optimistic about a proposal to replace the train bridge that crosses the Mississippi River at Clinton.
“That is a tremendous opportunity,” he said of the bridge, adding that it would position Clinton to be a key cog in the Union Pacific Railroad’s wheel.
The announcement of his hiring comes eight months after the departure of former CRDC President and CEO Steve Ames, who now is senior vice president of economic development at The Stanislaus Economic and Workforce Alliance in Modesto, Calif.
Since that time, the CRDC has been led by its board of directors and board president Rich Phelan. Phelan earlier this year announced RAIL.ONE, an international manufacturer of railroad ties based in Germany, would be building its first North American location in Clinton’s 1,000-acre Lincolnway Air and Rail Park, which is on track to become one of Iowa’s first certified Super Sites. Work on that project currently is under way.
Also, longtime Clinton business Data Dimensions announced a major local expansion and is building a 30-square-foot data center in the Lyons Business and Technology Park.
“The Clinton region is positioned for economic growth on a global scale and we are confident Mike has the experience and proven leadership to build upon our assets and recent success,” Phelan said.
While Phelan said Kirchhoff is a great match for the city of Clinton and the region as they prepare for more growth, expansion also will happen within the CRDC itself, Phelan noted. An offer has been extended to a potential hire to fill a now-vacant economic development specialist position. That person is expected to join the CRDC in late September, Phelan said.
Kirchhoff is married and has two daughters, one of whom is attending college. The youngest will enroll in Clinton High School as a freshman.
Founded in 1953, the Clinton Regional Development Corporation is one of the first economic development organizations in America. The CRDC serves a bi-state region centered on Clinton, which is located at the intersection of the Union Pacific Railroad east-west mainline and U.S. 30 on the upper Mississippi River. The Clinton region is Iowa's closest point to Chicago, approximately 120 miles away.