Council to view economic growth plan

Almost two months ago, Champaign City Council directed city staff to develop an economic development plan. On Tuesday, council members will get a chance to view the first draft of this plan, which helps prioritize economic goals for Champaign.

The economic development strategic plan will be addressed at Tuesday’s city council meeting during the study session portion of the agenda. Also up for discussion are eight items on the regular meeting agenda.

Back in December, the council approved the creation of this plan. Champaign Mayor Don Gerard said not much was changed from earlier discussions, only that there will be a greater emphasis on looking for more opportunities to generate revenue and develop more business in areas such as the Second Street Reach.

The draft will address seven important economic development focal points that the city deems essential. They include the promotion of events and facilities of Champaign, maintaining Champaign’s position as a retail destination, job creation and the continued support of the University.

Despite the University’s economic struggles during the past few years, many resources and locations have helped promote growing prosperity between the two sides, such as Campustown, Research Park and University employees living in the area.

Councilman Michael LaDue, district 2, is manager of Jon’s Pipe Shop, which is one of the oldest on campus, dating back to the 1960s. He said he recalls when businesses did not want to open shop on Green Street because of the flooding problems the area once had.

When the city decided to fix Boneyard Creek, the cause of these flooding problems, he said the area became an attractive location for businesses.

LaDue said he hopes city officials continue investing in the city, as businesses do like the area.

“New businesses are coming in and older businesses are coming back,” LaDue said. “Despite a devastating fire, Zorba’s and Za’s will return to the same locations. They love being on Campustown.”

This current plan will incorporate other initiatives such as the capital improvement plan and the council goals. The 2011-13 council goals will be up for a vote Tuesday. The council last met to finalize and edit their goals and visions back in November.

The goals include: fostering residents’ quality of life, providing first-rate services, fiscal responsibility, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability and transparency within city government.

Gerard said little was changed from the last goal-setting session and thinks the council “came up with some guidelines we’re very happy with.”

The city council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the city council chambers, 102 N. Neil St.