One of the goals for the head of economic development in Hancock County is to get all of the communities on the same page.
“We’ve hit the point where everybody’s kind of realized that we need to work together,” said Dustin Berg, Executive Director of the Hancock County Economic Development Corporation.
“There’s no way around this. A countywide effort is going to have to do it because no one town can stand alone.”
Berg said one of his responsibilities is to keep the lines of communication open between communities so there is no duplication of efforts.
Berg said the office is a public-private partnership. Funding is provided by eight of the county’s nine largest communities: Augusta, Bowen, Carthage, Dallas City, Hamilton, LaHarpe, Nauvoo, and Warsaw. He’s hopeful the lone holdout – Plymouth – will soon join.
The communities involved pay $1.41 per capita. In addition, the county board provides money as do all the banks in the county. He said other private businesses and individuals also contribute.
Berg’s office celebrated one of its first successes with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Nugget Web, 412 Main Street in Warsaw.
Berg said Nugget Web is the county’s first small business devoted to on-line retail.
He said there it’s challenging to draw businesses to rural areas but he’s upbeat – he feels Hancock County is on the upswing.
“We’ve got businesses opening. We’ve got people working together. We’re exploring new opportunities,” said Berg.
He said it would be great to attract a large industry to Hancock County but his primary focus is on helping small businesses start and expand. He also said it benefits Hancock County when a business comes to another part of the region such as Macomb, Keokuk, or Quincy.
“It allows our people to gain employment there,” Berg said. “We have people working outside the county and then living here, and so they’re spending more money here. They’re living here, they’re paying taxes here.”
Berg’s first day on the job was January 7.
He said an economic development summit was held at the end of March and he hoped to hold more summits, though none have been scheduled.