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Knox County Economic Group Lays Out Four-Year Plan

T.J. Carson
Partnership President Ken Springer introduces the strategic plan to Knox County area leaders during the partnership's annual breakfast last month.

Now in its second year, the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development is ready to move forward with a plan to boost the local economy.

Partnership President Ken Springer said it’s a four point plan to be implemented over the next four years. The plan focuses on:

  • Support and expansion for existing businesses
  • Attracting Non-Retail Businesses
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Community Involvement

Springer said the points in the plan are not prioritized in any order, adding that some of them will be easier and quicker to work on than others. One example is an entrepreneur workshop that the Partnership hosted in February.
Springer said developing entrepreneurship is a key objective this year. He said the partnership will look at ways to give a financial boost to start-ups.

“There’s a big movement right now with crowd funding, with Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. You’re starting to see more businesses utilize that as a way to get started, could we (perhaps) be the local experts on doing crowd funding for startup businesses?” Springer said.

Springer said ideas that will take time to develop include a marketing plan that details what trade shows and events to become involved with. He said the Partnership also wants to get involved in events and projects that may not have a direct economic impact but will benefit the area. He named the Heart & Soul Galesburg project as an example.

The Partnership's four-year plan has four goals:

  • Creating 650 full-time jobs over 4 years
  • Average wages of $25,000/year
  • $60 million in capital investment launching
  • 20 new companies over 4 years

Springer said the goals are very ambitious but they must be done.
“Frankly, if we look at our future we have to achieve these kind of results if we’re going to move this community forward,” Springer said.

Springer said he would also like to grow the partnership and the support base, with a desire to have every business in the area working towards the goal.