economic development

Watch Decatur City Limitless

Charities are finding themselves asked to step in to help pay for services and programs that were previously in the government's domain. It seems to be an increasing trend since the economy took a dip several years ago.

Private fundraising for government programs is not necessarily new. State universities have long engaged in fundraising, especially with their alumni and elementary school groups have long held bake sales.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

  Guess what? 

State tax cuts don’t improve economic growth.

No, that’s not an April Fool’s Day zinger.

Rather, it’s the conclusion of a report issued last month by the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children, a nonpartisan advocacy organization for the state’s youngsters (Poor Finances, Uncertainty about Looming Revenue Collapse Threaten State Economy).

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Thursday's unemployment numbers show Decatur is once again lagging the rest of Illinois. That long-term trend is partly responsible for a new law aimed at changing the way Illinois handles economic development.

In Decatur, 13.2 percent of job-seekers can't find work. State Sen. Andy Manar — a Democrat whose district includes Decatur — says that's part of the reason he thought it was time to blow up the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and start over.

It’s a land-use squeeze play: 

Rockford is expanding eastward, while Chicagoland is creeping westward from McHenry County. Boone County is sandwiched in between. 

“We’re getting hit from both sides,” says Mark Williams, executive director of Growth Dimensions, a nonprofit organization promoting economic development in that county. 

Development spilling out of Chicago, for example, is just miles from consuming Belvidere, the Boone County seat that is more than 70 miles from the Loop. 

Joliet Rising Cover
John Randolph / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Two decades ago Joliet faced an economic crisis.

A national depression hammered industry and related businesses, and layoffs pushed the local unemployment rate near 25 percent, the highest of any municipality in the country. City Hall ran late on health insurance premiums for its own employees. And the housing market hit bottom. In 1982, only 16 homes were built in this city southwest of Chicago.

"Things got so bad then that they could only issue us one bullet," says Joliet Mayor Arthur Schultz, a police lieutenant at the time.