September 18, 2007
Council approves $257,000 over next two years for marketing
(This item specifically relates to the Galesburg, IL regional area.)
GALESBURG - The city of Galesburg will kick in more than a quarter of a million dollars over the next two years to help Center Point/Mercantile market the logistics park east of town.
A 6-2 vote followed 90 minutes of discussion, which followed a presentation by the marketing committee that was created by the agreement between the city and the developers signed in April. The presentation at the regular City Council meeting touted the importance the logistics park plays in Galesburg's economic future and the need to adequately market it to possible tenants.
The city will contribute $257,800 during Fiscal Years 2007 and 2008, which is 35 percent of the $735,500 total. The Galesburg Regional Economic Development Association will contribute $103,500 and the developers will add $374,200, slightly more than half of the two-year total.
"This has been a historic moment tonight," said Mayor Gary C. Smith at the meeting's close. "I think that good things are going to come of this."
Voting against the funding were Ken Goad, Ward 1, and Russell Fleming, Ward 3.
KEN EXUM/The Register-Mail
Alderman Ken Goad watches Galesburg Economic Development Director Cesar Suarez speak about the importance of funding the Logistic Park Galesburg marketing committee's request for more money during the City Council meeting Monday at City Hall.
Before a packed council chambers, Tom Schmidt, president of Carl Sandburg College, Greg Mangieri, president of GREDA, Cesar Suarez, the city's economic development director, and Jeff Klinck, president of Galesburg Lincoln-Mercury, used graphics loaded with figures to point out that manufacturing is on the way out and transportation of goods is on the way up.
Schmidt and Mangieri are on the marketing committee. Suarez represented the city and Klink was taking the place of Center Point/Mercantile representatives who were in Phoenix meeting with prospective clients.
The familiar litany of Galesburg's assets, such as rail and highway access, central location and a "shovel ready" logistics park, were pointed out.
"What you see here now is opportunity," said Suarez.
The presentation ended shortly before 9 p.m. when a motion was made to pay the money as recommended by the city staff.
Points were made on both sides of the issue. Mike Lummis, Ward 7, asked about a 10-year exemption from paying taxes for tenants of the park, which Smith said was a necessity.
To not concede that, he said, would put Galesburg at the bottom of the list because "everybody else will."
Karen Lafferty, Ward 5, said the jobs the park would attract would put money in the city's coffers as workers spent their paychecks in local businesses.
Fleming said the council was being told that the whole enterprise would fail if the marketing money wasn't provided by the city.
"I don't believe that's the case," he said.
If Center Point/Mercantile is going to reap the benefit of a fully-leased park, it should be able to pay for all of the marketing. He pointed out that GREDA, which also is contributing, is an entity of the city.
Throughout the evening, members of the audience stood to support the funding. Bob Maus, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Bob Fulton, vice president of Gunther Construction, Jack Wyatt, retired president of Dick Blick, Richard Kowalski, chief executive officer of OSF St. Mary Medical Center and others spoke in favor.
Standing against it were two members of the public, John Stout and Mike Kroll. Stout, a frequent visitor to council meetings, simply said he was against it.
Kroll, a local businessman, said the logistics park would provide mostly low-paying blue collar jobs.
"Those kinds of jobs are not going to be the driver that makes this community successful," he said.
He said the city's share of the marketing budget could be spent better on other things.
Late in the discussion, some council members suggested tabling the item for a later meeting.
"I'm uncomfortable with having to make a decision on this tonight," said Bill Kendall, Ward 2.
The mayor shot down that idea in a hurry.
"The longer we push this away, we push the developers away," he said. "We're not the only game in town."
After the meeting, Goad said his vote against the funding was because he wanted to see the item tabled for more discussion and contemplation.
"This was really too much information to digest in a very short time," he said. "I was very much in favor of tabling it."
Had he had more time to consider it, Goad said, he might have voted in favor.
In other business, the council:
- Voted to change fees at Bunker Links Golf Course. The fee for playing nine holes was bumped up $1 to $11. The second member rate for family season passes was dropped from $265 to $210. Regular and senior season passes were increased by $10 and junior season passes were increased by $5.
- Approved paying an additional $4,840 for the demolition of Knox Laundry because the contractor encountered additional rental fees for equipment while the city conducted environmental testing on unknown pits found in the building.
This article, which was written by By RON JENSEN, originally appeared in the Tuesday, September 18, 2007 issue of The Register-Mail. This article, in turn, was posted to the Galesburg Regional Economic Development Association (www.greda.org).