CLINTON — Clinton Regional Development Corporation President and CEO Mike Kirchhoff hushed all the naysayers on Tuesday as he unveiled a check for $2.8 million for Vision 2020.

“Some people in the community didn’t know if the goal (of $2.7 million) could be achieved,” Kirchhoff said. “I’m here to tell you, it was a spectacular success.”

Kirchhoff joined a number of local business owners, professional executives, city leaders and most importantly, investors, at a celebration event on Tuesday to not only showcase how successful the fundraising initiative was, but to tell all those investors what that money will be used to do.

It’s been a 10-month-long process to raise the money, but CRDC board chairman Rich Phalen said it’s only the beginning of the Vision 2020 goal.

“We talked a lot about Vision 2020 as an initiative versus a campaign. Campaigns have an end. This is a journey, it’s not a destination,” Phalen said. “If we don’t continue to grow (as a city) we will decline.”

The $2.8 million, which will continue to grow as the fundraising efforts do, will be allocated to five specific goals set out by the CRDC.

At the top of that goal list is to expand and retain existing industries.

“If we don’t support our existing companies, there’s no reason for new companies to come here,” Kirchhoff said. “We’re working to robustly improve our work with existing companies.”

In order to do that, said Kirchhoff, the CRDC first needs to hire a Vice President of Existing Industry. With only two, full-time employees staffed at the CRDC, Kirchhoff said while he is busy recruiting new businesses to the region, it takes away from his ability to ensure established industries are getting the attention they deserve.

That also relates to the region as a whole. In addition to working in the city of Clinton, the CRDC also serves Camanche, Clinton County and Fulton, Illinois. Those extra territories add additional responsibilities, but also represent one of the CRDC’s biggest assets.

Based on a number of economic development strategies, Kirchhoff explained on Tuesday, that working as a region is the only way the CRDC efforts will ever be successful.

“Ed (Cannon, Fulton City Adminstrator) and I were just at a conference in Madison, Wisconsin, and one of the things that they really emphasized to us is the importance of regionalism. It’s true,” Kirchhoff said. “Site selectors tell us, economic development experts tell us, that the way to be successful in economic development is regionalism. Regionalism is essential to success and economic development partnership is essential to economic development success.”

With a room full of dozens of the region’s most influential people, that regional support is evident in the CRDC’s vision, and it provides the organization and its many investors the confidence that all five goals of Vision 2020 will be accomplished.

“We expect that our success between now and 2020 will provide the momentum for even more and better and newer initiatives five years from now,” Phalen said.

Assistant Editor Amy Kent may be contacted at amykent@clintonherald.com.

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