September 16, 2003

City council and reviving Galesburg

Last night I went to the Galesburg City Council meeting. No particular agenda, just wanted to check it out, meet my alderman, etc. And knit, of course. :)

The actual meeting itself was about what you'd expect; a few miscellaneous proclamations and pro forma business votes. There was a bit of discussion over the city's hotel/motel tax---whether to keep it at 7% or let it slide back to 5%, and whether to keep pumping part of it to the Orpheum, a historic theatre that everyone wants to keep around. Also a bit about whether to replace a yield sign at a dangerous intersection with a stop sign (the question was whether this would cause traffic to back up onto another street); and about why we were spending $8K for IDs for the police and fire department. I really like one of the aldermen, an unapologetically cranky old man with a gravelly voice who manages to ask just the right questions.

After the meeting, I introduced myself to my alderman, a nice middle-aged woman who is right on the same page as me wrt getting people down here, putting in loft apartments downtown, getting more good restaurants, maybe a deli or a corner grocery so we don't have to go out to Henderson or East Main to get food. Specifically on the idea of convincing people to move here and telecommute, occasionally going up to Chicago by train, she referred me to the mayor, a Chicago transplant himself, who in turn introduced me to the director of the local economic development association, Eric Voyles.

His background is in helping factories and such get set up: arranging for utilities, warehouses, that sort of thing. But now they're trying to figure out how to lure more white-collar offices down here. Of course, the two internet utilities in town refuse to tell the town anything about their infrastructure (national security, doncha know), so they can neither advertise what they have nor know how to improve it. Nonetheless, they're trying to form a high-tech incubator here. Should be attractive, right? Cheap rent, cheap utilities, cheap office help. And a techie startup with just two or three core people and VC could come down here and hire a bunch of office staff, buy office supplies, pay rent, not to mention living here and buying all the things associated with that. Talk about your economic multipliers. Meanwhile, they're also doing studies on people who have moved to, or back to, Galesburg from bigger cities: why? What attracted them? How can we attract more?

This is so exciting! Anyone has any ideas, email me. Especially if you know about the sorts of thing that you needed or would have liked in a startup; these guys have never done this before, and it'd suck to sink a bunch of money into something that was almost right.

"It would be awfully embarassing to come back from the dead only to spend your time in jail for insurance fraud." --Mike McLawhorn

Posted by blahedo at 6:59pm on 16 Sep 2003
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