Moving forward with economic development

Commissioners seeking residents, business owners, to join committees

LAKE COUNTY — Lake County Board of Commissioners are continuing to work toward economic development and are seeking the public’s input on several new subcommittees.

In December, the Lake County Economic Development Ad-Hoc Committee presented its report to the board of commissioners. The report described the actions the committee took to understand economic conditions in the county and included residents’ ideas for future economic development. The report also contains the committee’s recommendations.

Since then, an Economic Development Committee has been formed, and three subcommittee have recently been formed under that committee to tackle specific issues, said Commissioner Dan Sloan, Economic Development Committee chair. The subcommittees will seek input from county residents and business owners to help develop an overall strategic economic development plan.

The first subcommittee also will be spearheaded by Sloan. The subcommittee is tasked with forming private/public economic development organization, he said.

“We have formed a subcommittee that will recruit citizen members,” Sloan said. “They will come from the business community, the business organizations — by that I mean the chamber and the tourist association — nonprofits and local government.”

The second subcommittee is spearheaded by fellow Economic Development Committee member Commissioner Barbara Stenger and will focus on developing a strategic economic development master plan for the county. It too will consist of government and non-govenermental members to shape to county’s economic future.

“Everyone realizes that this is probably one of the most important issues in this county,” Stenger said. “Also, we are reaching out into all four corners of the county to bring in people that will give us the ideas and help us move forward with what will work.”

Stenger’s subcommittee will not only create a master plan, but she hopes it will eventually include an office staffed with a director to answer questions and assist anyone in creating a business and promote other businesses to come to Lake County.

“I feel this is a very exciting time for Lake County,” Stenger said. “It is just really wonderful to be looking to the future and see what can happen.”

The third subcommittee, also spearheaded by fellow Economic Development Committee member Commissioner Colleen Carrington-Atkins, is focused on short-term economic goals like creating a business directory.

Although the subcommitteestill is in its early stages, Carrington-Atkins envisions the directory as including all county businesses — big or small — and listing the businesses in alphabetical order, by township and containing maps.

“I’m anxious to get more people in the community involved,” Carrington-Atkins said. “I’ll be glad when we are doing that because I just see the community ... making the decisions for the county and the county commissioners still working with them, but not necessarily always taking the lead.”

All committee appointees must be approved by the board chair, Commissioner Karl Walls. Sloan believes that will take place by the end of June. He also envisions the committee should complete their duties by the end of the year.

Sloan also seemed optimistic about the county possibly securing a grant from the USDA Rural Development to brand the county as an off-road vehicle destination.

“Formal determinations have not been made,” Sloan said. “We don’t believe we will get the entire amount, but we are quite positive we will be awarded something.”

For more information on the commissioner’s Economic Development Committee or to join a subcommittee, contact the commissioners by contacting the Lake County Clerk’s Office at (231) 745-2725.