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Genoa City Council displeased with economic strategic planning group

GENOA – Kevin McArtor and Linda Underwood got a chilly reception when they appeared before the Genoa City Council seeking money for a new economic planning committee.

McArtor and Underwood are both members of the city’s Economic Development Commission and have worked to form a new task force called the Genoa Economic Action Committee. The group was formed and applied for a grant to do strategic planning work without City Council members’ knowledge or blessing.

According to the group’s mission statement, it is a collaborative group committed to growing opportunities to live, work, stay and play in the Genoa area. The committee includes representatives of Genoa Main Street, the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce, Genoa-Kingston School District 424 and the city.

“You’ve been working on this since January,” 1st Ward Alderman Glennis Carroll said, “but you don’t inform us until March?”

“We had a deadline of March 1 for the grant, so we had to move quickly,” McArtor replied.

McArtor explained that the group had an opportunity to seek a grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation, which would be used to pay for strategic planning services from the Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies.

The first time aldermen learned of the committee was at the chamber’s annual meeting in February, when former Main Street Director Mim Evans, now employed at the Center for Governmental Studies, presented the committee and its objectives.

“This is just a means to get started on strategic planning,” McArtor told the council.

Fourth Ward Alderman Jay Hanson said similar planning was done, at the city’s expense, about 10 years ago.

“I’m just concerned you’ll be duplicating the city’s efforts with another layer of bureaucracy,” Hanson said.

McArtor said the group didn’t mean to imply the city wasn’t doing anything.

“The economy has had a chilling effect,” he said. “We just thought a look by a third party might help.”

Council members took no action on McArtor’s request for a $1,000 contribution from the city to the committee for strategic planning.

Although McArtor requested a $1,000 contribution on behalf of the committee from the city for strategic planning, the council took no action.

After discussion with the rest of the Economic Development Commission, McArtor said they plan to talk with Genoa Mayor Mark Vicary about approaching the council again at its March 18 meeting.

“We got excited about this and went forward a little faster than we should have,” McArtor said. “I understand the council just wants to be brought up to speed.”

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