REALITY CHECK: Do Economic Development corporations really help local workforce?

REALITY CHECK: Do Economic Development corporations really help local workforce? (WICS PHOTO)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WICS) -- Dozens of non-profits in our area use a mix of government and private dollars in hopes of building a healthy economy.

Less than a year in business, leaders of the newly established Land of Lincoln Economic Development Corporation says it has big plans for Sangamon County. Eric Bergland is the President and CEO of the organization.

"While we may have other organizations in town, we're very specifically focused on how we market Springfield as a place to do business," Bergland said.

The key, however, is supporting businesses long-term as our region has seen some business open recently, and many others close.

"The business community said we can't rely on government to do it alone," Bergland said. "Governments are recognizing that we can't do it alone. We need to have the business community here."

There are more than a dozen economic development groups in our region, some of which, rely on government funding more than others. Despite that, Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder says the job rate is still down.

"You have one business close, and another one open," Langfelder said. "All anyone has to do is drive around any area of Springfield. It really shows our strength."

NewsChannel20 found that the 2019 fiscal state budget shows that lawmakers approved spending $33.5 million for things like "Prime Sites," which is a business development program. $500 million was also approved in funding for economic development research at the University of Illinois.

"It's really important that the organization make sure the community understands and buys into what they are trying to achieve and over-communicate what they try to achieve."

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