Vandalia Mayor Rick Gottman gave a mid-year update on the city’s financial condition and its economic development efforts at the July 6 monthly meeting of the Vandalia Chamber of Commerce.
In his presentation, Gottman outlined the staff and program cuts the city has been forced to make in response to diminishing revenues. He also talked about steps the city is taking to encourage economic development and tourism.
“We’re doing everything we can to promote business here,” he said. “And we’ll continue to drive economic development in our community. We’re out there, pounding the pavement and making the contacts.”
He said that he and other council members will meet with existing business owners to make sure their needs are being addressed, too. He also praised Tony Flowers for his recent efforts to start five new businesses on Gallatin Street.
In response to a question of what the chamber can do to help the city, Gottman said that the two entities must have a strong working relationship and that they must coordinate their efforts in economic development.
“We need to show that there is unity between the city and the chamber,” he said.
Gottman said that he will meet with Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon next month to discuss how to get state funds to begin construction of phase two of the Kaskaskia College campus in Vandalia. "We want to see it moved up on the priority list,” Gottman said.
Regarding the Tax Increment Financing program, Gottman said: “We will be revamping how the TIF program works in our community.
“We’ll set aside so much for projects such as downtown building facades, for infrastructure and for our young people. We’ll be putting more structure into our program.”
Chamber President Dana Whiteman reported that members of the chamber board recently met with Doug Whitley, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, to talk about defining the role and priorities of the local organization.
To further that goal, she said, a chamber board retreat to do long-range planning had been scheduled for Friday, July 15, at Fayette County Hospital.
John Ashdown reported that new signs were being installed at the chamber office, which also serves as the tourist information center for the community. Those signs, which will feature the chamber’s logo, will replace the aging wooden signs there.
New chamber member Lisa Burnam was welcomed into the organization.
The chamber held a “business-after-hours” reception at Pine Ridge Homes on July 21, and upcoming events include the re-scheduled Grande Levée and Corn Day on Sept. 23-24.
June Mahon reported that the tourist information center had 295 visitors from 27 states in June.