Mayors of other representatives of communities from throughout this region gathered in Vandalia on Monday to learn how state and federal agencies can help with economic development efforts.
Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill., 15th District) hosted the morning meeting at Holiday Inn Express as an educational seminar.
Shimkus said that he decided to hold meetings like this in his district after watching communities take on economic development projects.
“A lot of times, when we provided assistance in economic development over the years, we found out that there are a lot of programs out there,” Shimkus said.
“Sometimes, mayors and leaders and local communities don’t know everything that’s out there,” he said, giving one reason for the meeting.
“The other thing is, you kind of leverage one (program) on the other,” he said. “For example, an EPA Clean Water grant might help leverage a USDA Rural Water low-interest loan.
“We decided that we just needed to get everybody in one room” to show the types of economic development assistance that is available, Shimkus said.
The meeting included presentations by the offices of Shimkus and Illinois State Comptroller Leslie Munger, as well as representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, South Central Illinois Regional Planning and Development Commission and Southwestern Illinois Metropolitan and Regional Planning Commission.
The presentation on the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity was given by the agency’s director, Jim Schultz of Effingham.