EDC to finish plan before seeking new executive

EDC to finish plan before seeking new executive

CHAMPAIGN — Cameron Moore, the new chair of the Champaign County Economic Development Corp., said he expects the group to complete its strategic plan before launching a search for a new CEO.

The organization terminated its employment contract with former CEO Mike Kirchhoff in June after less than a year on the job. Board members had hoped Kirchhoff would have better success than he did in increasing private-sector support for the group.

Moore, who became chair July 1, said he expects the strategic plan to be completed by late September and unveiled at the annual meeting in late October. A decision about leadership could be made sometime after that.

Moore said it would be his preference to begin a search for a new CEO in early 2014.

Joining Moore as officers of the economic development group for the coming year are Lori Gold Patterson of Pixo, vice chair, and Chris Shroyer of Busey Bank and Mike Billimack of Carle, each of whom will serve six months as treasurer.

Newly appointed to board seats are Champaign school Superintendent Judy Wiegand, Urbana school Superintendent Don Owen, Randy Rodriguez of Kraft and Liz Kellner of the Singleton Law Firm.

They succeed outgoing board members Victor White, Laura Berg, Preston Williams and Bruce Walden.

At Wednesday's board meeting, the group's deputy director, Erik Kotewa, reported that 15 retention visits were made to area businesses during May and June.

Among the larger employers visited were FedEx Ground, Caterpillar Logistics Services (now Neovia Logistics Services), Eagle Wings Industries, Engineered Plastic Components, Litania Sports Group and Plastic Container Corp.

He said the group also worked on three leads, including two data-center projects and a company interested in building a warehouse served by a railroad.

The group is also monitoring the progress of Cronus Chemical, which is considering Tuscola as the site for a fertilizer plant that would employ about 200.

Kotewa and Communications Director Carly McCrory said the economic development group put together industry roundtables for companies in Rantoul, on North Market Street in Champaign and on North Lincoln Avenue in Urbana.

Separate roundtables were held for companies in the biotechnology, manufacturing and distribution sectors, giving them a chance to discuss common concerns.

Patterson, chair of the economic development group's workforce/education committee, proposed coordinating "an annual or biannual workforce development summit."

Patterson said her committee — which has met at Flex-N-Gate and at Parkland College's Applied Technology Center — is eager to develop connections between educators and companies, in hopes of better meeting the needs of employers and graduates.

The next steps in coordinating a summit, she said, might include looking at funding options, partnerships, community interest and development of a pilot proposal.

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