Gerard points to job growth as '15 mayoral campaign gets started

Gerard points to job growth as '15 mayoral campaign gets started

CHAMPAIGN — In one of his first public events with a campaign team in tow, Mayor Don Gerard on Tuesday touted growth in Champaign during the last three years as evidence that the city is a leader in job development.

Positioned in the brand-new Hyatt Place hotel in downtown Champaign behind a placard that read "creating jobs in the city of Champaign" in all caps, Gerard said Champaign is a regional jobs leader and it took "tough political will" to do it.

His comments Tuesday came as the mayoral campaigning starts to get off the ground in advance of the April 2015 election. Gerard faces a growing field of contenders for his job: Council members Karen Foster and Deborah Frank Feinen and Champaign park board president Joe Petry have all said they are interested and have begun raising campaign funds.

And while job growth in Champaign might not be as pronounced as the numbers Gerard cited on Tuesday, he brought anecdotal evidence to back up his claims: Managers and owners from The Whip Hair Design, Wolfram Alpha, DS Volition and Maize restaurant all said they are growing, and they have the quality of life and support from the city of Champaign to thank for it.

"We always have more work to do. I'll be the first to say that," Gerard said. "But we've come a long way."

At 5.6 percent in April, unemployment in Champaign dipped to its lowest rate since Gerard took office in May 2011, although preliminary numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show it likely rose again last month. The April numbers Gerard cited on Tuesday painted a bit rosier picture than what the preliminary numbers for May show, but unemployment in Champaign is nonetheless trending generally downward.

Unemployment has fluctuated a bit in Champaign since June 2009 but stayed between about 7 and 10 percent for that period of time. It peaked at 10.3 percent in January 2010.

In April, it dropped below 6 percent since for the first time since 2008, but rose a bit again in May to 6.3 percent — that would match the national average but put Champaign below the statewide average of 7.5 percent.

Gerard also cited Illinois Department of Employment Security numbers which show the Champaign-Urbana metro area added 8,500 jobs since July 2011 — up to a total 109,800 nonfarm jobs today.

Those numbers may be a bit bloated, too, depending on which statistician you believe: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the metropolitan area had 105,000 total nonfarm jobs in July 2011 and 107,100 last month. Meanwhile, Champaign County added an estimated 3,816 residents from 2010 to 2013.

Craig Rost, the new executive director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, said context is important as communities across the state are looking to establish themselves as the regional job centers.

"This is what we're all about here," Rost said. "And if we're going to grow in the state of Illinois, we have to have good regional job growth, job development. And that is the entire county and beyond."

In recent comments to the media and during city council meetings, Gerard has continually returned to talking about a quarter-cent sales tax increase — which the city council approved last year and went into effect in January — as a boon for the city's economy. He went there again on Tuesday, holding it up as a catalyst to improve the quality of life in Champaign and make it a place where workers want to live.

"We've created an environment where we've hired back," Gerard said. "We have a full police staff, a full fire staff. We're not browning out a fire station. We put an extra $1 million on top of what we had hoped into our roads."

He also pointed to a developing skyline: As the city quickly adds student housing along Green Street, construction activity in Champaign is rebounding toward where it was before the housing market bust.

Job statistics

Unemployment in Champaign dipped to its lowest point in more than five years in April, but preliminary numbers show it rose again a bit in May. It is right around the national average and is beating the statewide unemployment rate.

Year Month Champaign Illinois National
2011 Apr 7.2 9.5 9.1
2011 May 7.4 9.7 9
2011 Jun 9.5 9.9 9.1
2011 Jul 9.8 10.1 9
2011 Aug 9.6 10.2 9
2011 Sep 8.9 10.1 9
2011 Oct 8.5 9.9 8.8
2011 Nov 7.7 9.7 8.6
2011 Dec 7.5 9.4 8.5
2012 Jan 8.4 9.1 8.2
2012 Feb 7.8 8.9 8.3
2012 Mar 7.2 8.8 8.2
2012 Apr 6.8 8.8 8.2
2012 May 7.1 8.9 8.2
2012 Jun 9.4 9 8.2
2012 Jul 9.5 9 8.2
2012 Aug 9.1 9 8.1
2012 Sep 7.9 9 7.8
2012 Oct 8 9 7.8
2012 Nov 7.4 9 7.8
2012 Dec 7.6 9.1 7.9
2013 Jan 8.8 9.2 7.9
2013 Feb 8.4 9.2 7.7
2013 Mar 7.3 9.2 7.5
2013 Apr 6.6 9.2 7.5
2013 May 7.2 9.2 7.5
2013 Jun 9.2 9.2 7.5
2013 Jul 9.3 9.2 7.3
2013 Aug 9.2 9.2 7.2
2013 Sep 8.1 9.1 7.2
2013 Oct 8.7 9.1 7.2
2013 Nov 8.1 9 7
2013 Dec 7.9 8.9 6.7
2014 Jan 8.1 8.7 6.6
2014 Feb 8.3 8.7 6.7
2014 Mar 7.1 8.4 6.7
2014 Apr 5.6 7.9 6.3
2014 May 6.3* 7.5* 6.3
2014 Jun n/a n/a 6.1*


SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sections (2):News, Local
Tags (1):2015 election

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
sweet caroline wrote on July 08, 2014 at 10:07 pm

What an unflattering photo.  He looks like he just woke up from a bender.  Is the best the N/G could come up with for a photo of the mayor?

Political Observer wrote on July 09, 2014 at 2:07 pm

There's a very interesting story behind that rather uncomplimentary photo of Mayor Gerard that we haven't heard anything about yet...but it's a story that really needs to be told, and it's one that really begs for an explanation.  

First, take a look at the time code in the viewer window of the videocam in the photo. The time code is in the upper, right-hand corner of its viewer window, and it reads "00:12:24:18."  The photo credit says that the photo supposedly was taken by Robin Scholtz of the News-Gazette.

[Note:  If you click on the photo, you get an enlarged version where the time code is easier to view.]

Political Observer wrote on July 09, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Now, it turns out that Eric Bussell has posted a similar picture of Mayor Gerard on a website he maintains, but Mayor Gerard is looking more to our left, rather than straight ahead.

The key thing here, though, is to once again check out the time code in the viewer window of the videocam.  Instead of the earlier value of "00:12:24:18" that we saw in Robin Scholtz's photo,  the time code in Bussell's photo reads, "00:12:24:08!"  In other words, Bussell's photo was snapped 0.10 seconds before Robin Scholtz's photo...from pretty much the same physical camera location!

Hmm!  I wonder what the explanation might possibly be for that!  Has Eric Bussell been calling up Robin Scholtz and asking to buy her outtakes, so he can have his own prints of uncomplimentary photos of Mayor Gerard...and the News-Gazette is only too happy to oblige him?

Or is it the other way around?  Has Eric Bussell been following Mayor Gerard around everywhere he goes so he can try to set up uncomplimentary photos of the Mayor, and then when he gets some very unflattering ones, he can make some money by selling some of them to his friends in the media?

Like I said at the outset, it's a story that really needs to be told, and it's one that really begs for an explanation.  


Dan Corkery wrote on July 09, 2014 at 5:07 pm
Profile Picture

Political Observer,

You have a keen eye for detail. Both pictures were taken by veteran News-Gazette photographer Robin Scholz.

If you look at Eric Bussell's website, you'll note that much of his content consists of pictures and text that link to other news organizations' stories. And most of those stories are News-Gazette stories.

I can assure you no one here is feeding any stories or pictures to Mr. Bussell. It appears he is copying and linking to our content.

Now the issue of two pictures: The one that Mr. Bussell copied was the image we used Tuesday online, when the story was live news. The image of Mayor Gerard that's now linked to Pat Wade's story is Robin Scholz's second image.

Dan Corkery

managing editor for administration

cuvoter wrote on July 09, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Maybe you should hire a new photographer. Both shots are terrible. 

cuvoter wrote on July 09, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Maybe you should hire a new photographer. Both shots are terrible. 

ericbussell wrote on July 09, 2014 at 6:07 am

While the overall economy has clearly helped the job stats of most municipalities, Champaign ranks either last or next to last in both job growth and unemployment when compared to other Big Ten cities.  Politicians will always be able to point to a new building or new business and tell you we are donig great, but we need to look at the big picture and try to understand why Champaign lagging in job creation.  It concerns me when other Big Ten communties have lower unemployment percentages AND are adding jobs faster than Champaign.   We have the potential to be a jobs leader, but we can clearly do better.  

cuvoter wrote on July 09, 2014 at 9:07 am

What is the source of this data?

spangwurfelt wrote on July 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Eric Bussell.

Political Observer wrote on July 10, 2014 at 7:07 pm

In the recent past, one of the places that Mr. Bussell has taken statistical information from on a number of occasions, without proper accrediation (naturally), is the Illinois Policy Institiute at  Let's look at an example.

Suppose you go to Bussell's website and look for places where he seems to be writing his own material for a change, instead of simply reprinting material that he took from other sources.  (You can often tell whether something is his own material by the frequent misspellings and grammatical errors that appear in his writing.)
However, when Bussell transitions to spouting off numerical data in something he's authored, that's often a good clue that he's copied and pasted the numerical information from sources he's failed to credit.

If you'd like to see this for yourself, copy and paste the following lines of text into the search inquiry box of a search engine:

"Illinois ranks 45th in GDP growth from 2000 to 2010. Illinois' unemployment was 8.7 percent for December, totaling"

The search results you obtain will show you that this originally appeared on 11-24-13 in

    1.  The real "State of the State" - Illinois Policy Institiute at
However, the search results also show that this exact same text also showed up later on Bussell's blog on 2-5-2014:

    2.  "Ammons vs. Rosenberg Debate Summary: More Different Than You Might Think"

and also on 12-24-13 on

    3.    "Erics-Blog" on Halfway Interesting

In both cases #2 and #3 above, long passages of text were taken from the earlier report by the Illinois Policy Institute (#1) and were reproduced on Bussell's website, without accreditation, and they were incorporated into text that he otherwise appeared to be writing on his own.

Political Observer wrote on July 10, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Now, this "borrowing" of long passages of text by Mr. Bussell for his own writings, and without proper accreditation of the original source, is rather "bad enough by itself," of course.

But what really makes things even more pathetic is that his source, the Illinois Policy Institute, is a right-wing think tank that receives funding from a number of de-regulation-pushing, libertarian backers, as summarized here:

and two of the major sources behind funding it are the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch Brothers, as noted here:

Ewwww!  Plagiarizing material from an organization that's funded by ALEC and the Koch Brothers??!!!

[Read on...Those 2 links have quite a few interesting things to say about the Illinois Policy Institute.]

ericbussell wrote on July 11, 2014 at 7:07 am

Speaking of the Illinois Policy Institute, I think they do a great job providing people with insight and information about our state.  I have a feed/tab on my site dedicated to their content and strongly encourage people to check them out.  

I aggregate interesting news content and link directly to news sources so the most interesting local and state political news content is easy to find.  The News-Gazette does a great job covering local politics and I link directly to many of their stories.  I hear feeback regularly from the readers of my site that they often see headlines on my site that they missed for one reason or another. 

I obviously don't invent stats.  I was using the same data source as Patrick Wade in my comments here, but should have been more clear and appreciate  that being pointed out.  I take all feedback constructively and will certainly be more diligent in pointing out stat sources going forward, both here and on my website.  I often borrow content from the Illinois Policy Institute and have no problem giving them more credit than I already do.   They've even been nice enough to help me whenever I have questions. 

I have an Accounting degree from Purdue University and I'm very proud of that fact.  I suppose I could mail order a journalism degree and some people around here might look the other way, but I don't have any interest in playing reporter.  I never imagined my little website would generate so much attention where people would actively work to discredit me.  I suppose that means it is working...

Just for clarification for all the conspiracy theorists out there, this is the disclaimer that is promintely displayed on my website:  My site does not guarantee, approve or endorse information and/or products available on linked third party sites, and does not claim the guarantee, approval or endorsement of information and/or products available on my site website by the owners/operators of third party sites.

I'm happy we were able to confirm that I am not working secretly with the News-Gazette to take unflattering pictures of Don Gerard.  :-) 

bambenek wrote on July 09, 2014 at 10:07 am

The reality is we've lost about net 5,000 jobs since Don has been mayor.

The unemployment rate factors in many different things, yes retirees could be a factor, but I suspect not. The number of people dropping out of the workforce either via stopping the search for work or getting on disability is a national trend and I suspect an issue here as well.

When talking about creating or losing jobs, the only real number that it makes sense to look at (barring large population changes) is the Employment number. As this varies throughout the calendar year, a better comparision is to look at same month from year to year (i.e. January to January) or at the annual average.

Also, while we have May's employment number, BLS typically revises months after for a final number. The last revised data is Dec 2013. So for my math I use the annual average for 2010 and compare to the annual average of 2013 of just the raw number of people working.

In 2010, it was 109,263. In 2013, it was 104,296. This uses the same dataset used at a recent press conference that includes the entire Champaign metro area but there isn't a more fine-grained break down so that's what we get.

If you go to the link below, click for employment and scroll down, you can verify my info.

Political Observer wrote on July 10, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Mr. Bambenek's post above is an interesting bit of dishonesty and deception.  Of course, that's exactly what we've all come to expect from him over the years, based on all the dirty trickster work he's done, often in partnership with Eric Bussell, and often to the benefit of his long-time friend, Gordy Hulten.

In this particlular case, he's referring to the following table of data, that I've taken from the link he provided:

Year                2010          2013
#Labor          120,199    113,623
#Empl.          109,263    104,296
#Unempl.       10,936       9,327
Unemp. Rate     9.1%      8.2%

In an exercise of deception and misdirection, he calls our attention to the data in the third row of this table, where the total number of persons employed in the Civilian Labor Force in our metropolitan area has declined from 109,263 in 2010 to 104,296 in 2013.  Subtracting the latter number from the former, he finds a decrease in the total number of persons employed of

109,263 - 104,296  = 4,967

WOW!  That number is the only thing we need to pay attention to!  Bambenek's next step was then to send out a Twitter message on 7-9-14 that read:

"Here is an interesting fact. Champaign are [sic] has actually lost 5,000 net jobs since 12/31/2010."

Now, what he doesn't want you to notice is that the number of unemployed individuals has decreased over the same period of time from 10,936 to 9,327, which is a decrease of 1,639 individuals.  He also doesn't want you to notice the last row of the table, which shows that the unemployment rate has decreased from 9.1% to 8.2%.  And, of course, we're also not supposed to notice the second row of the table, which shows that the number of individuals in the labor force decreased from 120,199 to 113,623 during that period of time, a decrease of 6,576 individuals.  (Please pay no attention to these other rows of the table!  The only thing that matters is that difference between those 2 numbers in the third row!)

Apparently, Bambenek thinks all of those 6,576 individuals who are no longer in the labor force are people who are still in the area and still want to work, but they're unable to find employment because it's all Don Gerard's fault!  He discounts retirements (he "suspects not," he writes in his post)...Oh, yes, I'm sure that not many people have retired during that period of time! (Har, Har!)

While he does note that the data are for a much wider metropolitan area than just Champaign alone (because the 120,199 individuals in the work force in 2010 is obviously way, way more than the total number of people in the City of Champaign!), he says that, well,  that's just the way the data are made available in reports, so what can you do about it?  [So tough luck, Mr. Mayor, it's still all your fault!] 

Apparently Bambenek has also forgotten about all the people that left the area in search of other places where housing's less expensive, in the wake of the collapse of the housing market, and all the following foreclosures.

The irony in all this is that Bambenek and his friend Bussell have for years advocated for an unregulated, libertarian free market economy where the ultra-wealthy can basically do whatever they want to do, the very kind of situation that produced the housing market collapse we experienced  in 2008, that in turn led to the Great Recession, that gave us these numbers.  Moreover, Bambenek is also a national tea party figure who was thrilled when his tea party Republicans took office after the elections of 2010, and used their new Republican House Majority to curtail government spending in an attempt to cause a so-called Double Dip Recession, just like Republicans "successfully" did back during the Great Depression, where they unltimately lengthened its duration and brought much more financial hardship to the country.

EdRyan wrote on July 09, 2014 at 11:07 am

The Mayor of Champaign has about as much to do with creating jobs as the rest of the council.

The big challenge, which is important to the entire region, is how do we better capture the economic benefit of having the UIUC campus?

cuvoter wrote on July 09, 2014 at 12:07 pm

True but it is his job to point out the good work the council and city staff are doing. So many malcontents in this area want to say we're doing worse than other communities. Given what we have and don't have, we're doing pretty well. That being said, it doesn't appear that any other members of council were there, which makes it seem like a campaign event. 

Local Yocal wrote on July 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm
Profile Picture

It must be understood that what passes for economic development in Champaign might look pretty and look good to a politician who sits atop growing tax revenues to spend, but it does NOT benefit the local residents who live here, send their kids to school here, and pay the property and sales taxes here (taxes Gerard and council forfeit to new companies moving here.) Most of the $900 million dollars of economic development for the last 20 years is for the benefit of out-of-town U of I students, out-of-town corporations, out-of-town management firms, and out-of-town contractors. We have been a town to exploit, not a town to invest in. A wealthy international U of I student has more rights and opportunities than a person born and raised here. 

The formula is mostly the same: selling a sports ticket to tourists and students who can afford luxury hotels and luxury apartments with a side order of alcohol and food. Research Park has yet to produce a product that creates a manufacturing industry that employs hundreds, and instead it's been these small, little gadgetries that employ a few U of I grads. 

When you look at the paltry numbers of local high school graduates enrolling and graduating from college, the economic question of the hour is what will those with only a high school education do for work?

Lorrie Pearson, the land development manager for the City's Planning Division, expressed the City staff's vision for economic growth to Daily Illini reporter Earn Seanmuk where she envisioned  "more construction jobs" [for who?] and a future generation of busboys, dishwashers, waiters, bartenders, line cooks, and sales associate jobs. These jobs cannot afford homes, cars, or discretionary spending at other businesses. The idea that jobs are being created by the out-of-town corporations should be qualified with "minimum-wage, part-time, with no benefits" jobs are being created.

Meanwhile, food pantry requests, welfare payments, reduced lunch vouchers at schools, waiting lists for Section 8 vouchers, the homeless, the unemployed, and yes, stealin', druggin', drinkin', and fistfightin' continue to rise.   

So it's understandable that city planners would prefer to cater to U of I grads and attempt to lure their citizenship to stay. In the 20 years of romancing the Creative Class, Champaign's population has remained the same. Professionals are not that attracted to a place where there is no lake, no mountains, no forests, and jobs are very few. 

Petry offers the new Med School, Gerard offers a new minor league Baseball Stadium. Most politicians gamble on gambling itself and alcohol sales.  The media and the public must hold the contenders and incumbent-Gerard to the fire over the course of the next year: how are the 8000 currently unemployed going to find work at what? and what is local government's role in a meaningful solution toward increasing the number of good-paying jobs for LOCAL residents?

So far, the local political will has been to gentrify existing poor neighborhoods, shove the poor to the outlying areas, and jail everybody for every little thing. The result is the Bristol Park demolition, Section 8 voucher discrimination ordinance, the HUD-Turnberry proposal and the proposal to build a $23 million dollar addition to the county jail so as to accommodate the alarming prosecutions for incorrect driving papers, DUI, and drugs.    

Without a willingness to go into deficit spending, the government's taxes are already spoken for. The unions, the roads, the number of employees and equipment required to keep the roads smooth for rolling tires, put out fires and take people to jail for drugs, driving violations, and failure to pay city ordinance violations leaves little for the City of Champaign to invest in local enterprise and innovation.  How a Champaign Mayor is going to create jobs is a fascinating debate in near-futility. 


JimmyB wrote on July 09, 2014 at 1:07 pm


Champaign mayor Don Gerard and Rantoul mayor Chuck Smith are a lot alike in many ways.

I wonder how often they have to seek medical attention for their broken arms from patting themselves on the back as hard as they do.

ericbussell wrote on July 09, 2014 at 2:07 pm

CUVoter, I reviewed the "Economy at a Glance" summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and compared each Big Ten community (except Evanston, which I could not find).   You can easily compare the unemployment rate and 12-month job growth figures.   

mrseeu2 wrote on July 09, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Say what you will about the Mayor, but the facts are the facts.  Unemployment is down, the city is growing, the skyline of the city is developing, the old hotel at the entrance of the city is gone, new develpment is everywhere in the city.  Champaign is fast becoming the hub of Central Illinois.  Mayor Gerard, you have my vote.  Keep up the good work.

C-U Townie wrote on July 09, 2014 at 7:07 pm

At least we can rest easy on the fact that the mayor has little power in this community. He and the rest of the council make fruity decisions about our commmunity and call themselves change-makers. Citizens playing politicians. Kind of like Gerard is a kid playing adult. Although he hasn't quite checked his juvenile habits. 

Just think he was the lesser of two evils. 

ericbussell wrote on July 10, 2014 at 7:07 am

Our community has the potential to be the #1 best place to live and work in America.  We are not going to get there with the simple and typical anecdotal evidence of only pointing at growing businesses and new construction, especially while the national economy has improved significantly.   The competition to lure job providers and job seekers is fierce.  When we compare our economy to other Big Ten economies, we are at the back of the pack.  Are we competing against Danville, Decatur, and Rockford, or are we competing against Purdue, Indiana, and Michigan?  We are exceptional and there nothing exceptional about a Mayor's economic development message that any grade school cheerleader can execute.  If economic development becomes a focus of the mayoral race, I hope the candidates can all agree that we should be competitive among the other cities in the Big Ten conference...and maybe even get to a point where we can be in contention for a national title.   

Political Observer wrote on July 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm

It's always a great source of comedy to read the writings of a guy, like Mr. Bussell, who  (according to one of his recent blog posts)  apparently wears a chicken suit whenever he posts!  I guess that's one way to try to get your economic message out that, "The Sky Is Falling!  The Sky is Falling! that your readers start to picture you as running around like a chicken with its head cut off! (Say, have you ever thought about renaming your blog podcasts, "Henny Penny For Your Thoughts?")
Any way, here's a link you may enjoy:

It's a Don Dodson article that has a similar ranking of economic statistics for Big Ten cities.  The only difference is that it was written in April of 2011...

Political Observer wrote on July 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I do especially like, though, how Mr. Bussell writes,

 "We are exceptional and there nothing exceptional about a Mayor's economic development message that any grade school cheerleader can execute.  If economic development becomes a focus of the mayoral race, I hope the candidates can all agree that we should be competitive among the other cities in the Big Ten conference...and maybe even get to a point where we can be in contention for a national title."

Let's first of all point out that Mr. Bussell, and Mr. Bambenek as well, are both working on the Deb Frank Feinen team, as you might have guessed from Mr. Bussell's reference to having a message that "any grade school cheerleader can execute!"

It's also interesting that he wants us to not only win the Big Ten in economic competition, but also to go on to win a "National Title" as well!

Heck, if we're going to do that, we're going to need a good mascot to lead us in our cheers, too!  RIGHT?...

How about the "UI Prairie Chickens"?! 

Or maybe the "Broilermakers?!"

Whatever we end up deciding, we can't go wrong when our fearless leader is a Philo Township Board of Trustees Member...dressed in a Chicken Suit!

"B-U-S!!"..."S-E-Double L!!"

"B-U-S!!"..."S-E-Double L!!"

"Get on the BUS!"...and "Don't SELL us short!"


bambenek wrote on July 11, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I wasn't the one who brought up "creating jobs" nor was I the one that said the Mayor was the main (or significant) factor.  He did.  In fact, it was Don Gerard's sign that says "Creating Jobs in the City of Champaign" unless you secretly think I work for the News-Gazette to and I managed to flyer the podium before this event.

I merely pointed there was a approximate net loss of 5000 people working which spoke to the exact point he made.

If you take a look here ( you will see Champaign County has grown.  Here shows growth of the City of Chapmaign ( Now BLS uses the Champaign MSA for population and I'm pointing to census for the county so it isn't quite an apples to oranges comparision but it's not an equal foot print.  The population is growing, not shrinking so your thoughts that it had to do with escaping the high cost of real estate in Champaign simply don't apply.  We have more people in 2013 than we did in 2010.

Now if you look here ( you can see a slight increase in our median age (25 to 26) so some of that is based on retirement by not nearly anywhere close to 5,000.

I made no attempt to explain it, just to merely say if the mayor wants to talk about being responsible for creating jobs, he should explain why Champaign has, in fact, 5000 less people working since he became mayor.


Politicalchemy wrote on July 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I'm looking at the same Economy at a Glance data as Bambenek, Bussell, etc.  Even though Bambenek has incorrectly and repeatedly quoted MSA data instead of data for Champaign itself, the numbers he apparently sees are very different than the most recent data I'm reviewing. This data would show the citizen labor force for the Champaign-Urbana MSA at 114,700 in May 2013; 115,800 in December 2013; and 117.2 in May 2014. Here is the link.

Politicalchemy wrote on July 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I also pointed out to Mr. Bussell on another thread that those Big Ten communities with which he claims we are competing are, on average, performing poorly in terms of unemployment and job growth compared to their respective states. This is not the case for the C-U MSA.

ericbussell wrote on July 12, 2014 at 7:07 am

I think it is a very good and valid observation to point out that the economic performance of the state most likely has a negative impact on our local economy.  I'm not sure I follow Bambenek's numbers, but I am simply using the same economic numbers that were referenced in Patrick Wade's article.  I feel strongly that we should be comparing ourselves to our competition, but if there are indicators that show we performing as good or better, we should probably be talking about those instead.

Another commenter brought up my Purdue degree.  I think our economic message needs to be focused on why job providers should choose Champaign vs. Lafayette.  It is maddening when politicians simply point and a new building or business and compare job stats relative to the height of the recession.   I'm sure there's an exception here or there, but isn't every mayor in every Big Ten town saying the exact the same thing?   We are exceptional while the economic message is exceptionally average.  That needs to change.


cjwinla wrote on July 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Development projects take advantage of pre 2011 existing City policy that provides incentives, so whomever is Mayor it is pretty much like waiting at the cashier window and handing out the cash as prescribed by City staff. No real talent needed for that. This Mayor talks about bringing Champaign together. Specfics as to how he has done that as Mayor  is needed because there is a track record of the exact opposite with many stakeholders in the community.  

The one public policy initiative I can see from Gerard is the Summer Youth Employmnt program. An outstanding program, one of the best in the State. That initiative came in his fist three months. Can he point to any City initiative that were originated by him since that time?  

The Mayor of Champaign role is a vote on Council, appointments to boards and Liquor  Commissioner. The best Mayors are those who can articulate and implement policy initiatives fairly and effectively. The rest is window dressing no matter how bad the picture in the frame may be.