The American flag remains but the BRP flags have been removed, a handful of cars are parked in the lot and FREDCO reports there is interest in the building.
William Dill, Franklin Regional Economic Development Corporation executive director, said he is waiting to hear from Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc., officials about what will happen with the building. The company closed its Benton site, located in the Industrial Park, last year.
“There is interest outside the county and state,” Dill said. “We are still waiting for them to decide what they are going to do with the building. We can’t pursue the interest until we know.”
Dill reported a good turnout for the Jan. 24 meeting, held in the Christopher Civic Center.
“We had 21 mayors and county board members in attendance plus two guests who made presentations,” he said. “Mike Phalin, vice president of sales and marketing for Clearwave Communications, provided an update on the fiber optic project.”
Phalin said Clearwave Communications has been working to develop rural broadband service since August 2010. He said the company is one of a handful that received grant funding.
“With the help of state and federal grants and private funding, we are building the much needed middle-mile infrastructure to make broadband accessible in the rural areas of southern Illinois,” Phalin said. “We will be connecting colleges, K-12 schools, libraries, health care providers and public safety entities.
By August 2013, the Illinois Broadband Opportunity Partnership-Southern will have laid more than 740 miles of fiber optic cable through 23 counties, and connected 232 community anchor institutions to the next generation network, he said.
Dill said FREDCO has discussed identifying infrastructure in the county’s industrial parks. “Mike Phalin said the project is ahead of schedule,” he said. “We are working to stay ahead of the game. In order to attract business and industry, high speed internet service is a must.”
William Stanhouse, manager of the southern region office of Regional Economic Development for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, also made a presentation to the officials.
Dill said DCEO provides services to FREDCO.
“When a large entity is looking for a building site, DCEO emails us the criteria,” he said. “The latest project is a steel producer who is looking for a minimum of 250 acres and barge access for river transport. William Stanhouse will start a mapping project to list the assets the county has.
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“We are looking to market the county,” Dill said. “DCEO is spearheading to develop an economic development guide for the state. We are running an advertisement in the guide that highlights the county’s assets including four industrial parks, two enterprise zones, and six Tax Increment Finance districts. DCEO will be marketing the state both nationally and internationally.”
He said DCEO is also redoing a website magazine that is available online. “We hope for more exposure to business and industry this way,” Dill said.
He said FREDCO still has money to lend to budding entrepreneurs or existing businesses. “We are working with banks,” Dill said. “I have listened to a few people who have good ideas but no capital to back up their idea. We are looking to loan money to companies wanting to start or expand their business.”
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