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Economic Development Commission One of Oswego's 'Most Important'

Jul 15, 2015 02:55PM ● Published by Steven Jack

Vijay Gadde, economic development director, addresses the village's newly formed Economic Development Commission. Also pictured is the President and CEO of the Oswego Chamber of Commerce Angie Hibben.

Shortly after being sworn in as Oswego’s new village president in May, Gail Johnson proclaimed the village is “open for business.”

Johnson set that statement in motion this week with the first meeting of the village’s newly formed Economic Development Commission — a panel of local business leaders that will advise the Village Board on a of variety of issues, including commercial, industrial, retail and residential development.

“This commission will be one of the most important commissions this village has,” Johnson told commission members at Tuesday night’s first meeting. “… I truly look forward to seeing the amazing things you’re going to do for us.” 

Johnson said each member was chosen based on their expertise in business in the village and the region. The commission, which will meet once per month, is made up of the following members:

  • Dave Behrens (Resident and Owner of The Village Grind)
  • Terry Anderson (Resident and Realtor with John Greene)
  • Kristen Sanders (Resident and former Vice President at Castle Bank)
  • Brenda Van Wyhe (VP of Finance and CFO of Rush-Copley Medical Center)
  • Matt Garland (Resident and Commercial Real Estate Broker)
  • Jeff Downs (Resident and Senior Vice President at Old Second Bank)
  • Lisa Wentzell (Resident and Director of Marketing with the Downers Grove Economic Development Corp.)

After their opening meeting this week, the commission will get to work reviewing the village’s 2015 comprehensive plan and applications for the village’s facade improvement and low-interest revolving loan programs. 

Vijay Gadde, the commission’s facilitator and village’s economic development director, said there is currently a lot of interest in the loan program. Johnson said the village may need to come up with more funding or a micro-loan program to keep pace with the number of applicants. 

The last business to take advantage of the state-funded revolving loan program was Oswego Cyclery, which received $150,000 to help complete its renovation of the Old Fire Barn on Main Street. 

Commissioners will also tackle aspects of the 2015 village comprehensive plan, which will be up for approval by the Village Board in the coming weeks. The plan lays out a future vision for the community with an emphasis on plans for the downtown. 

“The opportunities for downtown development are significant,” Carrie Hansen, the village’s interim administrator, told commissioners. “Realizing the potential is something that we really strongly believe this commission can help with. The comprehensive plan has eight action plans for the downtown and we’ll start shipping those your way.”

To view a copy of the village’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan, click here.

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