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TMCNet:  New economic development chief sets sights on budget balancing [The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill. :: ]

[July 10, 2014]

New economic development chief sets sights on budget balancing [The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill. :: ]

(News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana, IL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 10--CHAMPAIGN _ The new executive director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corp. said he is determined that the group has a break-even budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.


On Wednesday, the group's board of directors approved a core budget of $468,000 that calls for a steep increase in private-sector giving and a leaner staff.

Craig Rost, who assumed the executive director post May 1, said he aims to raise $140,000 in private investment, up from $75,000 the previous year, and is "confident" he can accomplish that. He also said he eliminated the office manager position, with those duties to be handled by remaining staff.

The bulk of the group's budget, $265,000, is covered by public-sector contributions, with the two largest contributors being the city of Champaign ($115,815) and the University of Illinois ($75,000). Urbana, a distant third, is projected to contribute $19,175 this year.

Aside from the private-sector and public-sector contributions, the group also gets about $30,000 from programs such as Innovation Celebration and the group's annual meeting, plus another $30,000 from the Urbana Champaign Angel Network.

The core budget does not include revenues and expenses associated with the group's Small Business Development Center. Rost said he is negotiating with the state to include more of the group's staff costs as part of its local match for the SBDC grant.

Board member Jill Guth said the economic development group should increase its budget for advertising and promotion, currently set at $1,000. The board agreed to consider adjusting that line item once a new marketing plan is in place.

Deputy director Erik Kotewa said Easton-Bell Sports in Rantoul _ which recently changed its name to BRG Sports _ will host a roundtable in late July or early August for Rantoul companies and other manufacturing and distribution firms in Champaign County.

Separate roundtables are being planned for companies in the biotechnology and information technology fields, he said.

Kotewa noted that Deep Silver Volition _ the host for Wednesday's meeting _ is part of the software publishing sector, which employs about 600 people in Champaign County. Deep Silver Volition itself has 198 full-time employees and 22 temporary employees.

Lori Gold Patterson will continue to serve as chairwoman of the economic development group's board of directors for the 2014 fiscal year, which runs through next June. Other officers include: Ron Smith of Illinois American Water, vice chairman; Steve Tock of Hickory Point Bank & Trust, treasurer; and Mike Billimack of Carle, assistant treasurer.

___ (c)2014 The News-Gazette (Champaign, Ill.) Visit The News-Gazette (Champaign, Ill.) at www.news-gazette.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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