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Wanted: EDC members so body survives, thrives

 

September 12, 2019 | View PDF



Trustees are throwing the Hinsdale Economic Development Commission a lifeline.

The village board Tuesday is expected to approve changes designed to boost the commission’s membership, making it easier to find members and setting a more convenient time for them to meet. Eight meetings already have been canceled this year due to lack of a quorum — and it’s only September. Multiple meetings have been canceled each year since 2015 for the same reason.

When trustees discussed the proposed changes last week, they questioned whether there is a need for one village to have both an EDC and a chamber of commerce.

We believe there is.

The two groups certainly have worked closely together over the past several years and have related missions, but each has developed its own focus.

The Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce plans and organizes a jam-packed list of promotional events and civic activities throughout the year: the Fine Arts Festival, Uniquely Thursdays, the farmers market, the sidewalk sale, the merchants garage sale and the Christmas Walk. The chamber also works other agencies in town to host the Hinsdale Fall Festival and is partnering with the village to offer a Hinsdale Wine Walk next month.

In addition, the chamber holds quarterly meetings for members, mails welcome packets to new residents and publishes a community directory.

In contrast, the EDC’s focus has been more on initiatives than events.

The group was created to help expand the tax base, maintain the charm and unique character of the village, encourage a healthy business mix, enhance the quality of life and conduct longterm strategic planning, according to the village’s website.

While those assignments can be fulfilled in part through cooperative efforts with the chamber, we believe a stand-alone EDC still has merit.

Just consider what the EDC has accomplished working with the village’s economic development staff member: new signs for the central business district highlighting its status on the National Register of Historic Places, a attractive stone wall in Burlington Park, and, in its longest running and most visible effort, the Distinctly Hinsdale campaign. That initiative was launched in 2007 to encourage local residents to support local businesses and to appeal to propective proprietors outside Hinsdale through advertising, a website and other promotional endeavors.

Distinctly Hinsdale for the Holidays took place in December of that first year, and has continued ever since (now known as Historic Holidays in Hinsdale). Holiday festivities in Burlington Park provide an excellent incentive for residents to visit the downtown and shop local on two consecutive Saturdays each December.

Expecting one agency to plan and execute everything the chamber and the EDC do seems ambitious at best. EDC members also weigh in on how the village should spend $90,000 a year in marketing funds and $60,000 in capital expenses. It is only prudent to have local residents — who help supply those tax dollars — serve on a commission that meets in public to help decide how those dollars are spent.

Looking ahead, the near-term addition of a downtown parking deck and eventual loss of the Hinsdale Oasis overpass to 1-294 widening present profound opportunities and challenges to the economic landscape, warranting more thoughtful minds, not fewer.

We support the changes village staff have recommended to create a more vibrant EDC. We hope residents and members of the business community will recognize this opportunity to serve — and to keep an important advisory body in the village alive.

 
 

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