Survey to Focus State Economic Plan

Article excerpt

Local businesses may receive a survey this week aimed to chart a course for the future of Illinois' economy.

The surveys, asking recipients about the economic strengths and weaknesses of the area, will be used to form a statewide strategic plan based on guidelines established by state legislators. About 40,000 surveys have been mailed statewide.

Gov. George Ryan believes that effective economic development begins at the local level, said economist John Lewis, who is managing the project.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs is using several state universities to coordinate the strategic planning process.

The Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University is overseeing the overall procedure.

Northern designed and will help analyze the surveys, which are meant to reveal business people's opinions about the state's transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, the effectiveness and availability of work force development programs, access to capital and whether the state encourages entrepreneurship, said Lewis, who serves as assistant director of the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern.

Northern and three other universities are distributing the studies. NIU is responsible for gathering information from McHenry, Kane, Kendall and Grundy counties. The University of Illinois- Chicago is handling Lake, Cook, DuPage, Will and Kankakee counties while the University of Illinois-Springfield and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville are handling the downstate areas. …