We recognize that business opportunities are often born out of crisis. We know that consumers may shift their habits and patterns but at the same time will always need to access goods and services. It is the leadership and collaborative structure of the Greater Freeport Partnership that puts the Freeport region in the best position to connect the opportunities to businesses.
The Partnership presents an innovative approach to economic development, business networking and tourism promotion as the product of merging four organizations: the Northwest Illinois Development Alliance, the Freeport Area Chamber of Commerce, the Stephenson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Freeport Downtown Development Foundation. The merger was completed in 2018. The Partnership is the place where organizations and people unite to advocate for the region, drive economic growth and champion a talented, workforce ready community.
A lot of other regions and counties are striving for the collaboration that we as the Partnership have enacted and been practicing for the last two years. This push toward a merged model is even harder due to the impact on the COVID-19 crisis. As business and government agencies in other regions begin to realize the constraints on revenue and look for areas to cut costs, the established public/private partnership in the Freeport region has already created leverage in our merged operations.
As a result of this merger, we speak with a stronger, unified voice on behalf of the community; Our goals are aligned to strengthen the benefits to business and community; We are making it easy for business leaders, site selectors, decision makers to know who to call for assistance; We have a greater alignment of volunteer hours, activities and events; We have a greater focus and impact on local, state and federal government affairs and advocacy; We are best at storytelling for all audiences. The Partnership, as it is formed, is in the best position to align government, nonprofit and educational efforts into a cohesive plan of measurable programs and services that address current and future workforce needs.
I have found after my first week as Executive Director, the Partnership’s staff is extremely talented, collaborative, focused and creative. We have shown the ability to be flexible and nimble which allows us to move quickly in response to our ever-changing business climate. The COVID-19 Executive Order has required us to pivot to new operational procedures and shift work duties to areas of need.
While it is common to think of a local tourism agency as just attracting visitors from outside the region to your area, the overall intention is to create the best story of our community for all audiences. Promoting the Freeport region isn’t specific to one audience. Our story resonates and builds interest to those who want to live here, bring their business here, enjoy a weekend and encourages pride for those who already call Stephenson County home. The Partnership model uses our best resources in promotion to advocate for the story of the area during this time of recovery.
The leadership and the member organizations that make up the Greater Freeport Partnership truly give the spirit and strength to the Partnership. One message I received that rings clear to me and gives me motivation – We have a lot of supporting organizations and companies and they ask for, and expect nothing, except maybe a mechanism to allow their talented people to engage in making this a better place. We at the Partnership are accountable to making the Greater Freeport region a better place!