C. Mark Williams has over 30 years of experience in the profession of economic development; as a manager, director and executive director; at the regional public/private and local municipal level; and in rural and urban communities. Mark began his work with the Partnership on May 11, 2020. Prior to the Partnership, Mark led the City of Rockford’s Economic Development Division for the past seven years. He also served as executive director for Growth Dimensions for Belvidere-Boone County for over 11 years, where he led the 501 C(6) public/private economic development corporation and prior to that served as the Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Salem.
Mark has extensive experience in economic development including entrepreneur development, business retention/expansion program management, marketing, lead generation and prospect development, incentive and deal structuring negotiations, downtown redevelopment, enterprise zone administration and tax-increment financing.
Mark is highly effective at building relationships within region and statewide organizations, having chaired the Illinois Development Council and the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association and currently serves on the Board of the Illinois Economic Development Association. Mark is a past recipient of the Illinois Development Council’s Distinguished Economic Developer of the Year Award in 2012.
Tess Dahm is the Director of Administrative Services for the Greater Freeport Partnership. She is a seasoned economic development professional who has been employed with the organization for the past 24 years and held her managing real estate broker’s license for 38 years. She is a lifelong resident of Freeport where she and her husband have raised their 2 children.
As the Director of Administrative Services, she assists the Executive Director in management of the Corporation’s Board of Directors, committee, membership and strategic allies and establishes a smooth functioning office noted for its excellent customer service, operating efficiency, professional image, product quality and high-quality prospect responses and client research. She is on the front line dealing with prospects and vendors and is empowered to act independently.
Bill Clow is the Business Engagement Director for the Greater Freeport Partnership. Bill has had a long and varied career, including involvement in 4 different chambers, working in healthcare, education and consulting, and the running of two radio stations, including one of which he helped to start. Bill enjoys working with local businesses, learning of their stories and helping them overcome challenges. He is happy to be a resident of Freeport and Stephenson County.
Bill lives near downtown in Freeport with Sarah and, except for a three year stint in northern Wisconsin, lived his adult life in northern and central Illinois. Before his adventure in the Northwoods, Bill lived for 20 years in Woodstock, IL. Bill has a BS in Communications and an MBA from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He has two adult children, who live on opposite coasts, giving him good vacation options. Bill is always anxious to get his kayak wet in some of the rivers and streams of northwest Illinois. In the meantime, he will mark time sampling all of the great food and drink and meeting the interesting people of Stephenson County!
Katie Gentz is the Event Coordinator for Greater Freeport Partnership. She manages volunteer resources and exectution of the Partnership’s signature Downtown Freeport events.
Katie has over eight years experience with event planning. She worked on many of the events in Freeport when she was with Freeport Downtown Development Foundation. Katie has been married to her husband Aaron for over 15 years and they have 2 children, and have lived in the Freeport area for over 16 years together. In Katie’s free time she loves to spend time with her husband and kids. They enjoy going camping.
Billy George is the Administrative Coordinator at the Greater Freeport Partnership. He holds an A.S. in Digital Media from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. From there he moved back to the Midwest because he missed the winters. Freeport is lucky to have him back in the area, first working for his family’s business, Bill George Plumbing and Heating, and now at the Partnership.
In his free time, Billy can be found checking out the awesome food that Stephenson County restaurants have to offer.
Andrea Schultz Winter is the Development Director for the Greater Freeport Partnership. Andrea works on economic development efforts for the Partnership, including downtown Freeport beautification efforts, data analysis, business support regarding financial incentives and loan programs, and employer workforce development support. Andrea has a wide range of experience–from working on complex architecture and construction projects to urban and regional planning developments. Andrea started her professional career in the Pacific Northwest where she gained an understanding and appreciation for ‘green’ design and best practices. More recently, Andrea has worked with a local architecture, construction, and development firm where she led local urban planning efforts. Andrea attended the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she received her Bachelors of Architecture, Masters of Architecture and Masters of Urban and Regional Planning. Freeport has been Andrea’s adopted hometown for the past 10 years. She loves being back in the Midwest and closer to family. Andrea and her husband have three energetic children. She values the Freeport community and volunteers her time sitting on multiple non-profit boards.
Nicole Haas is the Brand Director for the Greater Freeport Partnership. She is charged with telling the story of the beauty and innovation of Freeport and Stephenson County to attract visitors, employees and residents to the region. She also helps to curate visitor and community information at the Stephenson County Visitors Center on US Highway 20 to draw visitors into the county and showcase all of its amenities.
Nicole grew up in Pearl City and received her degree in communications and public relations from Western Illinois University. She worked as general manager for Erickson Publishing in Madison, WI before returning to the area to work in non-profit development and fundraising for several local agencies. Before becoming part of the Partnership’s team, she was the executive director of the Illinois Association of Groundwater Association. Nicole serves on several boards in the area and volunteers her time regularly in a variety of professional capacities. She resides on a farm in rural Stockton with her husband and two sons.
Visitor Center Hosts
Visitors to the Freeport/Stephenson County Visitor Center are greeted by these lovely faces when they enter the building. Karen Brillhart, Beth McWhirter, Vicki Shadle and Erin Stewart are tremendous resources for all Stephenson County event and attraction inquiries. Whether you are just passing through and looking for information on the area or seeking specific help for an attraction or location, these ladies go to great lengths to help you find what you need as you make your way to your destination.