At the end of each December we here at Hancock County Economic Development like to take a look back at the year and show you how much growth has happened. Previously, this has been done with a physical newsletter but this year we're trying something new by putting our report here. Please take a few minutes to read the information below and join us in marveling at all of the amazing things that Hancock County has done in just a year, month by month!
In January HCED joined with an amazing group of organizations in our Broadband Breakthrough program to help gather data and have a better understanding of how Hancock County rates in keeping us connected. The information gathered is already helping ISP's (Internet Service Providers) apply for more grant funding. It's not a fast process but we won't stop until we complete our mission of 'Better broadband for all of Hancock County."
In February I worked with our members Carl Sandburg Community College to offer 3 classes on marketing and web design. HCED gave away 5 scholarships to the full series using a grant offered to us by the Hancock County CEO class of 2023.
March started our new social media campaign helping highlight our Governmental Community Members starting with Warsaw. They were celebrating bringing back the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce after taking a 30+ year hiatus. I was able to work with a small but determined group of business owners to help them reorganize and gain their not for profit status. Since then they have started the Warsaw Farmers Market, had a Fall In Love With Warsaw decorating contest, executed an amazing Christmas on Main event, and now have 25+ members!
In April I spent time helping CEO students prepare for their tradeshow (the first Tuesday each May), courting new members (3 new this cycle), planning HCED's 10 year anniversary After Hour's party (June 26, 2023), and helping wrap up our Broadband Breakthrough program report.
May was Hamilton's month to be highlighted. They started their Summer Fest Series, partnered with KEY (a county wide health initiative group) to bring a free pool day to their community as well as mileage signs for 2 popular walking/running paths, had the 2nd annual Market on Broadway, the 5th annual Santa Clause Bike Ride, and a BEAUTIFUL new display of Christmas lights in the city park.
Additionally, our very own Memorial Hospital was recognized as the Outstanding Rural Health Organization of the Nation for the year 2023 by the National Rural Health Association on May 10, 2023. They've also received another 5 star rating this year... pretty amazing for a rural hospital and clinic group.
June brought us to the community of La Harpe who's 4th of July Celebration was being feverishly planned, the Park District was in full swing with their new walking path (highlighted by KEY later on with their Glow Walk), swimming pool, and ball fields. That is, until the Derecho happened in late June. Communities all over Hancock County and beyond were devastated. Our County Emergency Management team along with so many wonderful groups worked to help all of the communities, businesses, and residents effected and get them the relief they needed.
In July we highlighted Dallas City; Carthage, La Harpe (despite the damage), and Nauvoo had 4th of July Celebrations and fireworks that would rival any "big city". The weekend after Warsaw celebrated their 2nd annual Freedom Fest and Hamilton had the 2nd of their Summerfest events. The final week of July was the famous Dallas City Days (3rd weekend in July each year).
August brought Carthage's month for social media highlights and boy was it a busy one! We posted almost every day just to get in all of our Carthage members, all of the events coming to and the many many things to do in the community. Additionally, I went to the IIRA's Community Development Institute to further my education in Community & Economic Development.
September is potentially the busiest month for HCED and I. We have our Annual Meeting at the end of the month and prepping for that meeting is a pile of work in itself. We also rounded out our community highlights with Nauvoo. Showcasing the events they have each year, highlighting members, and featuring the many amazing things to do for tourists and locals alike.
In October we made sure to highlight our members that are outside of the governmental member communities or outside of Hancock County itself. This is also the month that we kick off all of the holiday events that we have to offer here in the county (so so many). I was asked to come to speak to IW High School co-op students about what's next after their senior year. We started planning The Taste of Hancock County, a festival dedicated to showing everything Hancock County has to offer, especially the food & drinks!
November & December have continued the holiday festivities all over the county. I slow down with my business visits due to the additional activities and the amount of planning running an economic development organization takes. Now, I'm catching up on updating the website and Community Calendar (a free, county-wide way to let everyone know what is going on throughout the county), planning the social media and traditional marketing for the next year, working on The Taste of Hancock County, planning job and career fairs, furthering my development education, and SO much more.
I want to thank everyone in Hancock County for helping make 2023 an amazing year for growth and development. We couldn't do it without the businesses, communities, leaders, workers, residents, and participants. I feel confident that 2024 will bring even more of the same.
Happy New Year to all and in 2024 LET'S GROW TOGETHER!!