LINCOLN — As interim executive director of the Logan County Development Partnership, Bill Thomas adheres to the adage that "slow and steady wins the race."
"Economic development can mean different things to different people," he said. "It can take different forms and be measured in different ways. Sometimes it involves big new industrial or business projects, but more often than not, it involves detailed work, extensive research and network building, designed to create a foundation for long-term success."
The goal of the partnership is to enhance, expand and create a viable economy and quality of life for Logan County businesses and communities. Thomas released the partnership's annual report last week, reviewing accomplishments of 2014 and setting goals for the coming year.
"The highlight of 2014 was what we accomplished with workforce development," he told The Pantagraph. "We put a number of people back into the workforce and met the needs of local manufacturers."
Looking ahead, Thomas said, the partnership has identified opportunities to build on the grass-roots efforts started in 2014 and initiate others.
"In particular, we will focus on building on the success of the workforce training program put into place as a result of the partnership created between our office, Heartland Community College, the Land of Lincoln Workforce Alliance and the Accelerated Training in Manufacturing program," he said.
Working together to build a stronger partnership will be a priority, Thomas said.
"There is that old saying about how 'It is better to teach a person to fish, rather than give him a fish,'" he said. "We'd like to help communities throughout the county consider creating economic development commissions established via the passage of a local ordinance. When like-minded folks join together to work on behalf of their own communities, the results are often much better than when a centralized organization tries to step in."
Also, Thomas said, the partnership will work to expand its involvement with the five-county Economic Development District that includes Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford and Mason counties.