PONTIAC - Pontiac city officials are looking into what they can do to be more attractive to businesses wanting to relocate.
Despite creating an industrial park and offering the land to companies for free, the city hasn't seen the influx of businesses that officials had hoped for.
The City Council has started monthly work sessions to discuss economic development efforts ranging from marketing the industrial park to landscaping along major routes into town. The meetings are for all members of the council, but votes will not be taken.
Their first focus will be on industry, commercial properties and housing. By December, they hope to have a clearer plan.
Alderman John McGlasson said the city's idea to promote the industrial park seemed good, but just hasn't worked. He said he has contacted a real estate broker about how the land can be promoted.
McGlasson said one reason for the lack of interest is that real estate agents wouldn't gain much under the current arrangement, so they haven't been pushing it.
"I think we have made some kind of a mistake with the industrial park," McGlasson said. "Giving the land away for free is not the way to go.
"Eventually, everything follows jobs," McGlasson said. "If we can start bringing jobs, everything else will follow, and we'll be successful."
Alderman Bob Russell said the city needs to work on putting together marketing information to give to people interested in the community.
Russell said he believes the city could create a financial arrangement that would allow future businesses and the city both to profit from relocations.
For the commercial areas, council members want to look into creating better landscaping on Illinois 116 and Illinois 23 and adding a sidewalk along Illinois 116.
They also want to increase marketing efforts for tourism.
The council also will look into affordable-housing options and addressing land and sewer needs.
For the downtown area, the council wants to look into resurfacing streets, creating a theme to the area and linking it better to the Vermilion River.