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Freeport, Stephenson County groups link up to promote area

By Guy Stephens 

Several Freeport and Stephenson County business groups are combining forces to promote the area.

Freeport City Manager Lowell Crow helped launch the endeavor, currently called NewCo. He said its aim is to help boost Freeport and Stephenson County by making it easier to do business there.

“So it’s one-stop shopping,” he said. “You know, for everything dealing with economic development, whether it be events, economic growth, small business development, membership. It’s all under one roof.”

Those efforts are now being handled separately by the Northwest Illinois Development Alliance, Freeport/Stephenson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Freeport Downtown Development Foundation and Freeport Area Chamber of Commerce.

All will be represented on NewCo’s board. They’ll be joined by city, county, and school officials.

Crow said it also will fill in important gaps.

“Retail recruitment, and retail development, was not a core mission of any of the organizations,” he said, “and, now, that’s one of the things we’ve put in there.”

Crow says NewCo will also look at downtown development, not only in in Freeport but also in other towns in the county like Lena or Dakota, and he added that the group will enable the region to speak with one voice as it promotes growth in the area.

A national search for an executive director is underway. Other staff will be hired in the future.

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