One Rockford project could be just a week away from having its funding approved. At least one city leader is against the idea.
20 city-funded non-profits including RAVE, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Workforce Investment Board, Rockford Area Arts Council, Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful, The Element, Neighborhood Network, Rock Valley College Small Business Development Center, Midtown District, Miracle Mile, River District, Southwest Ideas For Today and Tomorrow, Rock River Development Partnership, Weed & Seed, Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Discovery Center and Coronado Performing Arts Center have all been put into one group; the Economic Development, Education, & Entrepreneurship Network, or EDEEN. The idea is to maximize city resources by funding the organizations altogether instead of individually, but not everyone backs the network.
"This is the worst legislation or the worst use of taxpayers dollars I've ever seen." -says 7th Ward Alderman Ann Thompson-Kelly.
Alderman Thompson-Kelly doesn't think EDEEN even needs to exist. Another city leader says the network offers support.
"There's a couple of business organizations that haven't been producing up-to-par and that's been an on-going problem. That's why EDEEN has formed so that people who know what they're doing and are already successful at it can help the business associations that are trying to get off the ground and trying to get things going." -says 11th Ward Alderman Karen Elyea.
EDEEN comes with administration, made up of non-profit leaders and a new hire. $30,000 is in the budget for a coordinator to make sure organizations are clear on their goals. Alderman Thompson-Kelly believes this is just adding a layer of government.
"Why would we pay someone to say they need to supervise them? That's asinine, it's a waste of taxpayers' dollars."
Thompson-Kelly thinks EDEEN's goals don't reflect what all the included non-profits are trying to accomplish. Alderman Karen Elyea thinks these organizations will benefit, being a part of the network.
"I'm fairly pleased with the direction it's going and is it perfect? No, but I think it's definitely a lot better than it was when they were not working together." -she says.
Full council is scheduled to vote on EDEEN's budget at Tuesday's city council meeting. EDEEN leaders Janyce Fadden and John Groh were unavailable for comment.
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