The Big 4 Merger – Tourism, Economic Development and Business Services Become One

Freeport, Illinois — The city of Freeport announced on Monday that the main four organizations that control the economic development, tourism and business services of the city will be joining forces to form a new organization and says Collaborate Freeport and the All In Freeport brand will be part of the new organization.

The press release states that the new organization they’re calling NewCo for now, (temporary until they come up with a permanent name) will combine four boards of directors into one organization with one mission. The release says that NewCo will be “one board and one voice”.

In an article released by WREX, city manager Lowell Crow says the reason is  “To really generate a single mission, to attract families here, to attract businesses here, and not only to Freeport but Stephenson County”.

Stephenson County Board Chair William Hadley said in the city’s release that “Our community–the county, the city, the business sector and individual citizens–has shown that we can create tremendous opportunity when we work together.”

As for those who are currently members of the Chamber of Commerce in Freeport, the city’s release says that business services and programs provided by the Chamber will remain intact and that all current Chamber members will now be members of the new organization temporarily called NewCo. You can read more from the Chamber about the merger here.

As for NewCo, a 17-person initial board will oversee the activities and its members will include three representatives from each of the four organizations, the city says. The board of NewCo will also include the Freeport City Manager, County Board Chair, a representative from Highland Community College and Freeport School District and a representative from either another taxing jurisdiction or not-for-profit who will be designated by the Board.

WREX reports the group will have a combined budget. The city’s release adds that funding will come from the City of Freeport, NIDA investors, Chamber and FDDF members, and says that if approved, will come from Stephenson County as well.

The city says NewCo will also generate revenue through co-op advertising programs, grants and revenue from events.

As for additional details, the city says the consolidated organization would enter into three-to five-year Service Agreements with the City of Freeport and Stephenson County. The agreements would be to “deliver services and attain agreed upon performance metrics”, according to the release.

In return for the agreed upon services and performance metrics, the City and County will compensate the new organization.

“The County Board’s and City Council’s approval of their respective agreements with NewCo will represent their endorsement of the consolidation.”

What could it mean? More money and more resources to organizations like the Freeport Downtown Development organization, WREX writes. More money and more resources it didn’t have when it was on its own.

It could also mean for those wanting to visit, start or grow a business, NewCo could provide one main entry point to investing in, and growing roots in, Freeport and Stephenson County.

City manager Lowell Crow said in an article on Northern Public Radio that “Retail recruitment, and retail development, was not a core mission of any of the organizations”. He added, “now, that’s one of the things we’ve put in there.”

The city says that a national search has begun to find an executive director and says that NewCo staff will also include a planning and development director, a member service director, a tourism and marketing director, visitors center manager and administrative staff.


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One thought on “The Big 4 Merger – Tourism, Economic Development and Business Services Become One

  • April 14, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Impressed with progressive Freeport Stephenson Cty IL.

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