August 22, 2016

Community-Based Economic Development

SteveHagerty12Economic development is critical to the success of any municipality – we all want strong employment, investment and retail options for our residents and a strong financial base for city services. While I will work hard every day to make Evanston’s economy stronger, I pledge to work equally hard to make sure that future economic growth benefits all neighborhoods in our city.

My local experience in community-based economic development is strong. I have served as the President of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. I am a Director on the Youth & Opportunity United (YOU) Board and have been actively involved in their successful $15M capital campaign. I serve on the Board of First Bank & Trust, a community owned and operated bank with 11 locations and $1B in assets. I have Chaired the Mayor’s Advisory Board on the Harley Clarke Mansion. I have served on the advisory boards of many local organizations including YJC, Mental Health, YWCA North Shore, Romano Wealth Management and ECF’s Public Service Challenge. I have supported many local non-profits who are addressing important needs in Evanston.

I will apply my business sense to look for opportunities to expand our tax base through smart, strategic economic development, reducing any need to increase taxes or fees. Many of our city’s challenges – infrastructure investment, the achievement gap, maintaining affordability and diversity, and pension liabilities – can only be addressed with sufficient revenue. Since residents are already heavily burdened with taxes we must look to generate revenue through smart, strategic economic development.

What I mean by “smart and strategic” is that the City must:

  • Create an environment where businesses want to be in Evanston: we must be viewed as a City that is reasonable to do business with.
  • Proactively work with quality developers only – to see that projects make it through the conceptual phase and generate much needed tax revenue.
  • Invest in business districts and work hard to attract quality employers – in part by highlighting Evanston’s highly educated, highly skilled, diverse work force.
  • Ensure that community input is always sought, that reasonable concerns are always addressed, and that the concerns of special interests do not outweigh the benefit of the whole.

I will apply my management consulting experience to evaluate economic development using a structured, consistent framework.

  • Will this project create needed revenue to address critical infrastructure or human service needs in our community?
  • What are the tradeoffs and other costs of this development to the community?
  • Do the “costs” outweigh the gain? If the answer is not clear, are there adjustments that can be made to the project to mitigate any risks?
  • What are the costs of inaction in a given neighborhood? For example, a lack of needed retail options or necessary infrastructure for neighborhood residents can worsen the inequality gap between different groups.
  • What positive or negative impact will this project have on maintaining the diversity of this community?

Only by working together, and maintaining the diversity of our community, can we truly move Evanston forward.

Find out more about my stance on other issues that I believe are important to Evanston here: