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2016 Readers' Choice Awards | Best of Will County

Grundy County looks forward to 2016

Grundy County officials: Economic development a priority for the new year

Published: Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 9:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 10:35 p.m. CDT
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(Photo provided)
David Welter
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(Heidi Litchfield - hlitchfield@shawmedia.com)
Doug Pryor

MORRIS – Grundy County officials look forward to economic growth as they move into 2016.

“The economy is getting better, we need to take advantage of the growth and healing and work on economic development within the county,” said Doug Pryor, county administrator. “We need to support the existing industry and work on developing more.”

David Welter, County Board chairman, said that after losing a considerable amount of income when point of sale offices closed in Channahon, the county was forced to look at what it had and how to grow moving forward.

“We have one of the most energy-intensive corridors right here in Grundy County,” Welter said. “They offer good paying jobs, they are good taxpayers and are good partners with the communities.”

He said looking at the history of Grundy County can help map out the future.

“We are the home of the first privately owned nuclear power plant in the country. I hope Grundy County can be home to more firsts, more innovation,” Welter said.

Pryor said Grundy County is unique in that it offers access to road, rail, river and air.

“When you look at what we have access to, we have two major highways that go through Grundy County, we have a river, solid rail and an airport here in Morris to service industry,” he said.

Pryor said enterprise zones that were awarded in 2015 also are beneficial to the county.

A portion of Grundy County is in the Ottawa Enterprise Zone, Diamond received a new enterprise zone, and a portion of the Joliet Arsenal zone comes into Grundy County. Add to that the recent partnership with Livingston County to include a portion of Grundy County at the intersection of Interstate 55 and Route 47 into its proposed 2016 zone, and the county is in a good position to offer incentives to industry wishing to move to the area.

In addition to economic growth, the county is taking steps within its technology infrastructure to make things run smoother and add a layer of transparency for taxpayers.

“The new technology we’ve been working on for the past two years is coming to a head in 2016,” Welter said. “We’ve had several group discussions with our department heads to find what works best for us.”

Pryor said he’s excited for some of the software that will be implemented going forward, including accounting software in Grundy County Treasurer Lori Werden’s office.

“The software takes into account what we have and integrates the budget and accounting,” he said. “It will give more tools for reporting that will help us better understand our finances.”

The county also created a separate Geographical Information Systems department in December that will move forward in 2016 looking at how it can be used by various departments.

Pryor said an example of the capabilities of GIS were shown when department head Dave Ostrander developed a GIS application in 2015 that gives the Highway Department a way to map and coordinate its traffic signs and sign maintenance. Ostrander is looking to expand this with an infrastructure asset management application for the department to use in its ongoing inspection and repair of county-maintained culverts.

Ostrander also is examining how the County Clerk’s Office can use GIS during elections.

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GRUNDY COUNTY PRIORITIES FOR 2016

• Continue economic development.

• Implement new software throughout the county.

• Execute same-day voter registration.

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