CLINTON, Iowa – The new year could usher in some big business news for Clinton including a major new employer coming to town and the merger of three business advocate groups.
That’s the word from Andy Sokolovich, who recently was named interim president of the Clinton Regional Development Corporation (CRDC).
Mr. Sokolovich was the CRDC’s vice president of economic development and replaced Erin Cole as the group’s leader in late December. Ms. Cole left the position for a job with the U.S. Department of Commerce/U.S. Commerce Service.
He recently reviewed some of the major projects and the challenges facing the CRDC and Clinton in 2022.
One of the most significant projects of the new year could be the completion of a plan to bring a new company and major employer to the community, which could happen in just a few weeks.
“It’s moving along. All the pieces are in place… We could be signing an agreement in a couple of weeks,” Mr. Sokolovich told the Quad Cities Regional Business Journal.
The name of the employer has not been released, but that company has been referred to as “Project MG.” The company could bring 60 high-paying jobs to the city, and make a multi-million-dollar capital investment in Clinton by building a facility at the Lincoln Industrial Rail and Air Park.
According to a State of Iowa application for a revolving loan for fiscal year 2022, Clinton’s “Project MG” is described as: “Company is building a plant to convert locally produced agricultural feedstock into renewable fuels. Rail facilities improvement will connect the plant to UP (Union Pacific) railroad.”
During the CRDC’s annual meeting in December, Ms. Cole said bringing in new employers to the community is great, but the benefits go beyond the addition of one company. The city and its residents will benefit in many ways.
“That’s not the whole story. You will see a ripple effect in the community with this, including new housing projects and more,” she said.
Another change that is close to becoming a reality is the merger of three Clinton business advocate groups – the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, Clinton Convention & Visitors Bureau and CRDC. The three are expected to merge into a single organization. The new group’s name has not been decided, but a leading contender is the Greater Clinton Partnership for Growth.
Mr. Sokolovich said he expects that merger to be complete in the first quarter of this year. By late December, officials were completing the new organization’s bylaws and working with lawyers to finalize the merger.
“There’s a lot of balls in the air right now on this and we want to make sure nothing gets dropped,” he added. “We want to go slow and make sure it is done right.”
The merger is being done to better help businesses in the community during these changing economic times, and to eliminate mission redundancies that may currently exist between the three groups, added Mr. Sokolovich.
A merged organization will enable increased focus on key business priorities in the community such as business retention, expansion and workforce development, according to an email recently sent to Clinton area business leaders from the three organizations.
Perhaps the most challenging issue facing Clinton — and many other cities nationwide – in the new year is finding people to fill available jobs in the community.
“If you are out looking for work and tell me you can’t find a job, I’m going to call you a liar,” said Mr. Sokolovich.
The CRDC interim president added that one of his priorities for the new year will be helping companies find creative ways to attract people to those jobs. Sometimes, that will take companies offering top benefits and bonuses. But it also might take the community doing a better job of promoting the quality of life Clinton has to offer.
Mr. Sokolovich said that one of lessons learned from the pandemic is that many people worked from home and took a better look at their communities. And in many cases, they decided they don’t want to live in larger cities.
That’s where Clinton can benefit by showcasing its many positive features of a smaller city, he added.
“We have to be less humble and more braggy about Clinton,” Mr. Sokolovich said. “I’m optimistic about the new year, but I’m optimistic about every year.”