Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

June 27, 2013

County to be 1 of 10 in nation to test software

Bill Grimes Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — Effingham County businesses are participating in a software test to determine areas of concern for local businesses, as well as ways for existing businesses to flourish.

Effingham County is one of 10 communities in North America to participate in a beta test of the economic development software. Beta testing is the final stage of computer product testing before public release.

Ameren Illinois, one of the 10 beta test licensees, chose Effingham County to be a part of the project for a variety of reasons, said Ameren Economic Development Executive Steve Warren.

“We felt like Effingham County had the foundation for us to launch something like this,” Warren said. “With its location at the junction of two interstates, a strong industrial base and energetic economic development efforts, we felt like Effingham County was a logical partner.”

Warren said the Osprey Select software developed by the consulting firm of Blane Canada will have a twin focus.

“The first part is about asking questions,” he said. “In the second part, consultants will talk to employers in an effort to address concerns.”

Four local entities monitoring the project include Effingham city and county, the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce and the new Effingham County Economic Development Foundation. Together, they comprise the Partners-4-Effingham organization.

Dan Woods leads the new economic development foundation.

Both Woods and Warren say economic development professionals are paying much more attention to existing businesses within a community, instead of trying to attract business from elsewhere.

“It is much costlier to find, recruit and bring in a new company than help a local firm grow,” Woods said. “There is great value in steady organic growth.”

Woods said other values of the project include the networking possibilities with other prospects, a business peer, a complementary company in the same business, a supplier, or a customer seeking to move or expand.

Warren said 80 percent of new jobs created within a community come from existing businesses trying to expand. But Woods said recruiting new businesses or encouraging start-up businesses are also important to the total economic development picture.

“The next step is helping those businesses grow,” Woods said.

The businesses selected to participate in the project are primarily non-governmental, non-commercial entities with more than seven employees, and manufacturing, wholesale and regional in nature.

Woods added there’s no time frame for beta test completion. However, he said the four local partners plan a meeting with participating businesses to share results and discuss what to do with the information collected during the test.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.