After an exhaustive search and interview process, Cedar County has a new economic developer. Many of you will recognize the name of Nick Allison, son of Davin Allison and Amy Hedrick. Nick is an El Dorado Springs native who graduated from El Dorado Springs R-II schools in 2013 and went on to graduate from Truman State University in Kirksville. The economic developer position is shared between the city of El Dorado Springs, Cedar County commissioners and Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission.
Allison started in the new position a week ago and is in the process of learning all he can about business expansion, industry attraction and much more. Nick's office will be in the lower level of the Spring Park Community Building.
As we visited, he asked questions about how the chamber was a partner to him and to our community's economic development. Allison also mentioned he would love to see an infusion of businesses downtown and had some initial ideas on that front. We discussed the Clean-Up El Do campaign and ideas to make El Dorado Springs a more attractive and welcoming place to do business.
"You have to make it easy for them to say 'yes' when it comes to economic development," Allison said.
In essence we are selling El Dorado Springs and Cedar County, it's our product. And we need to make our product as appealing as possible to garner more commerce.
We discussed different forms of economic development, and there are many more types than you might think. Economic development encompasses many areas such as infrastructure, education, health and wellness, transportation, energy, information technology, industrial, tourism, new industry attraction and more. The simple fact is most economic development comes in the form of existing business expansion in our community, more so than an influx of brand-new businesses.
Allison doesn't have any preconceived notions either. Economic development is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, sowing of seeds and cultivation. Some forms of economic development are highly competitive and can be a struggle to attract and retain business. When it's in the form of drawing new business/industry competition is further intensified by the use of many variations of economic incentives to the potential business such as tax incentives, investment capital, donated land, utility rate discounts, and many others. We think Allison is up to the challenge, though!
"I care a lot about this community,” Allison said. “It's where I was raised, and where my family resides. I look forward to working with our existing businesses to see where we might find potential expansion opportunities, research further revitalization possibilities, and the thought of attracting new business to El Dorado Springs is also exciting."
Tough is the executive director of the El Dorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.