Business View Civil and Municipal | March 2021

135 CIVIL AND MUNICIPAL MARCH 2021 FREEPORT , I LL INOI S “There are some opportunities within our existing companies to climb the ladder, so to speak, and build wealth,” says Mark Williams, Executive Director of the Greater Freeport Partnership. “There are U.S. manufacturing companies that really try to recruit based on that opportunity and create the perfect job and income for somebody to raise a family with. If they come to work for that company, they can stay there and build a career.” One such company is Furst-McNess. Frank E. Furst and Frederick W. McNess founded the company in Freeport in 1908. For more than a century the company has delivered customized commercial livestock feed, feed ingredients and consulting to clients. Today, Furst-McNess is a multinational family business in its fourth generation. But not every business in Freeport is big and established. “In addition to the larger companies that we have, we have a lot of local entrepreneurs in the community,” explains Kirstin Hinds, Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Freeport. “Just in the past year, surprisingly, even with COVID, we’ve had six ribbon cuttings for small local businesses opening up.” The city is trying to grow responsibly by taking advantage of its existing infrastructure. This is done by encouraging the reuse of existing facilities, whether that be for manufacturing, offices or housing. “We have all the major tools that are available to redevelop, as well as develop, from the ground up,” Williams reports. “Enterprise zones, tax-increment finance districts for financing, hospitality zone areas, any kind of tool that can help reduce the cost of doing business here. We have industrial sites, as well as commercial and retail sites. Some are existing facilities as well.” Freeport is also part of the Northern Illinois Land Bank, a government entity focused on helping communities eliminate blight by providing clear titles to new purchasers of property. Land banks are created to strategically