by Greg Prestemon
In case you hadn’t heard, not everyone loved 2016.
For example, regardless of whether your musical taste leans more toward Prince or Merle Haggard, we all had someone to mourn.
And politics? No matter who you voted for, you’re probably glad we can go back to TV commercials about mattresses and custard, rather than how this person or that person is literally the worst human being to ever walk the face of planet Earth.
We could all use a break from that.
But 2016 wasn’t all bad.
They were some bright spots, particularly in St. Charles County. Our staff here at the St. Charles County EDC Business and Community Partners looked back on 2016 and crunched the numbers, and this is what we came up with:
- We exceeded our goals when it came to financing new entrepreneurs and businesses in St. Charles County through our lending programs. It might feel like an uncertain time, but our entrepreneurs here are bullish about our future and the local economy, and so am I.
- Our incubator programs—OPO Startups and the EDC Incubator—provided more services and resources to entrepreneurs than we even anticipated.
- Speaking of OPO Startups, the county’s newest incubator had its first full calendar year of operation, and has increasingly become a source of tech innovation on Main Street. Randy Schilling’s vision of Main Street as a regional tech hub is becoming more real, every day.
- JBloom became the latest EDC Incubator success story, graduating and moving into a space large enough to accommodate the demand for their custom jewelry. JBloom succeeded because of their own hard work and innovation—but I truly believe their success was in part the result of this community, and the resources and staff support they received from the EDC Incubator.
- Momentum started building for automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing specific incubators—which could make St. Charles County a national economic hub for these job-creating industries.
- We hosted “What if We Could…”, an event designed to engage leaders across the county and the region in a conversation about the future of topics like entrepreneurship, healthcare, and housing in St. Charles County.
- St. Charles was named one of the 25 best places in the country to start a tech company, and O’Fallon was named one of the 10 best places for young families to live.
- Our Partners group continued to provide vision and leadership in our county, leading the way on initiatives like STEM education and healthy communities.
There is more that I could list here, but the point is that 2016 showed what our county is uniquely capable of. We are fortunate to have some of the region’s best leaders and most visionary thinkers, and the impact of that is apparent to anyone who lives or works here.
Personally, I am not excited for 2017 because I would like to put 2016 behind us.
I’m excited for 2017 because it will be a chance to build on the successes we’ve had—to help more entrepreneurs, to become the hub for industries creating high paying jobs, to continue to make our county one of the best places to live in the entire country.
Together we make St. Charles County strong.
And in the coming year, I’m excited to make it even stronger.
Greg Prestemon is President and CEO of the St. Charles County EDC Business and Community Partners