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WJBD - Local News - Salem's New Economic Development Director Discusses Priorities and Challenges

Salem Economic Development Director Jeannie Gustafson

Salem's New Economic Development Director Discusses Priorities and Challenges

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

Salem's new Economic Development Director Jeannie Gustafson has shared her ideas on the most important part of economic development with the Salem Chamber of Commerce.   

"To me the number one thing we have to do in economic development is recognize what we have locally.  Visit them, tell them we appreciate them, find out what their needs are, and in a lot of cases what they know about this town that we don't know that we could use to market," said Gustafson.

Gustafson feels Salem has a lot to offer to new businesses.  "First of all you have a good cost of living here.  We know that because we run those numbers.  Second of all, you have a great great resource with this interstate.  Third of all, this town holds character.  There is something about a community that recognizes that economic development is not just about jobs, but it is about the quality of your community where you can all work together and grow it as a group and grow it collectively so the quality of life to be the best it can be t the end of the day," said Gustafson.

Gustafson admits being in the State of Illinois is a challenge and recently cost Centralia a major prospect after the local site had risen to the top of the competition.  

"I don't think it is the end all, but I do know companies have concerns about the credit rating of the state. And I do know we do still have some issues with the cost of doing business.  But I think locally we can offset some of that by our advantages of  our cost of doing business here. You do have a good labor force," said Gustafson.  "And another thing, we have people who can drive a mile a minute.  There is something to be said about our time being spent on the golf course or a boat or something like that instead of being stuck in busy traffic."

Gustafson says she will also be working on the department's website and data base.  She notes an economic development department is only as good as its data and ability to respond.   

Gustafson started work as Salem's Economic Development Director earlier this month and told everyone she appreciates the opportunity.  

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