State of the County Address Highlights Need for Even Greater Partnership

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In his passionate but firm address, Chairman John Blum focused not only on county goals, but also the importance of how Stephenson County and the city of Freeport must work together to spur development.

Blum discussed the Mill Race industrial complex south of Freeport as a prime example of that needed partnership with the city to inject new jobs.

The chairman praised Freeport's City Council for entering into an intergovernmental agreement on the proposed site last week.

The county board is expected to make their decision on the agreement at next month's meeting. Though many hurdles remain, the land could lure several new businesses, including the hog processing center Trim-Rite.

However, Blum cautioned residents to separate fact from fiction during the county's pursuit of new business opportunities.

"I would just ask our citizens to hold back on their decision making process and catch up with us. We are going slowly and methodically. Some of the issues that people are bringing up are way down the road, and as you heard earlier, don't even exist, [so] we want to partner with our citizens in evaluating this," Blum said.

Current Freeport Mayor Jim Gitz and mayor-elect George Gaulrapp also made comments at the county board meeting. Both seconded the importance of a strong city/county alliance to lure new business.