Area business owners gathered Wednesday night for the annual banquet put on by Belvidere-Boone County's economic development group Growth Dimensions. They traded business cards and tips on how to move our region forward.
"More and more it's becoming a regional economy versus a local economy and we all have the same issues we're faced with," says George Mutert, co-owner Franklin Wire and Display.
The event honored General Mills-Green Giant for it's commitment to the region. The company's Belvidere plant provides 600 jobs. Now they're preparing to expand their snack operations and add 100 more jobs in the next few months.
"When we put new projects in here they tend to have outstanding start-ups. The second reason is the partnership with the city of Belvidere and Growth Dimensions folks. We've had just a very healthy partnership over the years," says Kevin Schoen, V.P. Manufacturing for General Mills-Green Giant.
The executive director for Growth Dimensions, Mark Williams says the General Mills-Green Giant expansion is just the most recent in a string of advancements that show the region is headed the right way.
"We're certainly on track with our economic development program, the job creation, the investment in industrial and commercial property. The number of jobs at Crysler ramped up this past year really has put the whole region at the top of the state as far as job growth goes, says Williams.
Williams is also excited an industrial lubricants Chemtool plant got first round approval Tuesday night to come to Boone County. If the full county board approves it, it would bring in 500 new jobs.
On a more down note, Collins and Aikman, a Belvidere company that makes parts for the Chrysler plant is set to shut down soon. But Williams says it will have to be replaced locally, so it's not a true loss.