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Francis J. Smith Named IMPACT Award Recipient


April 11, 2024




Francis J. Smith, of Manteno, is named the recipient of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County IMPACT Award for his commitment to the growth of sustainable development in the region.

“Francis has shown tireless efforts in shaping our community,” said Tim Nugent, President/CEO of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County. “His accomplishments serve as a reminder of the power of innovation, determination and commitment in driving meaningful progress, and he has done this over the course of decades.”

The IMPACT Award honors the accomplishments of an individual, business or organization whose investments of time, treasure and talent have propelled sustainable growth and progress within the community.  Through decades of innovation, investment and service, Francis Smith, often known as Smitty, has significantly shaped the economic landscape of the region, fostering opportunities for employers, employees, organizations and community members alike.

“Smitty’s unwavering resolve and visionary outlook has really paved the way for lasting change in Manteno and Kankakee County,” Nugent said. “This is how work gets done, and how growth and development happen.”

Smith is a lifelong resident of the Village of Manteno and a graduate of the former St. Patrick’s High School of Kankakee, now known as Bishop McNamara Catholic School, where he remains heavily involved in all facets of fundraising. Smith graduated from the University of Notre Dame and returned to the area where he began his business career in insurance, banking and development.

Over the course of half a century Smith has been significantly involved in development of several subdivisions across the region, and as the founder and director of Illinois Diversatech, turning the site into a manufacturing and industrial hub following the closure of the Manteno State Hospital in 1985.

Smith has served the community in various capacities including as Chairman of the Board of Manteno Bank Shares, the holding company for Homestar Bank.  Francis has served as chairman of the Manteno Planning Commission for the Village since 2005 and the Riverside Healthcare Board of Directors since 2006. Smith has been and continues to be a strong advocate in several political campaigns in Kankakee County and throughout Illinois.

“He knows that a strong workforce drives economic prosperity.  He just gets it, and he understands what we are doing at Kankakee Community College,” said Dr. Michael Boyd, President of Kankakee Community College and Chairman of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County. “He doesn’t just understand what we are doing; though, he also gets involved in KCC’s work.  Francis and Jean have been long-term friends and supporters of student success at KCC, and their involvement has already created a lasting legacy at KCC.

“He has a long legacy as a great thinker and entrepreneur, as a generous giver, and as an active member of the community as a whole,” said Phil Kambic, President of Riverside Healthcare, the largest employer in Kankakee County. “Riverside has definitely benefitted from his insights and involvement with us, as I know many other organizations have as well.   I am very pleased to know he will be recognized for the significant impact he’s made.”

Smith’s impact reaches far beyond economic development.

“I have been so blessed and honored to have worked for and with Francis Smith since the early 80’s. There is no one more loyal to faith, family, friends and community than Smitty,” said Pat Martin, EVP / Community President of Iroquois Federal and longtime friend. “Our community, county and region are fortunate to have benefited from the huge impact Smitty has made in our lives. This award is rightly named and well deserved by Smitty.”

“Francis is also a great friend and mentor,” added Dr. Boyd. “As focused as he has been on economic development and community achievement, he’s also taken the time to get to know me and my family.  His well-timed advice and encouragement have made me a better leader.”

Smith and his wife, Jean, have been married for 57 years and have four children, William who resides in Chicago, Mike and Pam of Washington DC, and Kelly of Denver.  Smith will be presented with the IMPACT Award at the annual ‘Denny’ Golf Outing to be held July 29, 2024, at the Kankakee Country Club.

The Economic Alliance of Kankakee County is a public-private partnership that works to expand the economic base by improving the local business climate in Kankakee County. The Alliance employs a collaborative approach to support development in the strategic areas of business retention, expansion and attraction, and workforce and community development.

For more information contact Tim Nugent, President/CEO at tnugent@kankakeecountyed.org or 815.935.1177; or Angela Morrey, Vice President of Business Development at amorrey@kankakeecountyed.org or 630.800.0006.

Francis J. Smith