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Rest on Your Laurels, Kankakee County.

The following was published March 28, 2020, in the Daily Journal‘s special Progress section. The Alliance congratulates all of this year’s honorees.

Change is the universe’s default. Progress, at its best, is positive change. As we together weather the unprecedented global reverberations presented by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, subsequent shelter-in-place precautions, and tremendous personal and business losses, it is tempting to abandon the notion of progress. But that would be a tragic mistake.

Abandoning progress means ignoring the fact that Kankakee County, which shares boundaries with the Kankakee Metropolitan Statistical Area, is currently ranked #1 in the Midwest for 5-year employment and earnings growth by Area Development magazine. That for 6 of the last 7 years, including in 2019, the prestigious Milken Institute ranked the Kankakee MSA #1 in Illinois for job and technology growth.

It would mean forgetting how far Kankakee County has come from the devastating job losses of the 1980s.

As we work to stabilize our community, be reassured by that resilience and the significant recognition that it has engendered. Reflect on all of the important attributes that brought our community to this point of distinction – an indomitable work ethic, a culture of collaboration and caring, a drive to adapt and innovate. These will be more important bedrocks than ever in the dynamic years to come.

Even amid this massive market reset, some collective attention is being paid to lessons learned … with an eye toward progress. Some of the questions that are being asked:

  • How can we better prepare for and mitigate risk, at every level?
  • How can technology and data aid us further in nearly every facet of our work and life?
  • Are there opportunities for better alignment among all types of partners, in order to build efficiencies, conserve resources, improve outcomes and foster accountability?
  • What more can we do to account for human and environmental factors in all of these areas?

The mission of the Economic Alliance is to help build and sustain widespread community wealth. We do that by working in a number of functional areas, primarily through the process of collaboration. In the wake of this dramatic economic shift, we are reminded of our acute interdependency. And, we take note of ways that we could cooperate better.

In the years to come, we look forward bridging those gaps by, for one, broadening the notion of “community stakeholder.” Because, every individual has a role to play in recognizing, cultivating, amplifying and celebrating the innovation and renewal that underpins all of community growth.

Everyone is a part of our progress.

Follow the Economic Alliance’s daily updates at our COVID-19 Response & Recovery portal.