TCEDA ‘Point of Contact’ for Thomson Federal Penitentiary
By Al Griffiths, Director TCEDA
Recently the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced the purchase of Thomson Prison in Thomson, IL. With the opening of the prison there is a tremendous opportunity for our area and we welcome the nearly 1,100 jobs. According to the Daily Herald, “State officials estimated that annual operation of the facility would generate more than $122 million in operating expenditures, including salaries and $61 million in local business sales.”
We have had preliminary discussions with the Bureau of Prisons and have been informed that they will finalize their plans for the coming year sometime in December of this year. At this time they plan on spending a minimum of six months in performing needed modifications, alterations and necessary testing of the current facility. After this phase they will begin the staffing phase. Some hiring could begin before the end of 2013 but their plans are not definite at this time. As we receive information we will pass it along to you.
The Bureau of Prisons has designated the Tri-County Economic Development Alliance (TCEDA) as the point of contact for the Prison. We are currently working on programs and processes that will help our communities take advantage of this opportunity. We know for a fact that the larger communities outside of our area are already working to get as many of the future employees in their community as possible.
If we are to gain economically, we must aggressively market our area and communities. TCEDA is working on a regional marketing program along with setting up a program to assist local communities in marketing themselves. Our hope is to provide municipalities with ready-to-use web pages and a common database that communities can utilize to promote themselves. We have many details to work out and the Bureau of Prisons has pledged their assistance in this effort.
First impressions count and many newcomers will be searching for a new location to call home. These newcomers will need many services including, but not limited to, homes and apartments, furniture and décor for their homes, health care, schools for their children, government services, etc.
Presenting your community as a desirable place to call home will benefit your community in many ways. Not only is there the opportunity to welcome new community members to help grow your community, there is the opportunity for increasing tax revenues, increasing sales, tourism and increasing volunteerism in your community.
Our TCEDA web site will be updated for easy home page access for information about Thomson Prison with links to the communities’ web sites that wish to participate. We will also be adding information for newcomers about our Tri-County region.
We are committed to make this work. We are planning a number of meetings with communities this Spring. The Bureau of Prison has also offered to meet with all of us at a later date.
To help us in this effort we have hired Lisa McCarthy as the Assistant Director of TCEDA. She will be spearheading the planning effort this winter. We are happy to have Lisa as part of the team. She brings a great deal of business experience and technological expertise to TCEDA. Should you have any questions or comments please contact Al or Lisa at your convenience.