Jim Lenz's guest is Amy Graham, Carthage's new community development director. They talk about her 30 years experience as an educator and prinipal and how she can draw upon it in her new position.
Graham caller herself a "people person." She says those skills learned in dealing with students and parents will serve her well in her new position. She says her role is as a facilitator to bring people together and to help them make connections whether to expand a business or for community betterment.
She says the city has seen some physical changes in the decades since she left. She says many of the challenges remain the same as do the strengths of the city. She says it remains a "welcoming" community where people are ready to help their neighbors.
Graham says residents and businesses might overlook some of Carthage's advantages. She sees her task as alerting them to those advantages such as the modern hospital and a “fantastic” education system.
Graham says it is important to keep the downtown business district healthy. The best way to do that, she says, is to talk with those owners about their concerns and to see how she can assist them.
Although Graham does not have a background in economic development, she says there are a lot of people she can depend on for advice.
She says,. "We have a very creative and dedicated group of business leaders and community leaders here in Carthage. And they have done a remarkable job.”
Graham is also doing a great deal of research. She has been reading office files since she started the job July 22nd. She wants to quickly acquaint herself with previous and current projects.
She is preparing a presentation that she can give to prospective businesses from outside the area to showcase the city's advantages for business.
Graham wants to approach economic development from a regional perspective. She says her vision is to look at cooperation with other cities in Hancock to benefit Carthage, particularly in promoting tourism. She eventually hopes to widen that cooperation to other cities in West-Central Illinois.