GREDF’s website says: “Our number one priority is to retain existing businesses and help them grow. We assist prospective businesses, site consultants and entrepreneurs. We also take the lead in a variety of initiatives that contribute to the outstanding quality of life we enjoy here.
“Our objective is to address retention issues and expedite the development process. This may include providing a basic demographic report or detailed site information, referring you to a contact in our community, or arranging meetings with appropriate parties at the local, county and state levels to help you achieve your goals.”
GREDF has faced criticism for not doing more to attract new businesses with head-of-household quality jobs, for doing other tasks usually reserved for a chamber of commerce or a tourism board, or serving more as a public relations firm for certain pet projects. The ballyhooed Tri-State Summit eventually came to be seen as nothing more than a glorified lunch in some quarters.
Shortly before Jim Mentesti’s retirement as GREDF president in 2012, both the City of Quincy and Adams County had cut a portion of GREDF’s funding. The Quincy City Council approved reducing the annual subsidy to GREDF from $68,500 to $49,900. Kyle Moore, introduced Thursday afternoon as the new GREDF president, was on the council at that time and voted for the reduction. It was seen as a shot across the bow to tell the agency it needed to perform better.
The city and county’s respective contributions have rebounded. Adams County’s budget currently provides $80,000 annually to GREDF, while the City of Quincy contributes $65,000. GREDF also receives membership dues from businesses throughout the region.
Moore praised Wagner, saying he righted GREDF’s ship in terms of fundraising and communications with city and county officials.
“Every organization can benefit from a fresh perspective,” Moore said. “Marcel has done a wonderful job the last nine years at the helm. People forget that he had a lot of work to do to strengthen their financial position, and GREDF has been such a key partner with the Adams County Together Task Force. The work (GREDF) did during the COVID outbreak really showed the organization’s value.”
GREDF Board Chairman Mike Elbe said the agency’s primary mission is to help the region’s existing employers find workers. He said GREDF will do anything to accommodate a company that wanted to bring in a manufacturing plant, but the agency isn’t aggressively pursuing that at this time.
“We need to refocus our efforts on talent, cultivation, attraction and retention,” Moore said. “You know, how many businesses we are witnessing right now that are reducing their hours because they can’t find workers? That’s a population problem. We need to make sure that if we do one thing right, we work on that one aspect of it — and that’s a little different than what GREDF has done before, by their mission, of 10 to 20 years ago, which was bringing businesses in town, whether it be manufacturers or retailers. There’s no sense in bringing those folks into town if they can’t find employees.”
Elbe said GREDF is working on filling the vacant big box stores on Broadway, many of which left Quincy during Moore’s tenure in City Hall. Quincy retailers have suffered with the rest of America as shoppers now utilize Amazon and other online outlets to find what they want, so it’s difficult to pin all of the blame of a partially-barren Broadway on anything Quincy, Adams County or GREDF did or didn’t do.
Once the Knapheides, Titans and Hollister-Whitneys are flush with employees, then maybe Quincy can bring in an electric car manufacturer or a wind turbine production facility. A hydroelectric plant on the Mississippi probably isn’t the way to go, as Moore already put that folly to rest when he was mayor.
And Kyle, Ellen Duffy-Gough still wants her Target.