INITIATIVES & PROJECTS
Design and implement capital improvement projects to address community infrastructure needs and add to the beauty and function of a thriving community. Increase quality of life in Gillespie to help retain young adults and attract new families to our community.
Vision 2020 & Beyond
State invests $1 M to revitalize downtown Gillespie business district.
The City of Gillespie is investing $700,000 into the streetscape project, which will make a series of significant infrastructure updates and reinvent the aesthetic of downtown Gillespie’s Macoupin Street as a regional destination for shopping, dining, and other commerce. The project will also improve pedestrian safety and make downtown more accessible for residents with mobility challenges.
State Senator, Andy Manar,
“The future of Gillespie is strong thanks to Grow Gillespie and the commitment of local leaders to working with the state to build a vibrant and welcoming business environment,” Manar said. “For the young and talented, these efforts proclaim that you don’t have to move away to get ahead in the 21st-century economy. You have a right to your rural roots, and Grow Gillespie is doing the work to ensure Gillespie is a great place to raise a family and start a business for the next generation.”
Programs & Projects in the Works:
1. Streetscape design by Layne Knoche to begin implementation upon the completion of the water line project.
2. Produce from the Giving Garden (located at the intersection of Chestnut and Montgomery streets) will go to the Nutrition Center and IVEDC lunch program.
3. Grow Gillespie has developed a comprehensive website as a resource for Gillespie's business community and members. There is also an active presence maintained through social media for inspiration & information
4. Grow Gillespie has applied for a grant to develop a bike path that would be out by the old mine.
5. Ongoing tourism opportunities are being explored to attract more visitors to the coal museum and to our community.
Gillespie will be an economically flourishing community that is enticing to new businesses and supportive of existing businesses. We will focus on recruiting aspiring retail entrepreneurs to fill vacant storefronts downtown that are a match to the growth and cultural vision for our community.
Vision 2020 & Beyond
Pop Up Shop Development Downtown Gillespie
Plans are in development to build out the space next to the Illinois Coal Museum with pop up design specifications. As a single-location pop up, this allows Gillespie to attract retail businesses that are already established as a successful "market vendor" and are ready for this next step in business growth. While some existing businesses may feel uneasy at first about the new competition, the increased traffic downtown will benefit all—potentially leading to new private investment and new longer term tenants.
Research and Analysis
Research is being conducted on the types of businesses best suited for a single-location pop up. It's the ideal "stepping stone" opportunity to retain business as they move from "market vendor" to having their own storefront which can help cultivate and retain emerging businesses in our community.
Non-Retail Business Development
A major challenge for small businesses is having sufficient operating capital to make it through the first year or so. One way to mitigate this challenge is by starting business incubators. These programs can remove or lower the businesses’ occupancy expenses. Grow Gillespie's goal is to support the incubator participants so that they can become permanent rent-paying occupants in downtown if they are successful.
Gillespie 's approach to community art involves taking a broad view of arts and culture as a real commitment to inclusion and diversity. Creative arts is crucial to any revitalization
program that leads to a stronger community as a whole and is known to attract new people that can increase overall prosperity.
Vision 2020 & Beyond
1. Heritage Food Festival
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Grow Gillespie cancelled its first Heritage Food Festival event that had been scheduled for March 2020. The food festival was developed with the assistance of Team Envision from SIU-E collaborating through weekly conference calls and in person meetings. Once it is safe to gather, plans are in development to have a downtown celebration ... like a large block party.
2. Past fund raising events included a 5K Fun Run Labor Day Weekend and Kahoot Trivia Game played in teams on a digital app Thanksgiving Weekend,
Community Arts Engagement
The development of the role and presence of the arts in communities leads to a stronger community as a whole. The mission of Grow Gillespie is to stimulate, promote, encourage, and provide recognition of the arts and the creative spirit in our community. Money spent on the arts benefits everyone and Grow Gillespie will seek out grants to support art development programs.
Art & Cultural Ideas
Live street jam session, art exhibitions & festivals, food, drink & music events, international folk festivals, and Summer Block Parties are just a few concepts.