Park Ridge is asking its residents to help decide what direction it wants to go in terms of economic development by filling out a survey on the city’s website.
The challenge for the city, said Jim Testin, the city’s community preservation and development director, is to maintain the traditionally residential character of Park Ridge while still encouraging businesses that residents would like to see, both to provide products and services in Park Ridge and to add to the tax base.
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The survey, which asks about respondents’ shopping habits, is one initiative of the Economic Development Task Force, a group of 28 community and business leaders which began meeting in January with a goal of bolstering the city’s real estate and sales tax base by attracting and retaining more businesses in the village.
The task force was created to help the village move forward after years of having an economic development commissioner or director – a position that was eliminated two years ago. Economic development responsibilities were assigned to the deputy city manager, but no one is filling that role right now, Testin said.
Task force will gather info, suggest direction
Before deciding how to proceed, the city council decided to ask local leaders to form a task force to help set a direction.
The group has divided itself into five subcommittees, focusing on consumer research and maintaining up-to-date information, communication, city review processes, promoting Park Ridge and marketing Park Ridge’s business environment.
From surveying residents to reviewing signage
Each sub-group set both short- and long-term goals, with some of them already being worked on, Testin said. The consumer survey on the website is one example; a review of the city’s signage regulations is another.
The city also has shown some success in attracting the kinds of retailers it believes its residents want, he said, citing the Whole Foods store planned for Touhy Avenue near Washington Street in Uptown.
Testin said that however the city proceeds – by having a staff member devoted to economic development, for example, or a committee of business leaders, the task force will point them in the right direction.
“This is the perfect first step,” he said.