KEDC’s Albert: ‘Serious issues’ making Kewanee business development challenging

For Kathy Albert, the last few months have been less about attracting new business to Kewanee, than about helping existing businesses cope with some unprecedented challenges.

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Albert, the executive director of the Kewanee Economic Development Corp., made a report to the City Council at its meeting this week.

She said, “Serious ongoing issues still exist that impact local businesses.” These include recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, supply-chain problems and inflation.

Much of her time has been spent working with business owners to brainstorm ideas for meeting these challenges, Albert said.

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Even so, there have been positive notes on Kewanee’s business scene:

  • Moore Tires is in the midst of an expansion of its West Second Street facility that had been postponed last year.

These include demolishing the Butterwick Building at Third and Chestnut to make room for a new building, adding onto the east end of the existing service building and using the former Boiler Room property for storage.

Albert noted that Moore Tires owner Jeff Moore has given $15,000 to the Kewanee Arts Council for preserving the two murals that had been painted on the side of the Butterwick Building.

  • Rhino Tool has been doing well at its Burlington Avenue location.
  • Boss Manufacturing is now Boss Pet, and still operates its distribution center in Kewanee. The company has been especially hard-hit by supply-chain problems, Albert said.
  • KEDC officials have worked with the city on plans for a downtown redevelopment program for which the city is seeking grant funds.
  • There has been “activity” at the former Kewanee Manufacturing plant on Burlington Avenue, which has been empty for many years. Albert said she couldn’t release any further information on that property at this time.

She said no loans have made in recent months from the city’s revolving loan fund, which KEDC administers.

Several loan applications have been received, Albert said, but they didn’t meet all the requirements. She said she has been working with the applicants on putting together all the necessary information.

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Albert was asked about the progress on the solar farm Sunpin Solar is planning for the Lininger Industrial Park on the west end of the city.

She said Sunpin officials have received the necessary permits for the operation and are negotiating with three companies, one of which is in Illinois, to purchase the power it generates.

Albert said she hopes construction on the solar farm can be completed this year. In the meantime, oats will be planted on the site to keep down the weeds.

In another economic issue, Mayor Gary Moore again called for action to repair Red Adams Road.

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The mayor noted that Ameren Illinois is planning a $3 million expansion of its facility on the road, and two other major businesses also use the road.

“We need to take a serious look at doing what we can to fix that road,” Moore said.

Read More: KEDC’s Albert: ‘Serious issues’ making Kewanee business development challenging

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