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updated: 5/24/2021 12:55 PM

Celebrating those who supported Illinois businesses

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By Bryan Gay
Invest Aurora

For the first time, the state of Illinois along with Intersect Illinois and the Illinois Economic Development Association (IEDA) celebrated the International Economic Development Council's (IEDC) Economic Development Week May 9-15.

Economic Development Week is intended to "increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities and improve communities' quality of life everywhere." This year, we did just that across the state as we came together to celebrate the work done by our colleagues over the past year.

As the chairman of the IEDA, I was humbled and proud of how our members, and the entire state of Illinois rose to meet the challenges of the past year. Across the state I saw individuals stepping up to ensure that Illinois businesses received the support that was needed, while we worked to position the state for increased growth in 2021 and beyond.

Over the past year, our IEDA members were coaches, cheerleaders, therapists. You name it, they did it. It meant longer hours, meetings at nights or over the weekend, nine Zoom meetings stacked one after another. They were happy to do it, and we are applauding their willingness to help so many weather this terrible storm.

In Aurora we celebrated Economic Development Week with the launch of our new marketing campaign, "Lighting the Future" in Aurora. Over the past few years economic development efforts in Aurora have helped businesses create over 2,000 jobs and created opportunities to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in our local economy.

This campaign is designed to highlight what makes Aurora a unique location in the Western suburbs and to highlight our recent successes but to shine a light on our bright future.

We are celebrating our successes in job creation; whether it's through the attraction of Factor_75 to a long vacant grocery store on the west side of town, or the retention and expansion of Sonova's corporate headquarters on the east side, Aurora has seen great successes throughout. Over the past year the city has welcomed viaPhoton, FlexXray, Amsino and many others.

We're also celebrating the successful launch of several new relief programs such as the STABLE fund, Restore Aurora Business Relief fund and the CERF Fund, all of which were designed to assist local businesses struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide civil unrest experienced in 2020 and 2021.

We are extremely proud of the work we accomplished over the past year, some of it the most important we have done in our careers. We are eager to follow this momentum into the rest of this year and beyond, and will continue working alongside our economic development colleagues as we work together to build a stronger and resilient community here in Illinois.

• Bryan Gay is president and CEO of Invest Aurora.