City officials in Fulton, Illinois, are making big decisions about how to create job growth in the area. The question is: how best to do that - bring in housing or industry? City leaders are choosing businesses to boost the bottom line.
Building new housing along about 100 acres of land just south of town has been up for discussion for years. The debate became greater when word came the Thomson Prison may finally open soon.
But it was the consultant the city hired to help capitalize on that potential population boom that helped city leaders make the decision. He recommended using the major lot for creating new business.
Part of the reason is that there is other unused land around town where potential apartments could go. And, if you look across the street, there are already four or five operating industrial businesses, which makes the land in question less than ideal for families.
City leaders hope to use this plot of land to bring in 27 different businesses when all is said and done, and it's already paying off.
Aldermen say one local resident has expressed interest in bringing in his business.
"We have a young couple who is high skilled in machinery -- and they're interested in moving into that industrial park," explained Alderman Charles Dykstra, who represents the First Ward.
"As soon as we made the decision to go industrial, we had them waiting right there asked to buy some property," he said.
That business would create six jobs, and the owner is looking to buy three or four acres.
There is no word yet on how soon this business owner will start building and move in.
There's no doubt about one thing, though, there is a lot of land available to businesses that want it.
The consultant also encouraged the city to try to bring in a fast food restaurant, and expand on its park system, so future Thomson Prison employees will have a safe and fun place to take their kids.