Results of Mercer County Business Community Needs Assessment & Recommendations of Mercer County Housing Marketing Task Force

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Results of the Mercer County business community needs assessment will be presented at the Nov. 4 Mercer County Board meeting, 7 p.m., Mercer County Courthouse.

The survey supports a business retention and expansion program, which will help strengthen small business development and entrepreneurship in Mercer County. Additionally, the Mercer County Marketing Task Force on Housing has made its recommendation for advancing identified strategies as a result of study undertaken to create a housing profile that provides a comprehensive picture of current housing conditions and future needs for Mercer County. These recommendations also will be presented at the Board meeting. Both studies were conducted by University of Illinois Extension, who also partnered with the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs on the housing profile.  

More than 100 of 600 business owners in the County responded to the needs assessment survey, resulting in a 19 percent response rate. Results reveal that longevity exists among Mercer County businesses, with most owned and established as sole proprietorships. Commercial activity is primarily farming supported by retail establishments and construction, mirroring the make-up of home-based businesses nationwide. Fall is the dominant season for sales, which is reflective of a farming community. Mercer County business owners also follow the national trend on succession planning, with 19 percent reporting that they will close their business due to retirement. In addition to succession planning, opportunities exist for strengthening partnerships with regional organizations, collaborative promotional efforts, and creating common tracking tools. There also may be opportunity in the hospitality sector for second and retirement homes, as suggested with the Mercer County housing profile.  

With regard to the housing project, the Marketing Task Force on Housing has recommended establishing an inventory of rental property and developable land, adopting the International Property Maintenance Code with a mandatory program to establish uniform expectations, establishing vocational programs for youth population, executing follow-up surveys for the identified needs area, and identifying grant opportunities. Organizations who will be working with the Mercer County Board to advance these strategies include Heritage Woods of Aledo, Mercer County Housing Authority, Mercer County Assessor’s Office, Mercer County School District, Sherrard School District, and University of Illinois Extension.

“Through both of these efforts, we are committed to ensuring  a strong business community and long term sustainability of the local economy,” said Maxine Henry, Board Chair for Mercer County. “Thank you to the members of the Mercer County Marketing Task Force for their dedication to the housing project.” Individuals or businesses interested in advancing the business retention and expansion project should contact the Extension Office, (309) 582-5106.

Mercer County Marketing Task Force on House

Gregory Beckman, Alexis

Pastor Luke Dunn, Aledo

Linda Eldridge, New Boston

Pete Guyton, Sherrard

Rich Maynard, Aledo

Harold Morrison, Viola

Tom Mulder, Viola

Robb Osborn, Rock Island

Jason Potter, Aledo

Lolly Berg, Mercer County Housing Authority

Jenny Garner, University of Illinois Extension

Kim Sheese, Mercer County School District

Susie Swearingen, Heritage Woods of Aledo

Ruth Thompson, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs