110 E. Walnut Street - Oglesby, Illinois 61348  ·  Phone: 815-883-3389

What’s happening in Oglesby?

December 21, 2013 by City Clerk  
Filed under From the Mayor's Desk

Oglesby is the place where friends and rivers meet.

But, lately, it’s really become a place where the rubber meets the road, as developers are taking notice of the city’s focus on encouraging business and investing in this gateway to Starved Rock.

Interested? From million-dollar projects to drawing off a destination, here’s what’s happening in Oglesby.

Infrastructure Upgrade: Fall 2013
The city is putting the finishing touches on a $6 million infrastructure upgrade that included a new water tower, storm sewer separation and waste water treatment plant upgrade.  All of these projects increase the city’s capacity for growth and have already worked to that end.

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores: January 2014
Located at the southwest corner of the Interstate 39 interchange, the new Love’s represents a $10 million dollar investment by the Oklahoma-based company. Sprawled on 16 acres, it will hold 90-100 truck parking spaces–nearly double its I-80 counterpart in Utica–and house a 6,500-square-foot tire repair center, along with a Hardee’s Restaurant.

Eventually lured by nearby Advantage Logistics and city investments in a new traffic signal and water-sewer service, Love’s expects $3 million in yearly sales and $200,000 in sales tax. Additionally, the travel stop and stores will create 60 new jobs–including five salaried, full-time management positions to be filled locally.

County Market: Breaking Ground late Spring 2014
The answer to many residents’ call for a grocery store in town and a development that’s long topped Mayor Don Finley’s list, County Market is due to open sometime in early 2015. The Quincy-based company recently closed on a 5-acre piece of land northwest of the Walnut Street and Columbia Avenue intersection and the old Geno’s Car Wash by the Rootbeer Stand. The $6 million supermarket will span up to 28,000 square feet and create up to 70 jobs. Conveniently located close to both IVCH’s Oglesby Medical Clinic, Alliance Dental Group and Stough Group senior housing, it will also house a pharmacy.

Company president and CEO Richard Niemann Jr. noted they would develop at least one out-lot to attract additional retail development if the demand materializes, setting up an opportunity for even more growth in Oglesby.

Stough Group: Fall 2012
This 50-unit senior housing group represents a $9 million investment in the city and has a waiting list for openings. (Please put your name on the list if you are considering the housing for the future.)

Broadband Internet
iFiber, a county-wide effort to bring affordable broadband to the area, is expected to go online at the end of 2013. This technological upgrade will set the stage for attracting developers the likes of call centers and off-site data storage companies.

McPhedran Park: May 2013
Oglesby’s newest park boasts a playground, jogging path and exercise stations. The local carpenters union donated labor to construct a lovely fishing pier, and fishermen can look forward to the opening of McPhedran’s stocked pond in the summer of 2014.

These amenities are likely just the spring board to a bigger, more developed complex with the potential to draw in more people and business. A committee is forming with the aim of locating investors who would further develop the land, possibly adding such things as a community center and football and soccer fields.

Investment from within
Several of our own businesses have recently increased their investment in Oglesby. Most recently, local licensed plumber John Senica Jr. opened John Jr.’s True Value hardware store in the downtown. In previous years, Illinois Valley Community Hospital, which has long served the area, set up a brick-and-mortar presence in the Oglesby Medical Clinic. The clinic is staffed with two doctors and a nurse practitioner. Likewise, dentists Dr. Brian Billard and Dr. Manny Valerin expanded Alliance Dental Group, a cosmetic dentistry practice with the latest technologies, in 2009, setting up shop in a new building along Walnut St.

Poised for Progress
For developers, Oglesby represents a growing market and ready-tilled soil. Most, if not all, of the land available for development already has water, sewer and electric services nearby. Additionally, most of the city’s developable land lies in TIF districts and the enterprise zone; these incentives offered by the City of Oglesby help new developers recover some of their cost for bringing in a new business.

Drawing off a Destination
One thing Mayor Finley and economic development and tourism coordinator Becky Clinard have focused on in recent years is bringing folks into Oglesby.

“You have to look at what you have in and around Oglesby and work with what you have,” Finley says. “With three state parks nearby, we’re obviously a destination.

“What we need to do is find ways to bring people here.”

Finley has done that, in ways big and small.

The city revived its summer celebration five years ago, with Summer Fun Fest quickly setting itself apart from other local celebrations. Featuring a fabulous carnival and midway, a race, car show, bags tournament, free kids’ programs unmatched in the area and much more, the city packs a summer’s worth of activities into one week.
The celebration’s budget is $80,000 in the black in the four year’s it has been expanded to a full-blown festival. Those proceeds fuel the general fund, getting un-earmarked money into the city for a little of everything. Smaller events such as weekly farmers markets and an ever-growing Harvest Fest are further building into our small town’s community.

Finley also wrangled in the Central States Tournament, one of nine regional tournaments around the world that feed into the Senior League World Series. Teams from 13 different states are invited to take part in this weeklong event. Family from these states spend time eating, shopping and enjoying what our city has to offer.

Finley has also applied for a canoe access grant for the newly restored river area behind Lehigh Park, by Ed Hand bridge. A boat launch there could mean more exposure for Oglesby.

“We get really positive comments about the things we’re doing,” Finley says of the economic upside of hosting events. “Obviously, the hotels and restaurants are happy. But we also hear from people you might not expect–like John’s Sales and Service, the laundromat, the gas stations, the bars.”

Meanwhile, Finley is always searching for more.

“Mayor Finley is always looking,” Clinard says. “He’s always got an email out or a phone call in to somebody about something.”