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Westchester committee hopes to spur business development

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 5:06 p.m. CDT

WESTCHESTER – Facelifts for storefront facades is one of three projects the village's Economic Development Committee is planning to help local businesses and attract new ones.

The committee is also developing plans to plant more trees throughout the village and erect more signs that tell drivers and pedestrians they are in Westchester.

"Because we have so very few actual intersections that are 100 percent [owned by] Westchester, we're trying to figure out creative ways to identity corridors to put up our signage," said Joe Mills, Economic Development Committee chair.

Several of the main roads running through the village are owned by the state.

The committee is also brainstorming criteria for selecting businesses to receive renovations to their storefront facades, which the village hopes to fund through grants, either from governmental bodies or out of the village's hotel/motel tax, Mills said. 

"There are several corridors where if you look at the structures from the street, they are not nearly as nice as they should be," he said.

A business summit that would connect local merchants with each other and village staff is also in the works. The committee recently sent questionnaires to local businesses and found there are 600 within the village – and that only a small number are considering relocating, Mills said. 

In recent years, the village has significantly improved the permit process for new businesses, Mills said. The summit would link the village with business owners to improve code enforcement and other business processes. 

"To find out what is it that is keeping businesses from growing, expanding and/or what is keeping businesses from seeing more customers?" Mills said. 

The committee has also debated which areas of the village could be developed as TIF districts, but Village Manager Janety Matthys said recently that the village will not pursue a TIF district until it receives concrete interest for new developments.

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