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November 23, 2005

SIDEZ Annual Public Input Meeting and Resource Fair


The Southernmost Illinois Delta Empowerment Zone, Inc. (SIDEZ) has scheduled its Annual Public Input Meeting for Thursday, December 8, 2005 at 5:30 PM in the Education Center at Shawnee Community College. A Resource Fair will be held in the Atrium of the college at 7:00 PM following the Public Input Meeting. Elected officials and representatives of local, state and federal agencies will be available to meet with local leaders and members of the public regarding non-empowerment zone resources available for economic and community development projects.

Donna Raynalds, SIDEZ Executive Director, notes that 2006 will be the eighth year of the empowerment zone's 11-year designation. According to Raynalds, funding for empowerment zones is included in the 2006 federal budget, although at a reduced level. Due to the uncertainty of continued funding of the empowerment zone initiative beyond 2006, the SIDEZ Board of Directors will recommend a narrowing of focus of empowerment zone activities at the Annual Public Input Meeting. The SIDEZ board will recommend focusing on one or two activities that they believe will have the most lasting impact on the economic recovery of the area. The Resource Fair has been scheduled to build the capacity of units of government and local organizations to continue planning and carrying out high priority activities without empowerment zone funding. Local leaders and residents are strongly encouraged to attend.

"Response from invitations to resource agencies has been good," noted Raynalds, "Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Southern Illinois University Office of Economic and Regional Development, USDA Rural Development and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency have indicated they will have representatives at the Resource Fair." Other agencies such as Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, HUD, Delta Regional Authority, Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau and Shawnee Development Council have been invited.

Refreshments will be served in the Atrium at 5 PM and during the Resource Fair. For more information, contact SIDEZ at 618-745-6307 or toll free at 866-407-1450. SIDEZ is an equal opportunity provider.

© 2005 The Cairo Gate