MORTON — Jennifer Daly will start her new job as CEO of the Economic Development Council of Central Illinois on Nov. 3.
It may take two people to replace her in Morton.
Daly, 42, has spent the past six years as CEO of the Morton Economic Development Council and executive director of the Morton Chamber of Commerce. Her last day in those positions is Oct. 31.
The organizations have launched separate searches for replacements. The two hiring committees are meeting regularly to compare notes.
“All options are on the table,” said chamber board President Bill Aupperle. “There’s no timeline for hiring someone for the chamber. Having (chamber Program Director) Tammy Stephens around buys us some time. It’s more important that we find the right person.”
John Feser, vice president of the Morton EDC’s board of directors, said the organization is moving aggressively but also deliberately so due diligence is done on candidates.
“We need to find someone with the skills to keep us moving forward,” he said.
Daly is the Morton EDC’s first CEO.
The Morton EDC and chamber share office space and staff. And they have much in common, Daly said.
“They’re both pieces of a puzzle working for the same result,” she said. “The goal of the EDC is job creation. That includes helping existing businesses stay and grow.
“The chamber helps its membership through promotion, advocacy and training.”
The Morton Pumpkin Festival is the chamber’s most public face. With the help of hundreds of volunteers, site improvements, new events and new partnerships, Daly said, festival attendance has doubled since 2009.
Aupperle said what Daly has accomplished as the chamber’s director has gone above and beyond expectations.
“She’s close to irreplaceable, but we’ll do our best,” he said. “We need to find someone with the same drive so we continue making progress.”
Feser praised Daly’s leadership, especially regarding the Morton EDC’s strategic plan, and regional point of view.
The Morton EDC has brought in 38 new businesses and played a role in 24 business expansions since its inception, creating an estimated 800 new jobs in the village and more than $700,000 annually in new property tax revenue.
The organization also is the driving force behind the proposed $2 million Morton downtown plaza, which Daly calls the first piece in the village’s downtown revival.
Revenue from a business district sales tax and private donations would be used to fund plaza construction, which could begin next year.
Daly said she was flattered by the encouragement she received to apply to become the Central Illinois CDC’s first CEO, but torn because “I love what I do in Morton, I love the village, and the boards, staff and volunteers I work with are outstanding.”
After she was offered the new job, though, the decision to accept it was easy. Her hiring was announced Sept. 3.
“Typically in my profession, you have to move to advance your career,” she said. “In this case, my family can stay in Morton, and I can continue to help Morton.”
Her husband, Tim, is a case manager with Tazewell County Resource Centers. They have two children, Aidan, 10, and Nora, 7.
The Central Illinois EDC is charged with attracting and keeping businesses in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Mason and Logan counties.
It’s driven by its Focus Forward Central Illinois’ community development strategy.
Central Illinois EDC board Chairman Bill Blessman said he thinks Daly is the perfect person for the CEO job because of her knowledge of economic development and common sense approach to it, and her ability to build partnerships in the public and private sectors.
Daly and longtime Central Illinois EDC employee Sally Hanley have been actively involved the past two years in FFCI’s Technical Work Group.
“Jennifer demonstrated her passion for working on FFCI’s initiatives through her work in the group,” said Diana Hall, FFCI chair.