The 11th annual One Voice contingent of McLean County elected officials, business, social service and education leaders is preparing to head to Washington, D.C.
About 35 people will begin meeting as early as tomorrow night with federal office holders, staff and agency heads. The Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council leads the delegation.
Mike O'Grady, EDC Vice President, said during Sound Ideas, this year's visit will include a request for more time before the Federal Aviation Administration boots youth soccer teams off airport property.
"We need a little more time," said O'Grady. "We'll be talking to our congressional members who'll be talking to the FAA (asking) 'can you give us more time?' A year from now we won't have a place for 3,000 young people and their parents to play soccer."
O'Grady said there have been solid efforts from community members to develop new soccer fields but nothing's yet come to fruition. There is a current effort by a Peoria-based developer to locate a $16 million multi-sport complex on Bloomington-Normal's west side that could serve as a future location. But O'Grady said that would be years away, if it were approved right away.
"If we could break ground tomorrow, it would take three years before we actually had facilities ready," he added. "
In addition to a request for more time for soccer fields, the One Voice contingent will focus on recent past asks, such as the McLean County criminal justice and mental health collaboration program, a STEM curriculum development and funding to finish a south side transportation corridor in south Bloomington.
O'Grady cautioned this year's trip is being made under different circumstances. He said no one is quite sure what kind of results could be yielded because it's unknown how the Trump Administration will view the requests.
"We'll be talking to individual cabinet departments, and for example, there is currently (no one to report to) at the Department of Labor. We just don't know what type of (grant) programs might be available," O'Grady added.
The first One Voice trip in 2007 focused on efforts to get federal funding for four projects--Normal's Multi-modal center which developed into the current Uptown Station, a workforce development center at Heartland Community College, a McLean County Business Incubator, and the Bloomington Cultural District.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.