The Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council’s new CEO says his first plan of action is to work on business retention and expansion.
Patrick Hoban has been on the job just over two weeks. He said the work starts with interviewing local businesses, “Finding out if they’re in growth mode, if not, what are the barriers so we get them out of the way. If they’ve got suppliers and buyers, can we move them closer?”
Hoban said once the focus shifts to workforce quality of life, he will start looking at which businesses to attract to the area.
“There’s some people that won’t come down here unless there’s a Trader Joe’s,” he said. “I mean, everyone’s looking for certain perks and certain companies and if they’re not here, we’re not going to get them. So it’s really us against Chicago right now. So mixing in some of that to bring that down I think will help.”
He calls the job a “game of relationships.”
Hoban comes to Bloomington-Normal from Tinley Park, a village in the Chicago suburbs, where he was the economic development manager. He said that experience will help him attract businesses to the Twin Cities.
“I already have relationships with developers out of Chicago, so I want to be bringing them down for familiarization tours,” he said. “When they get here, I want the public to know, ‘Hey, we’ve got somebody important in town, you know, put on your best face and we’re all going to sell this thing together.’”
That openness is a thread of Hoban’s economic development philosophy.
“I don’t want anyone in the public or anyone on our board to ever ask, ‘What are you guys working on?’ Everyone is going to know what industries are interested, what the challenges are, and what we can all do to work together to fix them,” he said.
Hoban replaces former CEO Kyle Ham who left the organization in April of last year. Vice President Mike O’Grady served as interim CEO until his retirement this summer.
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