As I continue to make the speaking rounds, I’ve gathered a few frequently asked questions, and I’d like to supply some answers in this space.

• Q: How much money is being given/donated by the city of Freeport and Stephenson County to the Greater Freeport Partnership?

• A: City of Freeport provides $450,000, or about half of our budget, and Stephenson County gave $25,000 this year, with an agreement to increase the amount over the next two years. The remaining dollars, or about 40 percent of our budget, is from private business contributions. Please note that half of the city’s contribution is generated by the annual hotel/motel sales tax, which generally comes from visitors to our area. The other half is from Tax Increment Financing district revenue from increased property values in the various TIF Districts in the city. According to state law, the latter money cannot be spent for general city expenses, but using it for marketing and economic development support is permissible.

• Q: What are the stated goals and outcomes for the Greater Freeport Partnership?

• A: The board is in the process of refining these; however, as a reminder, the partnership was formed with the general purpose of supporting the business community. In this arena, activities focused on increasing tourism and increased retention and growth of our existing business through workforce development plans are within the scope of this charge. As part of this work, the partnership will provide a one-stop business portal for business information and new development support. By the end of 2018, the partnership will publish our mission, goals and objectives and will continue to provide frequent updates. In addition, the partnership provides written monthly reports to both the city council and the county board, which are available for review within each governing bodies’ public reports.

• Q: Will the partnership have opportunities for volunteer participation on committees?

• A: Absolutely! As soon as the board determines our focus areas, we will be asking the community to join us. We cannot do our work without volunteers. Of course, the main event committees continue, such as Music on Chicago, Cruise Night and Brewfest, which all run like a well-oiled machine.

Other updates:

Partnership operations: In the last month, we’ve hired a tourism and marketing director, Lou Ann Stambaugh-Hayes, and a business engagement director, Bill Clow. On Sept. 17, Billy George started with us as administrative coordinator.

Events: Since you last heard from me, we’ve had Cruise Night and the annual chamber golf outing. Both events were great successes, with good attendance. Coming up, on , please join us for Tour de Freeport, a family-oriented bike ride along our beautiful Jane Adams Trail (no charge) and Pretzel City Brewfest starting at 1 p.m. in downtown Freeport. The Brewfest is an opportunity to taste over 120 craft beers and features Stephenson County’s brewers, Generations (Freeport), Lena Brewing Company (Lena) and Wishful Acres (Lena), for a general admission price of $30.

Originally published in the Journal Standard.