Changes to Village Commissions Reflect Development Priorities

Changes to Village Commissions Reflect Development Priorities

The Village of Northbrook recently moved to restructure its commissions dealing with economic development. Trustees approved amendments to the Municipal Code, creating a new Economic Strategy Commission (ESC) and eliminating the Industrial & Commercial Development Commission. The Economic Development Committee, an ad hoc committee created in 1994 with residents, businesspeople, and representatives of local governmental bodies, has also been disbanded.

In an email to current ICDC and EDC members, Village President Kathryn Ciesla explained the rationale for the reorganization of existing commissions. “The driving factor for a new Commission comes as we approach the start of the third year of the COVID-19 global pandemic,” stated Ciesla. “We recognize that changes in local economies – which we previously anticipated would be implemented in the coming decade – have already been adopted as a temporary response to the pandemic and in many cases are expected to be long lasting changes.  For example, the growth in online shopping and remote work have impacted commuting and office vacancy rates.  Therefore, the Village deems it essential to strategically consider our economic future in new ways.”

The new seven-member commission will be comprised of Village residents or representatives of businesses operating in the Village, each serving a three-year term. Under the Code description, no more than two members should be from the same sector/professional affiliation. Commissioners will be appointed by President Ciesla; application forms can be found on the Village website.

According to its description in the code, the Commission’s role includes recommending steps to achieve “sound economic growth, and a harmonious environment, retention of existing business, and attraction of new business.” Projects may include an economic analysis of incentives for business recruitment and retention; the development of templates to report on future economic trends; and marketing and branding related to the Village’s image in relation to the business community and residents.

Village Manager Cara Pavlicek reiterates that the new ESC is intended as an advisory body to help guide the Village through the transitions of the post-pandemic economy. The impact of remote work, widespread delivery services, and online sales will be some of the trends shaping the business community. Pavlicek cites the proposed transformation of the former Walgreens office campus on Commercial Avenue into a last-mile distribution center as the type of economic development supported by these trends.

“The goal is to see ahead of the curve for how Northbrook needs to pivot and plan,” in this new economy, explains Pavlicek. The ESC will offer a “new set of eyes” in the economic development efforts.