Congresswoman holds local economic roundtable

Several regional economic development executives have told their local Congresswoman there are a number of things that can be done in order to help keep people in the area and give them jobs.

17th District Democrat Cheri Bustos hosted an economic roundtable at Carl Sandburg College featuring leaders from primarily Knox, Mercer, and Henry Counties.

Bustos tells WGIL the “Project Rebound” program which sells rehabbed homes to young people looking to buy their first homes, but may not otherwise be able to do it, is a great idea that needs to be replicated.

“Every place I go around our congressional district there are programs that are innovative and are working. We’ve got to learn from those and spread those good practices all over.”

The East Moline Democrat, who now has two Republicans vying to take her seat from her in next year’s elections, also heard from officials who say despite what you hear, they like living in and working with Illinois, while at least one said Illinois is its own worst enemy, compared to neighboring states.

Bustos says the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised in a long time, and she doesn’t see it happening any time soon.

Bustos was asked by a reporter if that would help, even as news reports today continue to sing the praises of low unemployment rates and what some call a “booming” economy.

The East Moline Democrat, says a higher minimum wage would help, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

“I think the atmosphere in Washington does not lend itself to passing meaningful legislation,” she said. “We’re passing all kinds of really good bills out of the House right now that are sitting in the bottom desk drawer of Mitch McConnel. Everything from making sure that the dark and secret money isn’t anymore legal in the political process, making sure that our elections are fair and we don’t have outside intervention.”

Among the things that economic development leaders told Bustos they’re concerned about: declining population, affordable housing, manufacturing job training, and whether broadband internet access can be expanded to rural communities like theirs.