Marcus Westbury, founding director of non-profit group Renew Newcastle, helped revitalize the manufacturing community in Newcastle, Australia. The once thriving city was in the midst of an economic depression when he brought landlords, entrepreneurs, and artists together to transform vacant properties into thriving operational facilities. Kankakee, IL is in a similar situation now. It was once home to employment opportunities, retail, and office space, but fell on hard times when a major steel plant closed in the late 90s. Westbury recently spoke in Kankakee about how his program could benefit the city. Westbury said, “I don’t pretend this fixes all the problems, but instead of waiting for that big company, that big development … this is about going building by building, block by block, and rolling up your sleeves.” Kankakee Mayor Nina Epstein pointed to a similar program, EnterpriseU, a business development academy created by Kankakee Community College and the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County.

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