Should Kankakee County form a “leadership” type umbrella organization with the purpose of building a “good news” atmosphere?

Last week, about 20 community leaders from various groups met at the Wisner School of Nursing at Olivet Nazarene University to discuss the possibility. The consensus was to consider such a possibility by inviting an executive from a similar group — the Denver Forum — to speak here.

This is not a new idea. Good news groups have been formed before. Prominent local banker Merlin Karlock tried to start a leadership under 40 group. There was once a good news speaking group. There was a program to bring in motivational speakers. If you can remember long enough ago, Airport 2000 was designed to build the third Chicago airport. Missed that deadline a bit.

Jeff Bennett, of McColly Bennett Real Estate, makes the point that most of those efforts were designed to get the rock rolling. Now, the stakes are different. Major expansions planned at Nucor Steel and CSL Behring, along with other developments, make it clear that positive change is on the way. More jobs. Really good-paying jobs. More potential business of all kinds are likely. How can the community plan for and benefit most from these changes?

But here are the lessons learned during the years:

• The group needs to have some type of income — from government, from grants, from a fundraiser. When it becomes “here’s what we can do for free” — that runs out of steam.

• In this day and age of the internet, you cannot control negative images or tweets that go viral. It’s like the Dutch Boy trying to plug all the holes in the dyke with his finger.

• Changing or creating an image takes advertising. That also means money.

• Measurable results should be expected. Set a goal. Meet it.

Such a group, cutting across political boundaries and beliefs, makes sense. Once formed, too, it might metamorphose in different directions. But there is no harm, and a lot of potential gain, about considering the future.

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