Galesburg officials talk economic struggles, successes during Obama visit

Jul 25, 2013

Galesburg city leaders say the community was a fitting stop for President Obama to kick-off his new economic focus. The city was the first location in a series of speeches for the President to sell his vision for a thriving economy. Gary Camarano is Galesburg’s Global Strategies Director. He says the city economy was rough in 2004 when Maytag closed and thousands of workers lost their jobs:

“Galesburg’s recession started well before the rest of the nation, but the city was proactive in realizing it had to do something a little bit different. And we revamped our economic development effort.  So in our eyes we stopped the hemorrhaging and we think we’ve made some progress and have actually, in the last three years, helped the private sector create or retain 1,000 jobs,” Camarano says.

Camarano says the city helped former Maytag workers find training to re-enter the workforce. He says a new Small Business Incubator is helping green and renewable start-ups with technical support, trade missions and grants.  

Galesburg also spent two weeks preparing for President Obama’s visit to Knox College. Galesburg was the first stop for the President in a series of speeches focusing on the economy. Galesburg Deputy Mayor Wayne Allen says preparing for a presidential visit is a labor intensive matter: 

“It’s more than just closing off a street.  They do some checks on people and there’s a no-fly-zone put over the city and so there’s a lot of area blocked off around Knox College, and all this has to be policed and patrolled,” Allen says.

Allen says the President’s visit is well-worth the cost. President Obama made multiple trips to Galesburg in the last decade.