PRESS

In The News

GROWTH appreciates its partnership with the Carroll County Mirror-Democrat. Located in Mount Carroll, this locally-owned newspaper has been in the same family for over 40 years. We are proud to have such a strong community tie.

GROWTH understands what it means for a community to want their beloved campus transform. We also know how the community suffered watching it fall into deterioration year after year. We understand people have their apprehensions, and want to be reassured that things are moving forward. That is why our partnership with the Carroll County Mirror-Democrat is vitally important. They are the means in which we communicate in a cohesive and transparent way.

Shimer Square’s redevelopment will not be overnight. It will take a long time to get where we need to be. This is where GROWTH intends to keep its timeline of stories published by the Carroll County Mirror-Democrat throughout its redevelopment period.

The most important things to GROWTH is to (1) bring Shimer Square back to life to its highest and best use; (2) have the community support us, (3) share our efforts with their friends and family; and (4) be a part of the campus revitalization by supporting businesses that open there, supporting the housing that is developed there, and continue using the campus as part of the community fabric that it has always been. We are so very thankful for our partnership with the Mirror-Democrat, who will be there right along with us, every step of the way, to help share in the Shimer Square redevelopment story.

Articles re-posted with permission by the Mount Carroll Mirror-Democrat. 

What will happen to the Campbell Center campus?

March 29th, 2018

With the closing of the sale of the International Preservation Studies Center (IPSC) to Highland Community College set for this week ...

Quad Cities-area developer interested in Campbell Center

July 26, 2018 

A Campbell Center official said Monday, July 23, that discussions with a Quad Cities-area developer interested in acquiring the ...

Economic Growth plans to revitalize Campbell Center

December 12th, 2018

Mount Carroll is getting an early Christmas present. Brian Hollenback, CEO and president of the Economic Growth ...

Plans for former college campus moving forward

January 29th, 2018

Plans for the Campbell Center property in Mount Carroll, including the possible return of Mayfest to the campus, are moving forward ...

What will happen to Campbell Center campus?

March 29th, 2018

By SAMANTHA PIDDE


With the closing of the sale of the International Preservation Studies Center (IPSC) to Highland Community College set for this week, representatives of the Campbell Center Board and the city of Mount Carroll sat down last week to discuss what will happen to the vacant campus.

Campbell Center attorney John Cox of Galena along with board representatives Russ Simpson and Chuck Wemstrom, both of Mount Carroll, attended a Thursday, March 22, meeting at City Hall to discuss the process of Campbell Center closing and what will happen to the campus.

Cox said that for years the Campbell Center Board struggled unsuccessfully to find ways to fund the center, which provided training in historic preservation. Even after the loss of a $250,000 federal grant, the board kept the school going as long as possible.

"But in the end, there is no money to maintain the campus," Cox said.

He said that not including the mortgage on Sawyer House, located just west Metcalf Hall, the board currently is more than $75,000 in debt. This includes last year's salaries for teachers at the IPSC, who will be the first to be paid. The sale of the school (IPSC) to Highland will bring in $50,000."

So the people who are owed money will never get paid?" asked Ald. Mike Risko asked.

Risko said that when he served on the Campbell Center Board, they had almost closed, but had said they would not fold while owing money to anyone.

Risko asked why Campbell Center is doing so and Cox confirmed that the board plans to pay creditors at least a portion of what they are owed.

"Obviously the creditors will not be paid in full," Cox said.

When asked by Ald. Jeff Elliott if the board is not "liable," Cox explained that while they are liable, the corporation has no assets, so any action taken against it would be fruitless.

Once proper steps are followed, the corporation will eventually be dissolved to the point it will no longer exist. However, Mount Carroll city attorney Ron Coplan said the corporation cannot dissolve until something is decided on the ownership of the campus.

Cox said that ultimately, the campus will most likely fall to the city.

"It's a tough bullet to bite, I'm sure," Cox said.

City representatives asked Simpson about a possible buyer he mentioned at the March 13 city council meeting. Simpson revealed that an individual purchased the tax debt for some of the county property taxes that were unpaid. (That individual is a man from Jo Daviess County who operates a tax-buying business.)

Simpson said there was another potential buyer, but he felt that offer did not appear legitimate.

"It's a huge liability and no one in private enterprise is going to do anything," said Coplan about the possibility of a campus buyer, adding the buildings are not salvageable. There are around a dozen buildings on the 14-acre campus.

Coplan said too many municipalities have become the "court of last resort" for derelict properties. "It's the unfortunate reality of things," he noted..

Simpson maintained that the campus still has marketable value as a developable asset, but Risko disagreed, calling it a "negative asset." Coplan said the campus will be an "unattractive nuisance."

"The campus is worth what someone is willing to pay for it," Simpson said.

Wemstrom said the city and the Campbell Center Board need to resolve this as quickly as possible. He pointed out that the longer it takes city to do due diligence, the worse issues such as the grass and other maintenance will become. He said that in waiting, the city would just be "compounding problems."

However, Coplan and Risko contended the city cannot simply rush into a decision. They both felt there needed to be town hall meetings for the public to voice opinions and serious discussions on the matter.

"We can't just jump in, "Risko said.

Wemstrom said he and Simpson went to Mayor Carl Bates with the issue in November, and that the mayor has been trying to get the council to agree on some action, but the aldermen have been resisting.

Risko said he disagreed with Wemstrom’s statement. An update on the Campbell Center has been on the council's agenda for months. However, at several meetings, the mayor has reported little or no information and he said at the Feb. 13 meeting that Simpson was supposed to attend, but he did not.

Coplan said that what is being asked of the city (to take over the campus) "amounts to a monstrous responsibility" that could potentially cost millions of dollars.

"That's not something that's taken lightly," Coplan said. "It's not something that can be dealt with casually, informally, unofficially or cheaply."

Risko asked Cox to prepare a written request from the Campbell Center Board for the city to consider at its next meeting, which Cox agreed to do.

Quad Cities-area developer interested in Campbell Center

July 26th, 2018

By SAMANTHA PIDDE


A Campbell Center official said Monday, July 23, that discussions with a Quad Cities-area developer interested in acquiring the campus will move forward this week.

Campbell Center, previously known as Shimer College, is a 14-building, 14-acre property on the southern edge of Mount Carroll. Campbell Center was renamed the International Preservation Studies Center (IPSC) in 2016.

With the sale of the IPSC to Highland Community College in late March, the campus closed. At that time, the center's attorney, John Cox of Galena, said there was no money to maintain the campus. Any functions at the Campbell Center, such as Mayfest, were canceled.

Mount Carroll Mayor Carl Bates reported at the July 10 city council meeting that a letter of intent has been drawn up for a group to purchase or take over the Campbell Center property within 90 days. The Campbell Center remains an agenda item at each council meeting.

During a July 23 telephone interview with the Carroll County Mirror-Democrat, Cox confirmed that he and other Campbell Center representatives currently are in talks with a developer from the Quad Cities that is potentially interested in transforming the campus into a “mixed use facility.”

While he would not identify the interested developers, Cox did say they were "the best group we could possibly be working with."

He added that he is trying to be as "careful and respectful" of the developer's needs and privacy during the discussions.

Cox expressed hope that the meetings this week will answer some of the questions and allow them to have a much better sense of the interested party's plans for the property.

He noted that while he is encouraged by what he has seen so far, no plans have been finalized."This week will help us move much closer to a time when they can take over," Cox said.

Economic Growth plans to revitalize Campbell Center

December 12th, 2018

By SAMANTHA PIDDE


Mount Carroll is getting an early Christmas present.

Brian Hollenback, CEO and president of the Economic Growth Corporation, in Rock Island, told The Mirror-Democrat Monday afternoon, Dec. 10, that he expects his company to take ownership of the vacant Campbell Center campus and all its buildings before the end of the week.

In a telephone interview Monday, Hollenback said his corporation plans to convert Sawyer House, the two-story brick residence that sits just inside the iron gates across from Metcalf Tower, into its local administration office as well as for multi-use purposes.

He added that Sawyer House, built in 1926, may be utilized by developers who need to stay in the area overnight. By late summer 2019, Economic Growth Corp. plans to begin work on developing two buildings on the eastern edge of the campus for residential housing purposes.

He said that not including the mortgage on Sawyer House, located just west Metcalf Hall, the board currently is more than $75,000 in debt. This includes last year's salaries for teachers at the IPSC, who will be the first to be paid. The sale of the school (IPSC) to Highland will bring in $50,000."

The question of what would happen to the property has weighed on the minds of Mount Carroll officials, board members and citizens since the Campbell Center Board of Directors formally disbanded in late 2017.

Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies was established in 1979 on the site of Shimer College, which was founded in 1853 as the Mount Carroll Seminary and then became affiliated with the University of Chicago and was renamed the Frances Shimer Academy in 1896. It was renamed Shimer College in 1950 and operated as a four-year liberal arts college. The college left Mount Carroll in 1978 for Waukegan due to declining enrollment and financial difficulties.

Campbell Center (later renamed as the Illinois Preservation Studies Center, or IPSC) was founded as a small center for historical preservation training. It evolved to be a training organization for museum professionals, librarians, archivists, conservationists and historic preservationists.

After the IPSC program was sold to Highland Community College last March, representatives from the Campbell Center Board reported the campus would be closing. During a March 22 meeting, the Mount Carroll City Council heard that following the loss of a $250,000 federal grant, the board kept the school going as long as possible. However, debts eventually became too much.

At that time, Campbell Center Attorney John Cox reported that there was more than $75,000 in debt (not including the mortgage for the Sawyer House). The sale to Highland Community College brought in approximately $50,000.

Since then, much discussion has been held on what would happen to the historic 14-acre property. Initially, the City of Mount Carroll was asked if it wanted to take over the campus. However, more than one member of the city and the council expressed concerns about shouldering such a responsibility and liability. The city did take on the responsibility of keeping the property mowed this spring and summer.

For the past few months, Cox and Mayor Carl Bates have reported that a Quad Cities developer had shown interested in taking ownership of the property.

Last Friday, Dec. 7, Cox officially confirmed that the Economic Growth Corporation of Rock Island, had asked him to draw up a deed for the property. He expected the transfer of the title to either happen later that day or earlier this week.

"It looks like we've got it finalized, which is wonderful," Cox told The Mirror-Democrat.

The Galena attorney said the resolution was a "long time coming,” emphasizing that the Campbell Center Board appreciated everyone's patience during the "difficult" process.

Cox expressed excitement regarding Economic Growth Corporation taking over the property, adding that the corporation has a good reputation and a great deal of experience rehabilitating properties.

"I think there's every reason to believe this is going to work out," Cox said.

Hollenback explained Monday, that he first heard of the issues facing the Campbell Center through an architect who introduced him to Cox. He also had an employee, Amy Clark, (formerly Amy McColley) who graduated from Mount Carroll High School in 1995, who was familiar with the Campbell Center.

"The stars just kind of aligned," Hollenback said.

He then began working with Cox and Mayor Bates on a possible project. He said both men were "fantastic to work with."

After learning more about the campus' history and walking through the property, Hollenback said he knew the Campbell Center would be a great location for an economic growth project.

"You walk on that campus, you just know that good things need to happen there," Hollenback said.

Mayor Bates expressed excitement about the transfer moving forward. He said he planned to give an update on the title transfer at the Tuesday, Dec. 11, council meeting.

The mayor said that it is "an exciting time," to see such a development group take on this 14-acre property.

"It's a huge, huge burden off the shoulders of the city," Mayor Bates said.

Cox added that he hopes Economic Growth Corporation has "great success" with the project.

"It's a big, big project," Cox said.

According to the corporation's website, Economic Growth Corporation (GROWTH) is "a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the overall image and economic vitality of underserved communities.

"This is accomplished by improving housing market dynamics, providing fair and equal housing access, encouraging home ownership, providing homeownership counseling, foreclosure prevention counseling, creating jobs, and growing the tax base."

GROWTH is regarded as a national leader in developing innovative housing opportunities and commercial developments by facilitating community partnerships," stated the website.

Last Thursday, Dec. 6, Hollenback visited the Campbell Center, along with other members of the team planning to work on the project.

Hollenback said he is looking forward to developing the campus in a number of ways and stated that they plan to hold more than one community meeting to address plans for the property.

He added that he also hopes to see Mayfest return to the Campbell Center and is willing to work with organizers to make that a reality. Mayfest was held for 37 consecutive years on the Campbell Center campus, starting in 1982 through 2017.

Hollenback joined the Economic Growth Corporation in 1998 and became president and CEO in June 2008. Under his senior leadership, the organization has evolved into an $80 million, multi-faceted entity.He oversees the direction of five companies, which include national for-profit and not-for-profit economic development entities: CDC (Community Development Corporation), CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution), CDE (Community Development Entity), and a national Property Management Company.

Since 2008, Economic Growth Corporation has deployed nearly $300 million of capital, created 263 downtown housing units, impacted 1,271 single family homes in northwestern Illinois, and helped welcome nearly 800 homebuyers into northwestern Illinois, including Sterling, Galena and Fulton.

The corporation and its subsidiaries have helped create and support more than 4,500 jobs throughout Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Florida.

Plans for former college campus moving forward

January 29th, 2018

By SAMANTHA PIDDE


Plans for the Campbell Center property in Mount Carroll, including the possible return of Mayfest to the campus, are moving forward.

Three deeds were filed at the Carroll County Courthouse Monday, Dec. 31, transferring ownership of the campus and all of the buildings, from the Campbell Center Board and the Savanna-Thomson State Bank (which held a mortgage on the Sawyer House) to the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation.

The Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation, a not-for-profit economic development entity dedicated to "enhancing the overall image and economic vitality of underserved communities," has been looking into taking over the Campbell Center (formerly Shimer College) campus for the past several months.

The corporation's president and CEO, Brian Hollenback, told the Carroll County Mirror-Democrat in December that he knew the campus would be a great location for an economic growth project.

Mayor Carl Bates issued a statement on the property transfers being completed, saying the city of Mount Carroll, as well as all of northwest Illinois "received a blessing for Christmas and looking into the New Year with the transfer of the Campbell Center.”

The mayor continued, saying, "I would like to thank the STSB (Savanna-Thomson State Bank) for their willingness to make a smooth transition to Economic Growth Corporation, the people of Mount Carroll for their continued support of this Campus, the City employees who had to endure the mowing and clean up, the numerous volunteers and volunteer groups that made several work days of picking up sticks and keeping watchful eyes on the Campus property, and the Campbell Center Board for not walking away and leaving the Campus to the City of Mount Carroll.”

Since 2008, the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation has deployed nearly $300 million of capital, created 263 downtown housing units, impacted 1,271 single family homes in northwestern Illinois, and helped welcome nearly 800 homebuyers into northwestern Illinois.

The corporation and its subsidiaries have helped create and support more than 4,500 jobs throughout Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Florida.

Friday afternoon, Jan. 4, Hollenback reported on plans to have the gas turned back on at the Sawyer House sometime this week. The corporation plans to utilize the Sawyer House as an office, as well as a place for administrators and contractors to spend the night while working on Phase I of the development project.

At the Dec. 11, city council meeting, Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation Construction Director Andrew Fisher speculated that the development of the property could be broken into five or more phases and span seven or more years. Phase I is expected to begin in late summer of 2019, with the development of two buildings on the eastern edge of the campus for residential housing purposes.

However, Hollenback said Friday, that while preliminary plans for Phase I are being developed, the corporation's "primary focus" will be bringing Mayfest back to the campus.

"Mayfest will be back at the Campbell Center," Hollenback said.

The annual music and arts and crafts festival was canceled in 2018 due to the closing of the campus and the relocation (sale) of the Illinois Preservation Studies Center (IPSC) to Highland Community College in March. Hollenback said last week that he has already begun working with members of the new Mayfest committee for this year's festival."

I want to be very supportive for Mayfest," said Hollenback, adding "I think that's significant for the community."

Hollenback was thankful for all of the assistance he has received from the Campbell Center Board and the city on the acquisition of the property. Campbell Center attorney John Cox, who prepared the deed documents, said he was happy to see the transfer happen before the start of the new year.

"It's a good day," Cox said, adding that on behalf of the Campbell Center Board of Directors, everyone is pleased to see the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation take over the campus."

Hopefully it will lead to some significant growth and economic development in Mount Carroll," Cox said.

Mount Carroll Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Elliott expressed excitement over the transfer of the Campbell Center properties to the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation.

"This is a win-win-win for Mount Carroll," Elliott said.

He added that before this acquisition, it was "pretty dire" for the Campbell Center. The Mount Carroll City Council (of which Elliott also is an alderman) heard on March 22 that the Campbell Center had lost a $250,000 federal grant. While the board kept the school and campus going as long as possible, by that time debts had became too much.

Elliott added that the Chamber is ready and willing to work with the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation and give it any help needed to ensure plans go through.

"Long-term, it's going to affect Mount Carroll in so many positive ways," Elliott said.

Hollenback said the corporation hopes to host public meetings on Phase I of the project once preliminary plans are finished. He added that he plans to provide information about the corporation and the project during the Mayfest event.

Hollenbeck added that the corporation also is working on an extension for the arboretum at the campus.

leo. vulputate, facilisis id vel, dapibus sed ante. amet,