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Dateline Dixon: Mayor seeks help for small businesses

Citizen survey results not released yet

Mayor Jim Burke is taking steps to make it easier for entrepreneurs and small businesses to succeed.

Nearly a month after the end of the first Dixon Business Competition, Burke sent a letter to 24 area business representatives about setting up a “fund to provide seed capital to promising entrepreneurs” and the “creation of an entrepreneur and small business advisory program or mentoring program.”

Burke invited them to a meeting next week with Lee Crockett, of Venture Advisors, the company that helped the city to organize and run the business competition.

Burke has called the competition a success. He said it put the city in the spotlight as a good place for entrepreneurs, gave a group of small businesses the boost they might need to succeed, and sparked some entrepreneurial interest.

Citizen surveys

The city mailed surveys to all addresses in the 61201 ZIP code last month as part of its strategic planning process.

The surveys were also available on the city’s website.

The results of the surveys, which will be used along with he results of focus groups already conducted, haven’t been released.

Burke said the city plans to meet this week with Sikich, a Naperville-based accounting and consulting company that’s leading the strategic planning, to finalize the process going forward.

It was estimated in June that it could take 6 to 8 weeks for Sikich to compile the results of the surveys and focus groups.

Financial controls review

A review of the city’s financial controls, which will be done by Sikich, is still a couple of months off, Burke said last week.

The city and Sikich are expected to discuss plans for the review soon. The review will look at financial controls that have been implemented since Finance Director Paula Meyer was hired in September 2012 and will make recommendations for changes or additional controls.

Wastewater pilot plant

In April, the City Council was given a presentation about a new technology for wastewater treatment facilities that could turn the city’s wastewater into algae, which could then be turned into oil.

The company, Refinery of America LLC., submitted a proposal to the city, which included a $250,000 investment from the city.

“It’s what you really call a developmental stage idea,” Burke said. “I just don’t see the city stepping out in front and taking the lead.”

Burke sent the proposal out to the City Council last week and asked for comments.

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini covers government and happenings in Dixon. He can be reached at or at 815-625-3600, ext. 5529. Follow him on Twitter: @MattMencarini.

SVM reporter at Books on First today

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini will have "office hours" from 1 to 2 p.m. today at Books on First, 202 W. First St.

Feel free to stop by and let him know what's on your mind. Is there a story in Dixon you think should be reported? Stop by to share or just to say hi.

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