Mentesti honored as he leaves GREDF
4 months, 1 week ago by Bob Gough
Former president honored at annual meeting
A capacity crowd filled the Oakley-Lindsay Center Wednesday evening to honor the retiring president of the Great River Economic Development Foundation, Jim Mentesti.
Mentesti, who spent 27 years with the organization before retiring last year, was overwhelmed with the turnout.
"It's beginning to be what I thought it was going to be," Mentesti said. "Fun at first, but in a matter of minutes, more emotional than I can contain or control. 27 years to do something you love with your friends and for the community...it's been an honor and I want to continue to help give something back if I can."
Mentesti said he hopes to still offer some assistance to whomever succeeds him. He said that person is coming in at an interesting time.
"The thing that's beautiful is when you have as many industrial sites as we have, you can have some that have some shaky times, but there is that reassurance that you get that chance to turn it around," Mentesti said. "I hope, between Phil (Conover, interim GREDF President) and myself and the staff, we can help whoever comes aboard, because it's not an easy time out there right now."
GREDF Board Chairman Tim Finlay mentioned many of the highlights of 2012, which included John Wood Community College getting a $500,000 grant for manufacturing training. Workforce Development has been a recent focus of GREDF.
"Despite current problems in the State of Illinois, we really do believe Adams County is a good place to do business," Finlay said. "During retention visits with area manufacturers, the state of our state and how it affects business continues to be a hot topic. However, when we look beyond Illinois and focus on our region, the fundamental building blocks for economic success remain."
Finlay said Mentesti has "had a postive impact on our region. We want to wish him well in retirement."
Finlay said the search for Mentesti's replacement is moving as scheduled.
"We announced we hoped to have someone in place by early spring and I think we're on track for that," Finlay said. "The Search Committee is meeting regularly. We're pleased with the quality of applicants locally and from around the country."
Mentesti was also honored by Adams County Board Vice-Chairman Mike McLaughlin, Quincy Mayor John Spring and Blessing Corporate Services CEO Brad Billings.
McLaughlin said he has attended statewide meetings with Mentesti and people have said "GREDF is the model for economic development in the state of Illinois."
McLaughlin gave Mentesti a proclamation from the House of Representatives in the state of Illinois.
Spring declared January 9 as "Jim Mentesti Day" and gave him a key to the city. He thanked Mentesti for working with Cullinan Properties to facilitate improvement to their Quincy Mall properties.
Billings, a former GREDF chairman, recognized the other former GREDF chairs and discussed Mentesti's biography and how he came from Chicago to Quincy.