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DeKalb Mayor Gives An Upbeat Appraisal Of The City

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith has a very positive attitude about his first 100 days in office.

At a Chamber of Commerce event Thursday morning, Smith highlighted a long list of projects begun or continued in the first few months of his administration. 

He also emphasized the beneficial ways DeKalb and Northern Illinois University have worked together and said he would seek more opportunities for collaboration. That includes bringing together NIU and community transit to work as one system. He also cited partnerships with other private, public and educational organizations.  

The mayor was upbeat about the community’s future.

“We’ve got a lot things happening in DeKalb,” he said. “We’ve got a great staff. We’ve got partners who we will continue to engage. So, I feel good about where we’re going as a city.”

Smith was speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event billed as “The State of the City.”  He highlighted several development projects under construction downtown and elsewhere in DeKalb.

“Cornerstone. Plaza DeKalb. We see new restaurants,” he said. ”We’ve got Sundog IT. We’ve got a new brewhouse coming. We’ve got all of the new businesses on the west side of town. We’ve got a lot of things happening out on Sycamore Road.” 

Smith said relations are very good with DeKalb’s neighbor and sometimes rival Sycamore, and called Sycamore’s mayor a personal friend.  Smith also listed the Northwestern Medicine Wellness Center on Bethany Road as a project that showed how DeKalb, Sycamore and the county can work together where needed infrastructure crossed municipal boundaries.  

Smith said efforts continue to improve and expand DeKalb Taylor Airport as a resource for the area.

Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman spoke after Smith. She echoed Smith on how NIU’s partnerships with DeKalb and DeKalb businesses have been good for both. She said NIU and DeKalb both benefit from the many ways students, faculty and business can work together.

Smith also announced at the event that the Illinois Chamber of Commerce is giving the 2016 Target distribution center expansion, which brought 400 new jobs to the city, an Economic Development in Illinois -- or Edie -- Award for outstanding economic development project.

Smith said someone came up to him after his presentation and told him they had never felt so good about DeKalb.  Smith said he was pleased to hear that. He’s excited too. But he knows there’s plenty more work ahead.

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