I was in Tuscola, IL giving a talk this week as a follow up to the community’s Boomtown Boot Camp. I love visiting Tuscola, I’ve been there many times in the past few years working on various economic development projects. Tuscola has a lot of great attributes, that each lend to its being an agurb®. First, they have a lot of Can-Do Attitude. Tuscola, with a population of 4,580 and a single paid employee of the Tuscola Economic Development Inc. (TEDI), is one of four national finalists for the FutureGen Coal Gasification project. The community pitched in – county board, city council, mayor and administrator, TEDI, citizen volunteers and many more – and logged a lot of man hours to beat out 8 other communities across the nation to get into the final four. They couldn’t have done it without their can do attitude.
Tuscola also has a great downtown. Their anchor is Flesor’s Candy Kitchen, a great entrepreneurial success that is run by two Tuscola natives returned home. Flesor’s Kandy Kitchen opened in 1901, but closed in the 1970s when Gus Flesor’s family decided they didn’t want to continue. A few years ago Ann Flesor Beck and Devon Flesor Nau, Gus’s granddaughters saw the building was up for sale and new they had to resurrect the candy kitchen. After an 18 month renovation that included reinstalling the original cashier cage, marble soda counter, furnishing and fixtures, the candy kitchen is running strong. They’ve even expanded to a branch sales location and have an internet store. A few of the folks here at Boomtown Institute never pass up the opportunity to visit!
We did our first Boomtown Boot Camp in Tuscola this past spring. The community is chipping in to implement the strategic action plan. They’ve broken the initiatives into divisions, which volunteers will be working on in the coming months. I’m excited to see what Tuscola can accomplish!