Beloit Memorial High School Principal Emily Pelz, left, speaks to the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation during the group’s annual investors meeting Wednesday morning at the Beloit Public Library. Pelz and other district staff spoke on the School District of Beloit’s career academies aimed at providing students with the necessary tools to find meaningful job opportunities.

BELOIT—Regional partnerships and area growth were key topics discussed at the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation’s Annual Investors meeting held Wednesday at the Beloit Public Library as the area continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Approximately 60 key GBEDC investors and board members met to hear updates on accomplishments made in the last year and to begin the process of selecting new board members heading into 2022. As of November of this year, the GBEDC has a total of 82 investors, five of whom are new investors, who provided $70,162 in revenue to the development organization.

On Wednesday, board members voted Beloit City Councilor Regina Dunkin to be the 2022 chairperson, marking the first time a woman and a person of color has chaired the GBEDC. Board members also voted Fairbanks Morse Chief Human Resources Officer Tim Oswald to serve as the vice chair and Spray-Tek Plant Manager Brian Volbright as secretary and treasurer.

Each year, the GBEDC hosts a guest speaker for the event, with School District of Beloit staff presenting a rundown of the district’s career academy system aimed at equipping students with the skills necessary to find a strong career path.

Each student at Beloit Memorial High School selects a career academy to participate in. The three academies include: Business, Arts Communication and Hospitality (BACH), Health, Human, and Educational Services (HHES) and Automotive, Construction, Manufacturing, Engineering, Science and Public Service (PACEMES).

“Aside from providing the many focused experiences in a specific pathway, the program is also able to build a small learning community for that student so there are multiple adults who student sees consistently to serve as mentors and advocates for them,” said Beloit Memorial High School Principal Emily Pelz.

Representatives for the City of Beloit, Downtown Beloit Association (DBA), City of South Beloit, Town of Beloit and Village of Clinton spoke on successes and challenges faced in the last year as all partners urged one another to continue regional cooperation.

“We truly believe that as all the townships improve and the City of South Beloit improves, so too does the City of Beloit and our greater Rock County area,” said Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther.

Luther touched on key development highlights for the year, including the progression of the Ho-Chunk Nation’s casino-resort project and the Stateline Boys and Girls Club project; the completion of ABC Supply Stadium and finalization of the Interstate 39/90 expansion and improvement project; and the opening of the Lincoln Academy.

Town of Beloit Administrator Tim Wellnitz touted the Alliant Energy Paddock solar energy project that will see construction start next year; completion of the Beloit-Turner School District Garden Prairie Elementary School and the township’s effort to conduct future strategic planning to develop a town center.

Across the southern state line in South Beloit, City Administrator Sonya Hoppes said the city would look to attract future development along the interstate and along the Gardner Street and Blackhawk Boulevard corridors.

This year also saw the continued addition of new industrial tenants to the Gateway Business Park area alongside residential growth.

In 2021, the GBEDC welcomed Spray-Tek as the 17th development in the business park with the ongoing construction of a 75,000 square-foot facility through a $30 million investment. Matthews Family Trucking, also has plans to develop an 8-acre property in the Gateway through a $2 million investment.

This year also marked the 20th anniversary of the business park that has seen 545 acres of land developed in what amounts to 3 million square-feet of developed property building space and created 2,800 jobs as part of $264 million in overall investment in the last two decades.