In a bit more than a year, the River Forest Economic Development Commission has made significant progress in moving the village’s economy forward. 

The person tasked with keeping the EDC on track and on target is Tom Hazinski.

The 61-year-old Milwaukee native leads a volunteer panel of diverse professionals with a heavy responsibility: helping realize Village President Catherine Adduci’s goal of diversifying the community’s revenue sources. 

The panel offers guidance, vision and recommendations to the board of trustees. While the role may be daunting, and he sometimes feels the weight of its importance, the commission has met his expectations.

“I’m pleased with the way it’s going and the cooperation from everyone on the EDC,” Hazinski said. “We’ve assembled a quality group. When we put all these minds together in a room, there’s a lot of brainpower in there.”

Lou Vitullo, a commission member, said that Hazinski is moving the group in the right direction. Trustee Susan Conti, who attends many of the meetings, said he is a wonderfully low-key leader who uses the professional capacities of each member to do what’s best for the village. 

Adduci, who also has attended most meetings, said she is impressed with the work of this talented group of individuals.

“The level of discussion and debate is something we could have never accomplished alone at the board table. The EDC provides the trustees with a greater understanding of economic development issues,” she said.

The accomplishments are impressive. And the commission hasn’t had to reinvent the wheel. The panel used the 2010 Corridor Study as its framework for drafting TIF proposals for North Avenue and Madison Street. The panel tweaked, and sent out, a new RFP for village-owned land at Lake Street and Park Avenue. Results of a business survey will help River Forest assess its business climate. 

The groundwork has been laid during the commission’s 90-minute monthly meetings. Much of the commission’s day-to-day work is done by Village Administrator Eric Palm, who Hazinski said is doing a fantastic job. “It seems as though the commission is more supporting him than the other way around,” he said. 

As a public policy consultant working with communities around the country, Hazinski has noticed that cities that have succeeded in economic development have established a vision and worked at it for years. 

“Economic development is not going to happen overnight. It will take sustained leadership and effort. I see River Forest doing that,” he said. 

“We’re fortunate that we’re now in an environment where the economy is improving, and if that is maintained, I think we will be moving forward.”

Join the discussion on social media!

One reply on “2014 River Forest Villager of the Year Runner-Up: Tom Hazinski”