City of Ottawa gets contract reduction with service attracting retailers

Council had interest from retailer before coronavirus pandemic occurred

As the Ottawa City Council looks to conserve money while in the midst of a pandemic, a service designed to help attract retailers will reduce their bill for the year.

The City Council approved a three-year contract with retail recruitment company Buxton in 2019 to compile data analytics and marketing data to attract retailer spaces. They voted to continue that contract at a reduced price during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Commissioner of Accounts and Finance Wayne Eichelkraut said the first year went fairly well and the city has some retail businesses considering the area before the pandemic hit.

The city had the option to back out of a three-year contract of $50,000 per year after the first year, but the service now said it will only charge $25,000 for the second year in light of the pandemic, realizing attracting businesses may be difficult during this time.

Eichelkraut said he remains optimistic about the company and said he’s noticed the company is recognized by the businesses themselves. When he’s contacted companies noting he has information from Buxton that said they’ll be a good fit for the area, he’s been more likely to hear from the companies and get responses.

He also noted the company has done good work in the first year.

“They’ve done a lot of work for us and got a lot of statistics done for us,” Eichelkraut said.

“They’ve been doing a great job for us and the city of Peru,” he added, noting others in the area use the recruiter. “I think it’s a good thing for our future once everything calms down.”

The past two meetings have been live-streamed to the public from the city's website at The first meeting in April went without a hitch but the second suffered some technical difficulties early on. Mayor Dan Aussem addressed the issues on-air and continued with the meeting once the connection was re-established.

In other business

The City Council:

• Approved two agreements
with North Central Illinois Council of Governments to assist in receiving a community block development grant for the city's combined sewer separation project and Rebuild Illinois grant to support a water extension to the Interstate 80 and Route 71 interchange. Aussem said a specific business is not actively planning development there, but there's been interest in the past. He said it would likely be easier to attract a business if water was already extended there.

• Approved a proclamation naming this week as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.