In community development, strong business offerings, relationships built on partnerships and offering that enrich the quality of life create an environment where people thrive. In short, success begets success. We are feeling the impact of that strategy in Morris as we celebrate the end of 2022 and look ahead to this year.
Residents and visitors to our community responded to the challenge of “shopping small” and “keeping it local” during the holiday shopping season. Your support resulted in strong fourth quarter sales tax figures and many happy business owners, especially in our downtown. Holiday events and increased business travel contributed to overnight stays in Morris hotels. Occupancy rates in our city outpaced many other communities of our size. The Hotel and Motel Tax Fund saw an increase of more than 8% year over year through November 2022.
Hotel and Motel Tax dollars are reinvested annually into our community through marketing and initiatives like grants in support of nonprofit organizations. Applications are now available for charitable, educational and cultural programs and activities that draw visitors to our community and encourage overnight stays in Morris hotels. Grant applications can be found online at morrisil.org/hotel-and-motel-tax-fund-request-for-support.
Events are a key contributor to the vibrancy of our community and we are pleased to see many returning or expanding this year. Fforest Fest, Dulcimer Fest, Rhythm and BBQ Fest, and the Morris Beer Fest all return to Goold Park this summer, with the second annual Holiday in the Park closing out the calendar in December. New this year, the city of Morris will partner with the Morris Area Public Library to offer “Movies in the Park” on the fourth Friday of the month from May through September. A mix of family movies and classics is being carefully selected. Titles and times will be announced on the city of Morris and Visit Morris social media pages.
Downtown will see a full lineup of 5Ks, shopping events and family-oriented activities again this year. The Morris Retail Association kicks off its season with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Shop Lucky event on March 18, followed by a Cinco de Mayo-themed Girls Night out on May 5th, and Rock the Block/Sunday Funday on Liberty Street in June, July, and August. The ever-popular Morris Cruise Night returns will be a full June through October cruise calendar, with each event benefiting a local charity. For a full list of local special events, check out morrisil.org/special-events.
We invite the business community to participate in sponsoring summer activities in Morris. To receive a sponsor package, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-941-3685.
The Business & Community Development Commission has been meeting to think strategically about our local business climate. This seven-person advisory panel appointed by Mayor Brown in fall 2022 is working on Downtown streetscape improvements and dialogue with local business leaders among other topics. They will host a real estate forum for Grundy County commercial realtors later this month at City Hall. Invitations are forthcoming and information will be posted on social media.
Business prospecting remains strong, as the city of Morris team continues to work closely with many local owners and national brands on plans to locate in our community. With strategic and thoughtful planning, we will continue to build on the traits that make Morris so special.
- Julie Wilkinson is the Business Development Director for the City of Morris. Community Pulse is a weekly column that provides a dedicated space for Grundy County-area nonprofits, schools and organizations to share news and information about their organization.