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Dear Editor:

  Tourism is a major economic engine for our communities that helps build a place where people want to be. If we build a place where people want to visit, we build a place where people want to live. And if we build a place where people live, we build a place where business has to be.   
   As a destination management organization for Madison, Jersey and Calhoun counties, we sincerely believe it all starts with a visit. That visit does not happen without tourism promotion and product development. In 2012, our counties experienced $412 million in tourism expenditures. That impacted our communities and our entire quality of life. As our economies continue to shift toward a retail base, tourism will remain a vital factor for our future successes.
   We are charged with reaching out to travelers to introduce them to our experiences. We also must provide a leadership role in the development of our destination and build products and tools that provide quality experiences for travelers. The Alton region continues to step up its efforts to compete with the rest of the state and builds our destinations, especially along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway that impacts Hartford, Wood River, Alton, Godfrey, Elsah and Grafton. But our efforts go well beyond those lines and beyond the region.
   We have a strong board of directors and a staff who work hard to build our destination and deliver tourism to our communities. Tourism is a big part of economic development. We’re proud to serve as the leaders of this industry for our communities. Experience the ongoing development. Make your plans at

Brett Stawar – President & CEO
Alton Regional
Convention & Visitors Bureau

Dear Editor:

   The debate that recently raged across the country about the rights of gun owners focused, in part, on enforcing the many laws already on the books, and not creating new ones.  
   The situation is analogous to the debate we are having right here in Illinois about our budget and the backlog of bills that businesses in the state are trying to manage.  
   This thought comes amid the proposal for Illinois to borrow approximately $2 billion (see Illinois HB 374) with proceeds earmarked, in large measure, to pay overdue invoices.  
   I applaud the state government’s efforts to bring relief to the businesses in the state.  However, I think we ought to be utilizing the infrastructure in place to manage this program rather than borrowing more.  
   Specifically, the Vendor Payment Program, of which my company is a part, allows vendors to sell their receivables in exchange for 100 percent of the base invoice amount for a 90 percent upfront payment and the remaining 10 percent when the state pays the bill.  
   This program, which was developed with the Comptroller’s Office and Gov. Quinn’s administration, is already up and running. Strapped vendors can get their cash now, rather than waiting for the proceeds from a $2 billion bond offering. Since its launch in January, the program has advanced approximately $100 million to Illinois vendors.
   More debt is probably something none of us needs right now. What we need are the resources to dig ourselves out. Fortunately, this resource is already in place.


Drew Delaney
The Vendor Assistance Program

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