Friday, March 03, 2006

Elgin nightlife - mission impossible?

“He’s doing a good job, but we’re not ready to relinquish our responsibility to keep tabs on him yet,” said Gilliam, of the club’s owner, David Shelton. “We’re not ready to turn him loose.” (Daily Herald 3/2/06)
I like Bob Gilliam. I've always thought he would make a good mayor. So when I read this it surprised me, because I don't think David Shelton deserves to be spoken of in such terms. He's not something you can leash or turn loose. His business, the Mission, has done more for Elgin's image as a regional city than any other establishment of comparable size.

A dozen cities would be happy to have him. Elgin is privileged to have him here; it's not the other way around. I've never been to the Mission, but I've heard enough times that it's "like a place you'd find in Chicago." I know how important it's been in giving Elgin some credibility as a lively city rather than a closed-at-5:00 pm outpost.

How do entrepreneurs interpret what's been happening in Elgin? They're not fools. They watch what happens to places like Anthony's and Luxur. They note the bizarre rules imposed on Martini Room (no cheap beer is one of them). And now they hear a councilman disparage one of downtown Elgin's most successful entrepreneurs as someone who can't be "turned loose."

When the owner of one of Chicagoland's most successful clubs has to go up for city council review every year and is forced to say:
“I’m always fearful because you never know how the next administration is going to be and how they are going to view it.”
What kind of signal does that send to the entrepreneurs and the investors and the banks that finance them? Who's going to want to risk their money in the City to Watch? It's Happening Here? What is, bankruptcy?


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