NIU urged to develop closer ties with county

By Paul Kirk

Republican candidates for the DeKalb County Board are calling on NIU and the county to develop a closer working relationship during the next decade.

“The county needs to find more creative ways to attract business,” said Tim Bagby, a Republican from District 7.

Robert Harris, a Republican from District 5, said that NIU needs to prioritize and clear away the university’s immediate problems.

“Unless you clear off the main problems, you won’t achieve anything,” he said.

Precinct Committeeman Candidate Kevin Hir, a Republican from Precinct 10, said he believes that projects such as the proposed NIU Student Life Center are ill-conceived ideas.

“The students are bearing the cost,” Hir said. “The state asked the university to prioritize. A student life building should be at the bottom of the list.”

Bagby said he agrees that financial stability within NIU is a matter of prioritizing. “Leave the bigger projects for a better day,” he said.

Bagby said although the county board doesn’t have much to do with state money allocated to NIU, a closer relationship between NIU and the board could only be prosperous to both.

“We need to work more closely with NIU to attract white collar business to the area,” he said.

Bagby said he is against projects such as the SLC project, but said academic projects such as Faraday II will help to enhance the economy and the value of the county and NIU.

He said one mechanism which might be beneficial economically to NIU is the stadium and exhibition authority given to the county board.

The authority gives the board the ability to provide for stadiums and arenas which are needed in the area.

Bagby said a cooperative agreement between NIU and the county could be done under the authority to provide for an arena in the future. However, the authority does not include releasing building funds for other uses such as academic building projects.