After more than a decade of planning, Jim Mamer finally saw his vision come true.
Mamer is the president and co-CEO of Morton Community Bank, which is the anchor for the city's new Levee District.
After more than a decade of planning, Jim Mamer finally saw his vision come true. Mamer is the president and co-CEO of Morton Community Bank, which is the anchor for the city's new Levee District. Fondulac Banking Center, a division of Morton Community Bank, is located inside Clock Tower Place, which opened after a ribbon cutting Thursday on a blustery afternoon. Clock Tower Place, a three-story, 54,000-square-foot brick building, also houses Heinold Banwart, Winter Insurance and the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce. During the opening ceremony, Mamer said there were multitudes of people that made the project possible. “I can't tell you what a moment this is,” he said. Mamer thanked the city fathers, both current and past, for their leadership. “I just want to say it's their vision. They stuck it out. They formed TIF Districts when it was something new. The formed enterprise when it was something new, but they've always been friendly to business and that's what's really driven this whole Levee District,” Mamer said. Mamer further tooted East Peoria's horn by talking about other past developments. “Why wouldn't you think this would happen with somebody that turned a gravel pit into EastSide Centre, turned a marsh area in the river into condos and the marina, turned an unused riverfront into Par-A-Dice, turned a Cilco ash pile into Bass Pro and others, and when the railroads closed, they made trails, and turned a tank farm into the Embassy Suites. They turned a brownfield into the Levee District,” he said. The brownfield site formerly housed Caterpillar factories on about 88 acres. “I think for the 100 years and the many thousands of jobs, and employment they created, it's sort of unique now that there's another legacy that the ground that they have is going to create more jobs and more economic driving,” Mamer said. Remarks were also made by East Peoria Mayor Dave Mingus, East Peoria Chamber of Commerce Director Rick Swan, State Rep. Mike Unes and Art Anliker of Heinold Banwart. Unes said he was a bit biased because he worked at Heinold Banwart, certified public accountants, for almost 11 years. Unes said he was happy to be at the event. He originally didn't think he would be able to make it. “We were in Springfield this morning and, luckily, Mike Madigan adjourned in time for me to get here,” Unes joked. “I'm so proud of my hometown. There's been so many great developments,” he said. “This is just really special for me to be a part of this. I'm just really happy for Morton Community Bank, the Fondulac Banking system, for Winter Insurance, for the chamber and for Heinold Banwart.” Unes said the pairing of Fondulac Bank and Heinold Banwart in one building was a good one. “When you talk about Fondulac Bank and Heinold Banwart — two companies that do so much for this community, two companies that give back in so many ways to this community — their fingerprints are on more things in this entire region than any of us will ever imagine — so I can't think of two companies to be in this building better than Fondulac Banking System and Heinold Banwart,” Unes said. Art Anliker of Heinold Banwart added they were excited to be a part of the new development. “This is a real exciting time and a new chapter for us. We think the building is absolutely beautiful. The bank has been absolutely wonderful to work with,” Anliker said. Swan echoed those comments. “We couldn't be prouder to be inside the building. ... We had a tour of the state chamber folks. They were just amazed at what's here, amazed on the other side of the river and what's going on here. We should all be proud of what we're doing together and to keep going forward.” Mingus thanked the businesses for staying in East Peoria. He especially thanked Morton Community Bank. “We just can't take our hats off enough to you as a city. Most folks don't know that much of this development was actually due to the fact of the promise of Morton Community Bank being here. It was 12 years ago, they said they were going to be here. ... This Levee District is truly here because of Morton Community Bank. Even though Morton Community Bank is housed in East Peoria as far as this beautiful facility, let's not forget the regional impact you all have on this entire area,” Mingus said.