Sauk has a long history of economic development initiatives, consistently supporting training, small business development, and regional economic development. Corporate Training remains a vital outreach, despite the departure of many of the district's major manufacturers. Training is handled by the PPD staff, which facilitates customized training and enrollment in credit courses for area employers. After providing business counseling to entrepreneurs and small businesses for more than 20 years, Sauk’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was closed in FY09 due to a change in grant funding requirements.
Over the years, Sauk’s involvement in regional economic development efforts has shifted from industrial development toward an emphasis on workforce readiness. The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) combines federally-funded job training programs in Illinois into a workforce development system coordinated by Workforce Investment Boards (WIB). Sauk has two WIBs within its district, which have approved 61 of Sauk’s programs for WIA funding. During FY10, when four local employers announced closings, eliminating 750 jobs, WIA funds have been available to assist in retraining. Annually, well over 100 individuals from the district receive training and re-training through these WIA programs (see Figure 5xi). In addition, on average, $150,000 from the WIA partners is provided for training dislocated workers, low income constituents, and youth (see Figure 5xii).