Hillsboro City Council made a big investment in the future of the city by hiring Economic Development Intern and Interim Community Planner Jonathan Weyer.
Mr. Weyer is a graduate student at St. Louis University. His field of study is urban and regional planning, much of which he has been self-modifying to fit the unique needs of rural development. Older than the traditional intern, he seems to be tailored to the unique needs of the city. Weyer is a father of three (sons, Colin age 16, Quinn, age 14, and daughter, Emily age ten) who has already had a successful career prior to this new venture. Now in his forties, Weyer spent much of his early adulthood serving as a pastor at churches in Edwardsville and later in Lakeland, FL. He has also had a career as an editor for HarperCollins Publishers.
This recent career move grew from a need to be closer to his children and a calling to become actively engaged in community and environmental development, following his reading of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si' (Be Praised). Unique amongst other encyclicals, it is the only encyclical devoted to environmentalism and rather than being addressed to the bishops of the catholic church, as is common, it is addressed to every person on the planet.
Mr. Weyer took Pope Francis' heed to heart and began his study at St. Louis University with the intention of specifically working in a small town environment.
It was through his graduate program that Mr. Weyer got his first introduction to Hillsboro, in a rather round-about way. He had been actively working with St. Louis Makes, a private non-profit organization with the mission to grow manufacturing revenue and employment across the St. Louis region's manufacturing supply chain. The program's director, Marc Bowers, invited him on a tour of the Atlas 46 factory in Fenton, MO. President, Brian Carver, invited the group to tour his newly opened site in Hillsboro and Mr. Weyer accepted. On the drive to Hillsboro, Weyer and Carver discovered a common interest, both were history buffs with a particular interest in President Abraham Lincoln.
At the same time that Mr. Weyer was discovering Hillsboro, Mayor Brian Sullivan had contacted the head of Weyer's program at SLU, inquiring about possible interns for the city. As most of Mr. Weyer's classmates are specifically interested in the aspect of urban development, his name was first on the list and he jumped at the chance. Hillsboro's unique connection to President Lincoln had drawn in the history enthusiast, as had its small town dynamic. Mr. Weyers hails from a small town in DuBois County, IN, where his family has generationally lived and many members still reside.
Mr. Weyer's primary job description entails developing a five-year comprehensive plan for Hillsboro, which is vital for the growth and attraction of businesses to the city. While Weyer is still learning the city and getting his feel for Hillsboro's culture and residents he is already brimming with ideas about marketing the small-town atmosphere and capitalizing on its existing strengths and potential.
"As I get older I find that I am starting to really appreciate the small town way of life. I really feel like towns like Hillsboro are coming back in popularity. There are so many promising things about Hillsboro and there is already a lot of great development underway," said Mr. Weyer. "It is refreshing to see how many residents are actively engaged in the development of the city. I am excited to see what we will do together."