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Springfield native returns to lead DSI

Carlos Ortega
Carlos Ortega

Downtown Springfield Incorporated has hired a new executive director. Carlos Ortega, who grew up in Springfield, will take over Feb. 1.

Ortega, who spent time working for the Illinois Senate and in the Peace Corps, most recently served as director of Elevate CCIC, a business development organization in Mattoon.

"It's an honor returning to my hometown," Ortega said. "I look forward to making a positive impact on the lives of our citizens, small businesses and community organizations that have called, or will call, Springfield home."

He replaces Kayla Graven, who spent two years in the role, but left last year.

Downtown Springfield Inc. is a nationally accredited Main Street organization. DSI lists its mission as being dedicated to creating and supporting a vibrant neighborhood through collaboration, creativity, and leadership.

DSI President Blake Pryor, in a statement released to the media, said Ortega "brings many years of leadership and vision in his career that will benefit the organization and our members."

Ortega said he is excited by what is already happening, pointing out events like the Levitt Amp Music Series, the Old Capitol Farmer's Market and programs like Momentum on Main Street.

Ortega said his experience in Mattoon will help him in Springfield. "Over the past four years, I've created and helped support 20 new small businesses. In order to create a thriving downtown and thriving community, we have to create opportunities for entrepreneurs to grow."

"I am eager to bring the lessons I've learned throughout my journey and turn them into opportunities for growth and prosperity," he said. "I look to grow the community and support the development and inclusion of anyone wanting to make Springfield a better place to live."

Michelle Eccles anchors NPR Illinois' Morning Edition. Michelle has more than 30 years of experience in broadcasting which all began at her high school radio station, Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor, Illinois. She attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale for her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a focus in Radio Television and went on to become an award winning anchor and reporter for stations in Decatur and Springfield.
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