As early as March 2000 the REDCO Board of Directors began considering the merger of all Williamson County economic development organizations under the REDCO umbrella. The initial impetus was enhanced because of the indication that SIU Carbondale might be interested in transferring ownership of more than 100 acres of the former site of the Vocational-Technical Institute to the organization for use in attracting economic development to the area. The VTI property is south of Carterville on old Illinois Highway 13 and adjacent to the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. A board committee formed to research the issue recommended that the organizations merge to facilitate the transfer of the VTI property and gain other more immediate benefits as a result of the merger.
By December 2000 REDCO reached a formal agreement with the City of Herrin and the Herrin Chamber of Commerce for both to formally become a part of REDCO, enhancing REDCO’s reputation as a countywide economic development organization. Soon afterward, the City of Carterville and the Carterville Chamber of Commerce formally committed financial support in order to become a part of REDCO.
Trustees of the Williamson County Airport Authority showed their commitment to the countywide effort by signing an agreement by which REDCO would market and promote the considerable amount of airport acreage available to be leased for economic development in exchange for an annual development fee payable to REDCO.
At the March 2001 board meeting a resolution was passed to allow any Williamson County community interested in participating in REDCO’s countywide economic development efforts to become a partner in the organization by making a proportional annual contribution to its operation. By this time REDCO partners included: the cities of Carterville, Herrin and Marion; the Williamson County Board of Commissioners; the three Chambers of Commerce in Carterville, Herrin and Marion; and the Williamson County Airport Authority by virtue of its marketing agreement.
In May of 2004 the City of Johnston City became a partner in REDCO, bringing the total of contributing partners to nine. Although other towns and villages in the county have yet to become full-fledged partners, interest has been expressed and overtures have been made to involve these smaller communities so that REDCO can be more truly representative of the entire region of Williamson County.
During this same time frame the REDCO Board of Directors took action to change REDCO from a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization to a 501(c)(3) charitable not-for-profit organization, making individual and corporate financial contributions to REDCO tax deductible for the donor. REDCO established a special Capital Development Fund for such contributions.