There may be about 30 miles that separates Morton from Bloomington, but the economic ties the two share may have a far-reaching effect on both communities.

“We’re greater together than we are alone,” state Rep. Keith Sommer, R-Morton, said at the Morton Rotary meeting Thursday. “The success of one sees the success of the other.”

There may be about 30 miles that separates Morton from Bloomington, but the economic ties the two share may have a far-reaching effect on both communities.

“We’re greater together than we are alone,” state Rep. Keith Sommer, R-Morton, said at the Morton Rotary meeting Thursday. “The success of one sees the success of the other.”

Sommer spoke of unification on the economic development forefront of central Illinois and how communities can work together to help better each other. 

Sommer said he remembered when 10 years ago, former Morton Mayor Norm Durflinger was in office and had other area mayors to his house for a friendly visit. Since the event, Sommer said the community’s relationships with each other have increased over the years.

“You build those friendships. It’s easier to say, ‘Hello,’ to a friend,” Sommer said.

“There’s endless opportunity and you have to just start at some place.”

To show interest in this unification, Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner spoke about his first year in office and the changes he is bringing to the city to help develop it further. Renner took office May 1, 2013.

Renner’s background in city and local government stretches back to the ‘80s when he was the director of research for the International City/County Management Association. He still teaches political science at Illinois Wesleyan University.

During a Q&A at the meeting, Renner was asked how he keeps the peace between the cities of Bloomington and Normal.

Communication has been his key factor in keeping ties strong with the Normal. 

“We talk up to 10 times a week now, and our city managers do too,” Renner said.

Communication may also be the key between Bloomington and Morton for economic success in the future.

Morton Mayor Ron Rainson and Renner have already had talks together, and even brought up the possibility of a division of IWU being built in Morton.

“Anytime you can develop that kind of relationship, sometimes you can have the local communities who are real close sort of competing for businesses, but somebody like Bloomington, we don’t compete with them so we can work with them more openly,” Rainson said.

With the change of the guard in Springfield Jan. 12, when Gov. Bruce Rauner took office, Sommer said unification in the state house is also taking shape.

“The atmosphere in Springfield is changing. People are looking at positively trying to address the issues that face us. I think the finger-pointing has been set aside,” Sommer said. “We have to work together and that’s the attitude we have here now and we just want to grow.”