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  Lenzi, Raymond C.
NameRaymond C. Lenzi
Address422 Raven Lane
Makanda, Illinois 62958, United States
Website [Link]
Born Unknown
Last Modifedev
Apr 03, 2021 11:35am
InfoBorn to first generation Italian immigrant son of an Italian coal miner and farmer and a mother whose roots go back to Plymouth Rock where ancestors arrived first in 1635. Grew up with happy childhood in small town playing sports and hunting and fishing. Liked school and playing football, basketball and baseball. Voted Prom King.

Arrived at SIU in 1964, the year the year the Arena opened. Saw Walt Frazier play first Varsity game! Served in Student Senate sophomore year Spent summers working in Peabody Coal mine as United Mine Worker (UMWA) Learned value of hard physical and mechanical work. I earned enough money in the summer to pay for college! Was elected Student Body President my senior year where I became a student leader and critic of the war in Vietnam.

While in my 20’s, with a couple of others in Union County, Illinois, the first two licensed preschool and daycare centers: Sunrise Preschool and Su Casa Preschool. Both are still in operation nearly 50 years later. During this time I also finished a Master’s degree in Community Development and a Ph.D. in Economic Geography while serving as Director of the federally funded University Year for Action program; a campus-based VISTA program.

While finishing my Ph.D. dissertation, I worked as a Community and Economic Development agent for the University of Wisconsin. On completion of Ph.D. I became a tenured professor of Community Development and Rural and Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri (Columbia). I worked on Community Economic Development projects throughout the state of Missouri, including existing business retention and expansion, industrial expansion, downtown revitalization, and tax increment financing (TIF). I came back to SIU to marry my wife now of 25+ years (Maggie Flanagan, the joy of my life) and to be with my daughter from a previous marriage. I have always loved southern Illinois, the Shawnee Forest, and SIU!

While service as Director of the SIU Office of Economic Development I founded the SIU Research Park, a high-tech hub focusing on turning SIU student ideas into southern Illinois enterprises. I oversaw the SIU Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Center for Rural Health and Social Services, the SIU Business Incubator, and was one of the two founders of the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC) which has provided tens of millions of dollars of engineering and business services to hundreds of Illinois manufacturers. During those years, I helped to increased grant and contract funding by five million dollars a year while overseeing tens of millions in successful loan financing for hundreds of enterprises. I wrote the legislation for the Illinois Grape and Wine Council which jumpstarted the Illinois Winemaking business. When we started there were 4 wineries in the state. There are now over 200. We also started River-to-River Residential (now “The Journey”), the largest provider of assisted living services on the state of Illinois. Starting with absolutely no money, we leveraged a $50,000 grant from the Robert Wood Foundation and started the nation’s first (an Illinois project with the Federal Government) low and moderate income assisted living facility. This non-profit company, of which I am Chair of the Board of Directors, now has over 70 million dollars in real property, 300+ residents, 200+ employees, and an annual budget of 12 million dollars. Our candidacy represents an opportunity for economic and business expansion in the district, as most of my career has been about linking federal and state financing resources with local private capital through financial instruments such as tax credits, bonds, TIF, loan guarantees, and so on. We believe we can make some good things happen for the economy of Illinois 12th District

While at SIU I also served as CEO of the SIU Foundation, an institution now holding assets of $200 million. My experience in business development and finance is a clear advantage. It’s an advantage we are promoting as a Congressman that can play a vital role in community and economic development and promotion within our region.


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  11/03/2020 IL District 12 Lost 39.57% (-20.86%)
  03/17/2020 IL District 12 - D Primary Won 50.34% (+0.68%)