2005 Alumni Award Winner
Major: Political Science
Steve McClure '79 has had a long career in Illinois government and, later, in
economic entrepreneurship. He credits his "Knox Connection" with helping
shape the course of his life, a favor he has paid forward to dozens of other
Knox graduates during his many years working in the Illinois political arena.
McClure admits that he wasn't the best student while at Knox, saying that he "didn't put in the effort until the last minute for practically every class." But he enjoyed his time on campus and ended up majoring in political science because of a deep interest in politics. Robert Seibert '63, Robert W. Murphy Professor of Political Science, put McClure in contact with Bruce Stratton '61, who was working as a legislative liaison for former Illinois Governor James R. Thompson.
This was the "Knox Connection" that shaped the rest of McClure's career. Stratton helped him get an interview for the then-new Governor's Executive Fellowship Program. He was accepted and a few months later became the governor's director of boards and commissions and was put in charge of the governor's summer internship program.
In addition to his work with boards and commissions, he has also served as the director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, where he played a major role in a variety of Illinois economic development projects, including one near his hometown of Moline, Illinois.
He says that the project in Moline is one of his most notable achievements because it had the most dramatic impact on the economic area. "A burned out downtown factory area was transformed with more than $200 million in new public and private investment," he explains, "which has caused the creation of hundreds of jobs in the Quad City area."
McClure continues his work on local and statewide development projects as president of two consulting firms. In 2010, the Illinois Development Council (IDC) named him the organization's Distinguished Economic Developer of the Year. "Steve has been a true leader in economic development for almost three decades," said IDC Chairman Marty Vanags. "From the time Steve was named the youngest director in the history of the Illinois Department of Commerce thru his continued work in development across the state, there have not been many legislative issues or policies of significance developed nor major job creation and investment projects completed without his assistance."
McClure has not only assisted in statewide economic development, but has recruited dozens of Knox graduates to along the way. "I am now part of the 'Knox Connection,' and I take this responsibility seriously," he says. "The 'Knox Connection' has been a part of my career from start to finish."