- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CAIRO, Ill. (AP) - The long-struggling Ohio River city of Cairo (KEHR’-oh) wants to rejuvenate its economy, and it is asking for its residents’ help in the taxpayer-funded effort.

The 2,800-resident city announced Monday it is teaming with New Orleans-based planning and economic development firm GCR Inc. to create a comprehensive development plan.

Cairo leaders say public forums will be held and focus groups formed to draw input from residents, who also can volunteer to help survey buildings and neighborhoods.

The project is to be finished by October and be funded by a $750,000 grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Years of conflict and a decline in river transportation conspired against this predominantly African American town. Once the main, bustling thoroughfare, the town’s riverfront Commercial Street is virtually vacant.