March 23, 2021


The clocks sprung forward last week which means spring has arrived, and we’re pleased to be starting the new season on a high note with a continual flow of positive news across the Metro East.

The Leadership Council’s Economic Development Leadership Team has been extremely busy in conducting research and developing new strategic planning for the post-COVID recovery. As part of our ongoing outreach, we have conducted broadband surveys to secure input that will help our strategic regional planning for the Southwestern Illinois Connected Communities cohort. These efforts are aimed at building awareness of broadband connectivity challenges, advocating for enhanced connectivity with state and federal legislators and related companies and more. The goal is to enable digital literacy and readiness activities for all residents with an emphasis on underserved communities. Close to home, the Collinsville School District is working to address this digital divide after unveiling its new, privately-owned Long-Term Evolution (LTE) broadband, or high-speed network last week for about 500 students in Fairmont City and State Park Place to be able to access the internet at home. This private network is among the first of only five in the U.S. built by a school district.

Additionally, the St. Louis region’s industrial sector continues to experience record-setting growth, resulting in a strong demand for labor and the need for enhanced transportation options to connect a larger pool of employees to the thousands of jobs that have been added, even in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. The transit solutions recently deployed in Madison County, Ill., which is home to the booming industrial corridor known locally as Logistics Valley, include the addition of two new Madison County Transit (MCT) express routes from the Alton and Collinsville areas. These routes directly serve the warehouses throughout Gateway Commerce Center and have significantly reduced travel times for riders from those communities, making it possible for them to complete the one way trip in as little as 25 to 30 minutes in many cases.

The Leadership Council has added a new monthly newsletter focused on economic development in our region to our communications tools. You can see the inaugural edition of SWIL Growth Collaborative here, and if you would like to have an economic development project featured in an upcoming issue, please email [email protected]. We will also be featuring economic development activities in a 3-5 minute podcast version called The Leader’s Brief, which is another great opportunity to share information with other local leaders. You can check out the latest episode with the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center here.

In other exciting news, the celebration tour of the Abilene Trophy continues throughout local communities to commemorate the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois and Scott Air Force Base being recognized by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee (MAC), in conjunction with the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Office of Public Affairs. If a business would like the trophy to visit their location, please contact [email protected].

Last but not least, we are proud to welcome two new staff members - Andrea Beyer, Administrative Assistant and Bruce McLaughlin, Grant/Education Coordinator - to the Leadership Council
team effective this week. We would also like to extend our congratulations to our Economic Development Vice Chair Eric Whitfield for his recent promotion from Manager to Senior Manager at Ameren Illinois!

Below you'll find several other articles highlighting significant investments throughout various sectors in Southwestern Illinois, businesses that are expanding in our region and more. Happy reading and have a great rest of the week!

Dr. Ronda Sauget
Ronda Sauget, D. Mgmt, MBA
Executive Director and CEO
Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois
104 Magnolia Drive, Ste B
Glen Carbon, IL 62034
Cardinals ink deal with Gateway Grizzlies to use team's stadium as training site
(St. Louis Business Journal, 03/09/2021)
The St. Louis Cardinals said Tuesday they’ve inked an agreement with the Gateway Grizzlies to use the Metro East independent, professional baseball team’s stadium as a training site to begin the 2021 MLB season. (Read More)

Bill addresses future railway infrastructure in Illinois
(Illinois Business Journal, 03/09/2021)
SPRINGFIELD – A House transportation committee on Monday advanced two bills, one lowering toll rates for small trailers and another creating a forum on future railway infrastructure. (Read More)

Broadband push seeks gaps in connectivity
(Illinois Business Journal, March 2021 Issue, Page 1)
Broadband is a rather dull word, until you lack it, or lose it. Suddenly, the coined phrase for internet connectivity becomes all important. (Read More)

Warehouse demand continues to rise in Midwest markets
(Illinois Business Journal, March 2021 Issue, Page 2)
Booming interest in industrial space continues to fill the warehouses in Metro East and beyond, according to commercial real estate firm JLL. (Read More)

Illinois American begins massive sewer separation project in Alton
(Illinois Business Journal, 03/04/2021)
Illinois American Water is kicking off three significant projects to separate portions of the wastewater system from the stormwater system. Over six miles of sanitary sewer main will be installed in the Turner Tract, Shields Valley and Piasa Valley areas of Alton. (Read More)

More Public Transit Options and Public-Private Sector Collaboration Creates Better Access to Labor Pool for Industrial Park Employers
(Riverbender, 03/03/2021)
ST. LOUIS - Record-setting growth in the St. Louis region’s industrial sector in recent years resulted in strong demand for labor and the need for enhanced transportation options to connect a larger pool of employees to the thousands of jobs that have been added. (Read More)

Collinsville Schools bridge digital divide for 500 students in Fairmont City, State Park
(Edwardsville Intelligencer, 03/07/2021)
COLLINSVILLE — One of the effects the pandemic had on the Collinsville School District was to expose its digital divide. (Read More)

Volunteers encouraged to get behind Madison County litter campaign
(Illinois Business Journal, 03/10/2021)
EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County is offering a new program to help reduce litter and maintain “Clean Communities.” “As winter ends, litter is everywhere, and we have a plan to clean it up,” Chairman Kurt Prenzler said. (Read More)

Edwardsville adds 35 acres in its '200 Acres for 200 Years' campaign
(Edwardsville Intelligencer, 03/11/2021)
The City of Edwardsville’s “200 Acres for 200 Years” campaign has the goal of preserving donated acreage and property purchased by the city for future generations to enjoy, commemorating Edwardsville’s anniversary celebrating over 200 years. (Read More)
PCs for People help get computers in the homes of those who truly need them!

Distributes refurbished corporate computers updated to Windows 10, with very low-cost, unlimited internet access for students, underserved populations, elderly, and veterans.

They have connected over 450,000 people to internet and computing devices. The State of Illinois Office of Broadband has committed to facilitate the donation of 10,000 computers to PCs for People Metro East, but they have set a goal of sourcing a total of 25,000 computers in their first year in order to meet the significant need in our community, and they need our help to meet that goal.

PCs for People is NAID AAA certified to wipe clean all data off computers and recertify them for reuse

PC donations needed!!  

If you would like more information about how to donate computers, please contact the Leadership Council office at 618-692-9745 or [email protected]
IDOT reopens exit ramp on I-55/64 in East St. Louis
(Belleville News-Democrat, 03/10/2021)
The Illinois Department of Transportation said the ramp from westbound Interstate 55/64 to southbound Tudor and Piggott avenues in East St. Louis reopened Wednesday. (Read More)

Edwardsville Public Library embarks on 'Next Chapter' with renovation
(Edwardsville Intelligencer, 03/12/2021)
The Edwardsville Public Library announced the renovation and modernization of the interior of our historic library, “EPL – The Next Chapter.” (Read More)

Ameren Illinois to use helicopters on transmission line enhancements
(Illinois Business Journal, 03/15/2021)
Contractor line crews, working on behalf of Ameren, will work from helicopters to make upgrades to the transmission grid to enhance energy reliability and resiliency for Madison County and surrounding counties. (Read More)

Illinois American Water to upgrade Godfrey wastewater system
(Illinois Business Journal, 03/08/2021)
Project includes restoration to La Vista Creek watershed. Next week, Illinois American Water will begin upgrades to wastewater infrastructure in Godfrey. (Read More)

Urology of St. Louis opens new satellite office in Highland
(Illinois Business Journal, 03/05/2021)
New office located within HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital
Urology of St. Louis, the largest private urologic practice in St. Louis and the Metro East, recently opened a satellite location within HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital at 12860 Troxler Ave., Highland. (Read More)

Series of exporting presentations planned by Southwestern Illinois trade center
(Illinois Business Journal, 03/08/2021)
The Illinois SBDC International Trade Center at SIUE, in partnership with Southwest Illinois Trade and Investment Council and longtime supporter LR International, will kick off its spring series of “EXPORT NOW” presentations, starting on Wednesday, March 24, via Zoom. (Read More)

Troy area chamber brings job info online with virtual fairs
(Illinois Business Journal, March 2021 Issue, Page 1)
Virtual job fairs are one way to reach potential hires during a pandemic, and a local chamber is taking that service seriously. (Read More)

MCT offers free rides to vaccination sites
(Advantage News, 03/08/2021)
As area vaccination efforts ramp up, Madison County Transit is helping provide transportation to vaccination sites throughout the county by offering free rides on fixed-route buses serving those sites and paratransit trips for registered senior citizens and disabled passengers. (Read More)

Edwardsville Children’s Museum to break ground on ‘micro forest’
(Illinois Business Journal, 03/02/2021)
The community is invited to help plant 100 trees on March 20. According to the U.S. Forest Service, 36 million trees are cut down in the U.S. each year. (Read More)
Thank you to the Leadership Council's Program Sponsors: