November 10, 2020


I am thrilled to share that the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois and Scott Air Force Base have once again been named as the regional recipient of the Abilene Trophy presented by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee (MAC), in conjunction with the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Office of Public Affairs. The announcement was made during the Annual Airlift/Tanker Association Virtual Convention in late October. This is the third time the prestigious award has recognized the Leadership Council and the communities around Scott Air Force Base for their ongoing commitment to and support of Scott Air Force Base, its mission and its people. This includes securing the passage of Illinois House Bill 1652, which provides expedited professional license reciprocity for military spouses and servicemembers, uniting students as part of its STEM & Cybersecurity programs and uniting total community support in numerous other ways. A great number of people contributed to this work from Illinois legislators, mayors, chambers of commerce, regional organizations, companies, churches, schools, to individual acts of support for the military members stationed at Scott Air Force Base.

In other good news, the Southern Illinois Development Foundation recently received a grant from Union Pacific Railroad for our Workforce 2030 program in STEM career fields. This is the second grant awarded to the Leadership Council by Union Pacific’s Community Ties Giving Program and will help us to set up a Multi-Modal Virtual Library. This free resource library for teachers, parents/guardians and students aligns with the Building Workforce 2020 program to build awareness of STEM, technical education and skilled construction trades careers. If your company has videos or other resources that could be added to the site, please email

The Leadership Council also continues to partner with local experts to present on various business-related topics on Wednesdays, with the most recent presentation of the Expert Wednesday series covering PCs for People, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, to help get computers in the homes of those who truly need them. PCs for People distributes refurbished corporate computers updated to Windows 10, with very low-cost, unlimited internet access for students, underserved populations, the elderly and veterans. In related news, the State of Illinois recently announced they are releasing $50 million in funding for the second round of matching grants through Connect Illinois, the state’s $420 million statewide broadband expansion plan. Illinois’ Office of Broadband will support expanded connections in new communities across the state through an application that will remain open through February 2021. Please contact us at to learn more about these initiatives and how you can help to bridge the digital divide by joining our Broadband Steering Committee.

In the meantime, we invite you to continue reading below for a round up on all the other good news related to additional investments in various sectors in Southwestern Illinois, including infrastructure, transportation, healthcare, education and more. 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
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Military Affairs Committee Congratulates 2019 Recipient of the Abilene Trophy
(, 11/03/2020)
The Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee (MAC), in conjunction with the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Office of Public Affairs, announced the winner of this year’s Abilene Trophy during the Airlift/Tanker Association (A/TA) virtual convention, Oct. 27-30, 2020. This year’s recipient of the Abilene Trophy is the Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois – Scott Air Force Base. (Read More)

Hundreds of carpentry jobs available in Metro East and southern Illinois
(Fox 2 News, 10/01/2020) 
Despite the high unemployment rate during the COVID pandemic, hundreds of jobs are available in the Metro East and southern Illinois as construction unions are stepping up their recruiting efforts. (Read More)

Pritzker visits Staunton to announce broadband funding 
(Advantage News, 10/19/2020) 
Gov. J.B. Pritzker visited Madison Communications in Staunton on Oct. 19 to announce the state is releasing $50 million in funding for the second round of matching grants through Connect Illinois, the state’s $420 million statewide broadband expansion plan. (Read More)

Metro Transit adds 14 electric buses to fleet
(Belleville News Democrat, 10/01/2020) 
Electric buses are coming to the St. Louis region. (Read More)

S.M. Wilson breaks ground on $6.5 million Highland Public Safety Building
(Illinois Business Journal, 10/26/2020)
St. Louis-based S.M. Wilson & Co. has been selected by the city of Highland to perform as the general contractor for the city’s $6.5M Public Safety Building. (Read More)

MidAmerica St. Louis Airport Posts Best Passenger Recovery in America 
(Riverbender, 10/26/2020) 
MASCOUTAH – MidAmerica St. Louis Airport saw the smallest decline in summer passengers of any airport in the country. From June 1 to August 31, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 40,590 departing passengers. (Read More)

Gov. Pritzker Announces $15 Million Investment to Build New Manufacturing Training Academies in Downstate Communities
(Riverbender, 10/27/2020)
CHAMPAIGN, IL– Governor JB Pritzker joined the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and industry leaders in announcing a first-of-its-kind program to expand manufacturing training opportunities for Illinois residents. (Read More)

State grant to support worker education and training 
(Advantage News, 10/07/2020) 
Congressional members, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville leaders, and representatives from Madison and St. Clair County workforce development departments joined state and local officials to announce a $1.47 million state grant on Tuesday at the Biotechnology Laboratory Incubator on the SIUE campus. (Read More)

Illinois American spending millions on ultraviolet disinfection at Alton water treatment plant
(Illinois Business Journal, 10/28/2020)
Illinois American Water is investing approximately $4.5 million to install ultraviolet disinfection at the Alton water treatment plant. (Read More)

New apartment construction development on tap in Jerseyville 
(Illinois Business Journal, October 2020 Issue, Page 2) 
With plans to break ground in spring 2021, Jerseyville will soon be able to offer another 20 units to individuals and families in need of high quality, affordable home options, officials say. (Read More)
Expert Wednesday Series

The Leadership Council started an Expert
Wednesday series for businesses to hear from experts on business related topics. We invite you to join and participate on the calls.

Upcoming Topics:

  • 11/18/2020 - Exporting in the Midst of COVID
  • 12/2/2020 - Navigating the Turbulent Waters of Biometric Information; compliance and Litigation Issues
  • 1/6/2020 - COVID Best Practices in the Workplace: What employers need to know in 2021
  •  *For meeting links please email
Mechanical engineering firm building bigger headquarters 
(Illinois Business Journal, October 2020 Issue, Page 3) 
Granite City-based icon Mechanical, one of the Midwest’s largest full-service design-build/design-assist mechanical contractors, has announced plans to expand its operations in Granite City, and hosted a ground-breaking ceremony this week on a new, 40,800 square-foot headquarters. The facility is scheduled for completion in summer 2021. (Read More)

Companies’ relationship grows with latest joint venture between Plocher, The Mantle Group 
(Illinois Business Journal, October 2020 Issue, Page 6) 
The latest venture in a growing relationship between Plocher Construction Co. and The Mantle Group has the pair partnering on a 55,000-square-foot, two-story structural steel office building at Scott Air Force Base. (Read More)

Holland Construction Services tackles historic Belleville hotel 
(Illinois Business Journal, October 2020 Issue, Page 7) 
Rebirth of an old legend is underway in Belleville, with Holland Construction Services guiding the effort. Holland is serving as general contractor in restoring the former Meredith Home, long known as Hotel Belleville, and will be turning it into a $9.25 million apartment project known as Lofts on the Square. (Read More)

Edwardsville to take on biggest project yet at Watershed Nature Center 
(Illinois Business Journal, 10/22/2020) 
In early November, the city of Edwardsville and the Nature Preserve Foundation, the organization that manages the Watershed Nature Center, will begin construction on the biggest park improvement project in the center’s history. (Read More)

Poettker Construction continues work on $30 million shopping center 
(Illinois Business Journal, October 2020 Issue, Page 7) 
Amid the unknown implications from the COVID-19 virus, Poettker Construction is forging ahead on construction for GBT Realty Corp.’s $30 million mixed-use development – The Shoppes at Richland Creek in O’Fallon, Ill. (Read More)

City of Edwardsville Among Nation’s Safest College Towns 
(Riverbender, 10/27/2020) 
EDWARDSVILLE – The City of Edwardsville, home to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is ranked among the nation’s top 15 safest college towns by Safewise in its fifth annual 2020 Safest College Towns list. (Read More)

Illinois American Water Awards Grants For Area Fire Departments 
(, 10/05/2020) 
BELLEVILLE – Over $87,000 will be shared by 88 Illinois fire departments through Illinois American Water’s 2020 Firefighter Grant Program. Since the program was created in 2010, over 680 grants totaling over $668,000 have been awarded to fire and emergency organizations across Illinois. (Read More)

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Receives Mission: Lifeline NSTEMI Gold Achievement Award For Cardiac Care 
(, 10/07/2020) 
O’Fallon, IL – HSHS St. Elizabeth’s has received the Mission: Lifeline® NSTEMI Gold Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association for the treatment of patients who suffer heart attacks. (Read More)

HSHS Holy Family Hospital earns national recognition for clinical quality 
(Illinois Business Journal, 10/26/2020) 
HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville has been named a 2020 Pinnacle of Excellence Award winner by Press Ganey. (Read More)

Girl Scouts In East St. Louis Receive Boost From $10,000 Grant 
(, 10/20/2020) 
Glen Carbon, Illinois – Girls in the East St. Louis area have received a big boost from the United Way of Greater St. Louis (UWGSL). (Read More)

1st MidAmerica Credit Union Delivers $15,000 in Grant Funds to Community 
(Riverbender, 10/30/2020) 
BETHALTO – 1st MidAmerica Credit Union delivered $15,000 in grant funds to community organizations in partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (FHLB). (Read More)
Thank you to the Leadership Council's Program Sponsors: