May 31, 2018

This week may be a shorter work week due to the Memorial Day holiday, but that doesn't mean we're short on good news items for this edition of Good NewsLink.

Recent articles highlight a record year for Illinois tourism with the number of visitors during 2017 reaching an all-time high, while "Discover Southwest Illinois," a two-day summit hosted by the Southwest Illinois Trade and Investment Council, included up-close-and-personal visits to robotics-equipped warehouse-distribution hubs, walking tours of an intermodal port district and more. 

The continued strength of our industrial market remains evident with news that Contegra Construction Co. has completed a $26 million, 593,940-square-foot speculative distribution facility at Gateway Commerce Center. A strong transportation network is critical to supporting continued growth in the industrial sector, and to that end, the Leadership Council is pleased to be hosting Randy Blankenhorn, Illinois Transportation Secretary, for a visit to the Metro East this week to highlight key transportation projects in Southwestern Illinois.

May 29th was a special day for about 500 workers United States Steel Corp. is rehiring or recruiting as it readies for production in mid-June at a blast furnace it idled in 2015. 

Other news calls attention to new investments in health care, senior services, mixed use facilities, public infrastructure and more. You'll find more on all of these exciting stories and all the other recent good news we've rounded up below. Read on and please be sure to share.

Have a great day!

Ronda Sauget, D. Mgmt, MBA
Executive Director
Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois

Alton Memorial opens 41,000-square-foot building expansion
(Illinois Business Journal, 5/15/2018)
Alton Memorial Hospital has opened a 41,000-square-foot expansion of its Medical Office Building B. SIHF Healthcare has relocated three of its Alton health centers to take up the entire second floor (Suite 210) of the new part of the building, which has an address of 4 Memorial Drive in Alton. The original building, first constructed in 2012, now has an expanded main covered entrance and drop-off area, with plenty of convenient parking for patients. (Read More)

Schon Park groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for May 25
(Illinois Business Journal, 5/16/18)
Village officials including Mayor Rob Jackstadt, Edwardsville Junior Service Club members, the Edwardsville Community Foundation and other stakeholders will break ground on the second phase of Ray M. Schon Park located across from Glen Carbon Village Hall at 156 Glen Carbon Road at noon Friday, May 25.  Keller Construction of Edwardsville, was chosen as the contractor for the development's second phase. (Read More)

New nature preserve is in the works
(Edwardsville Intelligencer, 5/18/2018)
The city has received a $976,290 grant to purchase 71 acres of land that will soon be turned into a nature preserve off New Poag Road. Aldermen discussed the issue during closed session of Tuesday's meeting of the Edwardsville City Council. They later approved a motion to accept the grant. Mayor Hal Patton said the grant - awarded by the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation- will be used to buy the 71-acre wooded property from owner Nancy Taber. (Read More)

Contegra Construction Co. Completes $26 Million Speculative Distribution Center at Gateway Commerce Center
(St. Louis Construction News and Review, 5/16/2018)
Contegra Construction Co. has a completed a new 593,940-square-foot speculative distribution center at the 2,300-acre Gateway Commerce Center near Edwardsville, Ill. The $26 million project was built for Earth City-based TriStar Properties and PCCP, LLC, a national real estate finance and investment management company. (Read More)

Senior Services Plus breaks ground on new Wellness Center building
(Riverbender, 5/29/2018)
ALTON - Senior Services Plus broke ground on May 17th, 2018, for their new Wellness Center. The Wellness Center being constructed will be a state-of-the-art 9,900 square foot wellness center which will include: a 6,400 Square foot gym, indoor walking track, and a 2,000 square foot exercise classroom for group fitness classes. The Wellness Center will have an impact on the community by helping to improve the quality of people's lives. (Read More)

Development progressing: Multi-use project set for Route 157
(Edwardsville Intelligencer, 5/16/2018)
Plans are moving forward for Whispering Heights, a multi-use complex that developer Fireside Financial hopes will attract young professionals and empty nesters to its upscale rental property on Route 157.  The City Council approved the Planned Unit Development in January, and architects have busied themselves lately with finishing drawings for the site. After that, the project will go out for bid, Mayor Hal Patton said recently. Power lines for the development will be buried underground.  The project is valued at $28 million. (Read More)

More work set for St. Louis Street
(Edwardsville Intelligencer, 5/11/18)
Workers will begin a new summer project soon to resurface St. Louis Street and add bike lanes, sidewalks and sidewalk ramps on each side, if the proposal is approved next week by the Edwardsville City Council.  The spring project on St. Louis Street that saw new water lines installed is still in the works. On Tuesday, the Public Services Committee approved a $1.1 million contract with RCS Construction, Inc. for Phase II of the St. Louis Street Reconstruction project. (Read More)

Troy Road project to begin
(Edwardsville Intelligencer, 5/21/2018)
With the Troy Road resurfacing project set to begin on today, the city of Edwardsville last week hired independent contractor Jim McAdams as a construction inspector to oversee the project.  McAdams has filled that role for more than 20 years, said Director of Public Works Eric Williams. (Read More)

Foreign trade investors tour Southwestern Illinois resources
(Illinois Business Journal, 5/20/2018)
Business and government leaders across Southwest Illinois led international trade representatives from 11 countries on a firsthand tour of the resources the region offers global trade partners and foreign direct investors.
"Discover Southwest Illinois," a two-day summit hosted by the Southwest Illinois Trade and Investment Council, included up-close-and-personal visits to robotics-equipped warehouse-distribution hubs, walking tours of an intermodal port district and more. SWITIC Board President David Kniepkamp, an active exporter as well as president of Smart Controls LLC, said the visit showcased Southwest Illinois to the fullest, cementing valuable trade and investment relationships. (Read More)

St. Clair County receives federal designation for apprenticeship program
(Illinois Business Journal, 5/24/2018)
St. Clair County has gotten a boost in helping job-seekers start a career.  The United States Department of Labor has designated the St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department as the first Local Workforce Development Area in the state to be approved as a Registered Apprenticeship Program Intermediary/Sponsor. (Read More)

Seven CDBG projects finalized, to receive $100K
(Alton Telegraph, 5/20/2018)
Seven projects will each receive $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding according to a plan worked out by the Madison County Board's Grants Committee during a special meeting last week.  There were no changes from projects announced at the previous Grants Committee, but the specific criteria was explained. (Read More)

GCFD to present plans to public
(Edwardsville Intelligencer, 5/17/2018)
Glen Carbon residents will have an opportunity to hear the plans for the new fire station.  Representatives from the Glen Carbon Fire Protection District will present the Station 1 replacement project plans from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday, May 19, at Station 1 located at 199 South Main St. GCFPD Trustee Chris Otto said the meeting is being held to inform the public on the plans and the financing of the new station. (Read More)

Metro East housing programs to share $8 million in federal money
(Illinois Business Journal, 5/17/2018)
U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth today announced that Metro East communities will receive $7,946,210 in federal grant funding through programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The Illinois Democrats said the funding was allocated through HUD's Community Development Block Grants and HOME Investment Partnerships programs to help state and local governments expand economic opportunities and provide suitable living environments for low-to-moderate income individuals. (Read More)

Illinois tourism coming off record year, officials say
(Illinois Business Journal, 5/16/2018)
Visitors to Illinois hit an all-time high in 2017, state leaders said Tuesday. Nearly 114 million people traveled to the state last year to "Enjoy Illinois" and give a $1.1 billion boost to the state's economy.  Last year's visitor totals were 1.4 percent higher than 2016, which also was a record year. Travelers came from all over the world for business (17 percent) and pleasure (83 percent). In the past 10 years, travelers visiting Illinois increased by more than 22 million, and tourism has become one of the state's most important industries. The Illinois tourism industry supported 335,500 jobs in 2017, an increase of 18,600 jobs since 2015. (Read More)  

Memorial Hospital locations recognized by Healthgrades for patient experience
(Illinois Business Journal, 5/18/2018)
Memorial Hospital East in Shiloh and Memorial Hospital in Belleville have both achieved the Healthgrades 2018 Outstanding Patient Experience Award.  Memorial Hospital Belleville received the award for the third consecutive year and in so doing was among the top 5 percent of all short-term acute care hospitals reporting patient safety data.  Memorial Hospital Belleville is on the only hospital in the St. Louis metro area to be in the top 5 percent for three years in a row. (Read More)

MidAmerica Airport chosen as 2018 Illinois Primary Airport of Year
(Illinois Business Journal, 5/22/2018)
MidAmerica St. Louis Airport today announced it has been chosen as the 2018 Primary Airport of the Year by the Illinois Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics.
The award for distinction will be presented at a special ceremony on Thursday, May 24, during the Illinois Aviation Conference. Award recipients are chosen based on the following criteria: (Read More)

Elsah is top scenic spot in Illinois Top 200 project
(Illinois Business Journal, 5/17/2018)
Sorry Chicago, the rest of Illinois took the top spots on the state's list of Top 200 Scenic Spots.  Chicago's lakefront is seventh on the list. The Bean didn't even make the top 10. Chris Wills with Illinois' Historic Preservation Agency said Elsah, a tiny village not far from Alton in the Metro East, took the top spot. (Read More)

Secretary of state awards more than $15 million in library grants
(Advantage News, 5/10/2018)
Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White has awarded fiscal year 2018 Illinois Public Library Per Capita and Equalization Aid Grants totaling $15.4 million to 630 public libraries serving 12 million patrons. (Read More)

Plans advance for newly named 'Alton Organic Energy' center
(Illinois Business Jounal, 5/24/2018)
Plans are moving forward with Alton's resource recovery center. At the Alton City Council meeting on Wednesday evening, the official name was approved, as well as the next steps in the development and construction of the facility.  The facility, which was formerly referred to as "Aton Resource Recovery Facility" has been named "Alton Organic Energy."
(Read More)

Solar energy programs planned
(Edwardsville Intelligencer, 5/18/2018)
The second year of an effort to solarize the Metro-East is now underway, thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers who are passionate about bringing energy sustainability to the community, and saving homeowners on electricity costs in the process. (Read More)

Two Madison County projects receive federal housing tax credits
(Alton Telegraph, 5/27/2018)
Two Madison County housing development projects were among 26 statewide awarded federal tax credits by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).  The Community of Sunnybrook, a new development in Alton located east of downtown Alton; and Edison Avenue Lofts, a rehabilitation of the former YWCA in downtown Granite City into mixed-income, mixed use apartments, were among those approved, according to a press release from the IHDA.  The IHDA recently awarded $26.4 million in federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to help fund 26 developments in 15 counties throughout Illinois. (Read More)

Granite City hails disputed tariffs
(St. Louis Post Dispatch, 5/29/2018)
After Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 on a pledge to "Make America Great Again" and revive the country's old industrial heartland, Dave Chrusciel hoped someday to return to his previous job at the steel mill here in the Metro East.  That day has arrived. Chrusciel, 61, is one of about 500 workers United States Steel Corp. is rehiring or recruiting as it readies for production in mid-June at a blast furnace it idled in 2015. (Read More)

As FreightWeek gets underway, local barge industry cited for efficiencies
(Illinois Business Journal, 5/22/2018)
The state of the barge industry was among the first educational sessions offered to attendees of FreightWeek STL, a four-day conference hosted by Inland Marine Expo, Institute for Trade and Transportation Studies and St. Louis Regional Freightway. (Read More)

Could tiny houses in O'Fallon help solve problem of veteran homelessness?
(Belleville News-Democrat, 5/29/2018)
In the next few months, a Veterans Community Project to provide tiny homes for homeless veterans is exploring the possibility of a site in O'Fallon.  Steve Russel, of U.S. Rep. Mike Bost's office, is working on the project, along with city and the O'Fallon VFW.  O'Fallon Mayor Herb Roach said the goal is to transition homeless veterans into regular home life.     (Read More)