Category: Blog

Life in Edwardsville in a COVID-19 Pandemic Environment

Edwardsville, Illinois can accommodate all of your needs and wants, both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you are looking to start a family, invest in a college education, set up or grow your business, or even retire, there are a magnitude of opportunities Edwardsville offers that can cater to all of these plans. Located in Madison County in Southwestern Illinois, Edwardsville is only about a 25-minute drive from downtown St. Louis. The population of Edwardsville as of 2019 is around 25,233 people and it is on the rise. The population gives it a great hometown feel but is not so small that there is no room for expansion.

When looking closer at Edwardsville’s community, it is well-established, has many different amenities, and is equipped with resources to combat the global health crisis. Living with the COVID-19 pandemic has become a harsh reality, and we need more than ever a way to get out of the house and spend time outdoors while being safe and following the social distancing guidelines. The 130 miles of the Madison County Transit (MCT) Trails were and still are a perfect way to do so. When nobody was out in the community, and the normalcy of everyday life seemed to slip right through our fingers, all you had to do was look to the trails to see the people of Edwardsville coming together. The trails allow the community to get out of their houses and into nature while uniting one another through safe social distancing.

Just off of the trails, you can find Main Street in downtown. Here you can take a stroll and stop in any of the local restaurants or shops. You can also go to the historic Wildey Theater and see a movie, a live performance, or take in a remarkable beauty that this local landmark has to offer.  Another fantastic spot to go and get some fresh air and social distance are the gardens at SIUE. The 35-acres of botanical gardens provide a breathtaking getaway, allow you to connect with nature, and are conveniently located off of the trails. Whether you want to have a socially distanced picnic, sit and get some work done in the outdoors, take some pictures with a gorgeous background, or simply walk around and admire the beauty, the gardens are perfect for anything.

Located right in Edwardsville is Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. SIUE is a beautiful university that offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs to around 14,000 students. The campus of SIUE is picturesque and sits on 2,660 acres of land, although most of the buildings are centrally located and close to one another. Along with the scenic campus, SIUE offers online classes if you would prefer to safely social distance at home or if online is a better fit for your busy schedule. If you’ve just graduated high school and are looking to start your higher education, or if you’re looking to continue with a master’s program while taking care of your family, SIUE fits both of these options and many more. One of the advantages of the Edwardsville campus is that it is so close to St. Louis. This opens the door to many different internships and job opportunities.

Not only can you enhance your educational and personal life in Edwardsville, but you can also improve your professional life. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Madison county had an unemployment rate of only 3.5%, which was just under the national average and equal to the rest of Illinois. As of May 2020, Madison County has an unemployment rate of 13.2%. This is 2% lower than the 15.2% overall unemployment rate of Illinois, showing that no matter what is occurring globally, Edwardsville continuously has a low unemployment rate. Many major employers in Madison county create an abundance of jobs for Edwardsville’s people. These include Amazon, Prairie Farms, World Wide Technology, and Global Brass & Copper INC., to name a few.

When looking to expand or start a business, there are many resources that Edwardsville has to offer to help you succeed. The labor force, as of 2019, for Edwardsville was just over 12,400 people; for Madison county, it was just over 155,000 people; and for Southwestern IL, it was just over 328,000 people. The location of Edwardsville is unique from a logistics standpoint. Many different interstates are close by, including I-55 and I-270, and the airports in St. Louis allow for even more allocation of products. More than half of the U.S. population can obtain products in 2 days that move through Edwardsville’s distribution centers.

In Edwardsville, there are both the Gateway Commerce Center and the Lakeview Commerce Center. These two e-commerce parks offer warehousing and distribution options conveniently located to make the most for your business. They are also part of an Illinois Enterprise Zone, and properties in this zone can be up for many different tax abatements. The Enterprise Zone is not the only thing they have to offer; each individual park offers various features that may be right for your business. For example, the Gateway Commerce Center is part of Foreign Trade Zone No.31. This is one of only two Foreign Trade Zone’s in the country and can help lower international trade costs with different incentives.

Another great location in Edwardsville is University Park on the campus of SIUE. University Park is a 330-acre technology park that offers different, individual lots that allow clients to develop their business specifically for their goals. Since they are located on the campus of SIUE, companies have an abundance of college students to hire as employees or to add on as interns. These college students can also become customers, along with the rest of Edwardsville and the surrounding areas. The location puts University Park close to downtown St. Louis, different airports, and many regional interstates, which makes it easily accessible. University Park is a great location to open up your business because of the location and because it is part of an Illinois Enterprise Zone. This means that University Park properties may be eligible for many different exemptions or reductions that include sales tax exemption, property tax abatement, and many others.

Whether you want to social distance and explore the MCT trails, start or expand your business, continue your education, stroll downtown for a bite to eat, or just take in the beauty of the town, its people, and its’ surrounding areas, Edwardsville is the place to be.

 

 

Today, It’s All About Workforce

The United States economy is a wondrous thing.  After a prolonged economic drought, it has significantly improved in recent months.  In my opinion, the comeback is entirely because of the dogged tenacity of American companies.  The stock market is up, consumer confidence is the highest it has been since 2000, and CEO confidence is surging.  Even the U-6 unemployment rate, which measures the unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged workers, indicates that civilian workers are rejoining the ranks of the employed.  Great news for sure, but with this optimism comes a strain on the American workforce.

The key to growth is attracting and retaining great talent.  Top candidates experience an increase of competitive job offers, along with better salaries and opportunities.  In Edwardsville we have seen several firms in our Lakeview and Gateway Commerce Centers rely on staffing firms to identify, recruit, and hire.  These companies realize that a creative, innovative approach is needed to attract the right talent for skilled positions in a tightening job market.

The City of Edwardsville recognizes that more emphasis is now placed on our community development efforts.  Quality of Place has suddenly become a very serious part of the economic development business.  When trying to attract workers, especially young professionals, to come live in our community, our lifestyle offerings get more scrutiny than ever.  Shopping, dining, K-12 schools, and other offerings may be much more important than just a few years ago.  The passage of Proposition E makes the job of economic development easier.

Some communities are offering incentives to attract retailers as a way of developing a more livable place.  I believe the adage “retail follows rooftops” is outdated.  Today, a very common occurrence is that companies follow workers, who follow lifestyle, in which retail is a contributing factor.  Skilled workers have more choices today of where they want to work, and these skilled workers want to be part of larger metropolitan areas.

We have seen this in Chicago.  This past quarter we learned that Caterpillar would scrap plans to build new offices in Peoria and instead relocate its headquarters and 300 employees to the Chicago area, becoming the latest in a series of high-profile companies seeking a bigger talent pool and better transportation options.

In Edwardsville, we strongly believe the key to growth is great people.  The Edwardsville market offers this key in the abundance of great people who live, learn, work, and play in our community.  Dr. Timothy S. Sullivan, an instructor in the Department of Economic and Finance at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville “says there are approximately 7,600 ‘missing’ workers in the Edwardsville market.”

Dr. Sullivan elaborates by explaining that these workers haven’t left – they’re still part of the adult population and they’re not “unemployed” in the traditional sense.  They’ve dropped out of the labor force – they’ve stopped looking for work.

Dr. Sullivan stresses, “Finding these missing workers is important for growing our economy.”  Just think of our area’s GDP if a fraction of those 7,600 (using a conservative estimate of 5,000) missing persons were contributing to our economy with an hourly wage of $17.00 for a 40-hour workweek, this would translate into $176,800,000 increase of our area’s GDP.

Edwardsville businesses locating workers who aren’t actively looking for work might require different strategies from those tactics that worked in the past.  The Economic Development Department is here to help local companies secure available workforce.  We look forward to working with you.

So, is there one magic answer?  No, but things sure are interesting, aren’t they?

Jim Walton-Brand Acceleration contributed to this article.

E-Commerce Boom Brings Region New Freight Opportunities

Mary LamieMary C. Lamie
Executive Director, St. Louis Regional Freightway

This article was published in the St. Louis Business Journal on August 26, 2016

The e-commerce business is growing at an incredible pace, and at St. Louis Regional Freightway, we are seeing this rapid growth produce a surge of expansion opportunities in the bi-state region for manufacturing and logistics industries. The U.S. Commerce Department reports e-commerce sales have more than doubled from nearly $169 billion in 2010 to $341 billion in 2015. From all indications, the future looks even brighter for e-commerce sales, thanks to increased mobile device usage and Internet connectivity.

This seismic consumer purchasing trend is creating a record demand for industrial real estate nationwide, and our region is a prime location for distribution centers. Locally, nearly 7 million square feet of new industrial real estate will come on line this year, according Jones Lang LaSalle. In June, Amazon announced it will build two fulfillment centers in Edwardsville, Illinois that will have a combined square footage of 1.5 million square feet. This new e-commerce model of placing smaller warehouses closer to population centers to reduce shipping times and costs is a win-win for our region.

At St. Louis Regional Freightway, we have streamlined the site selection process for big shippers and have become the go-to source for companies looking to expand their manufacturing and logistics operations. In fact, we have identified the top 11 large scale industrial sites for manufacturing and logistic expansion and growth.

Check out the list at TheFreightway.com/ecommerce and join us in making our freight district even more competitive.