Category: News

SIUE’s Sullivan talks of changing times in workforce, sees economic growth ahead in region

Dr. Tim Sullivan

EDWARDSVILLE – Dr. Timothy S. Sullivan, Ph.D, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Business, said the economic forecast for the area is dependent on several factors, but he sees a bright future ahead this year and in coming years.

Sullivan was a key presenter at the annual Edwardsville Breakfast this past week at Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville.

He showed some various slides that showed growth of about 3.5 percent of the national economy over the last 10-15 years. That growth has slowed in recent years and since 2000 grown at an average rate of about 1.8 percent.

Sullivan’s prediction is for likely more of the same this year nationally and throughout the Madison County region, but he said that is dependent on several factors, including an Illinois State budget or not and what happens in Washington, D.C., in coming months with trade and many other changing factors. Sullivan pointed out an interesting factor that there have been 11 recessions since World War II, something that might take some by surprise.

Since 2000, Madison County and Illinois in general have grown at an average rate of 0.8 percent, he said. The St. Louis Metropolitan area has grown at 0.7 percent and the U.S. economy as stated before has grown at 1.8 percent.

The 2017 forecast by Sullivan is 2.3 percent national growth, 1.3 percent in Illinois, 1.0 in the St. Louis metropolitan area and 1.5 percent in Madison County. The Wall Street Journal predicts 2.4 percent growth, so Sullivan’s predictions mirror others nationally.

Since 2000 the workforce nationally has declined about 3 percent for men and women, he said, translating into several million lost jobs.

Sullivan told the audience that going forward, he expects businesses to find workers in a different way, not as much through conventional newspaper classified listings but postings on the Web and social media, along with contact with community organizations, placement agencies and even churches.

He stressed this is a changing time in the American workforce and employers must adapt with it to obtain the best possible workers.

If you have a news, human interest or sports idea, e-mail or call or text 618-623-5930. Follow Dan Brannan on Facebook and on Twitter.

Edwardsville Breakfast shows city is on upward swing with business, real estate and parks growth

Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton.

EDWARDSVILLE – Spirits were high Tuesday morning at the Edwardsville 2017 Business Forecast Breakfast at Wildey Theatre, reflecting on a sensational year in 2016 and a strong outlook ahead for this year.

Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton started the meeting off on positive note about how 2016 was an incredible year for the city of Edwardsville and the area. Patton was followed by Madison County Chairman Kurt Prenzler and Cathy Hamilton of BARBERMurphy Group, the moderator.

Madison County Community Development Director Kristen Poshard provided insight to the 2017 prospects. Dr. Timothy Sullivan of SIUE then gave national and local economic outlook, Mike Hurley, of Balke Brown Transwestern did a presentation on the market analysis for Class A Office Space Outlook in Edwardsville. A Realtors’ Roundtable followed with questions and answers was positioned at the end of the breakfast.

Edwardsville Economic/Community Development Director Walt Williams organized the Business Forecast and was commended by Mayor Patton and the others for those efforts.

“We had a record year of job creation and investment in Downtown Edwardsville,” Patton said reflecting on 2016. “Business is trending up and we made a lot of progress with infrastructure improvements.”

Patton discussed the two spec buildings that were created in the Gateway Commerce Center, one housing the new Amazon distribution business. The mayor also mentioned First to the Finish and Prairie Farms locating headquarters in Edwardsville. He then explained other large projects – the new SIUE Fire Station construction, the new Public Safety Building on Main Street in Edwardsville and Madison County Mutual Insurance Company occupying two floors of the new Park Plaza in Downtown Edwardsville.

Patton said the various construction projects created thousands of jobs and over 1,300 permanent jobs, valued at $154 million to Edwardsville.

Madison County Community Development Director Kristen Poshard
Madison County Community Development Director Kristen Poshard

Poshard said the Gateway Commerce Center area is one of the hottest places to do business throughout the entire region and country. She said creating the logistics enterprise zone has generated a new tax base with transportation jobs and the future looks bright there and throughout Madison County with a changing workforce.

Patton’s final words summed up his prime mission since becoming mayor: “Edwardsville is a place where you can live, work and play” his emphasis during his administration.

J.K. Electric was named the Business of the Year honor at the annual breakfast.

Stories on J.K. Electric, and presentations by Sullivan and Hurley to come.

If you have a news, human interest or sports idea, e-mail or call or text 618-623-5930. Follow Dan Brannan on Facebook and on Twitter.

J.F. Electric named 2016 Business of the Year

Jonathan Fowler, of J.F. Electric Incorporated, accepted the award at Tuesday’s annual Economic Forecast Breakfast.

J.F. Electric Incorporated accepted the 2016 Business of the Year award at this morning’s Economic Forecast Breakfast at the Wildey Theatre. With numerous business owners and city staff in attendance, J.F. Electric was recognized for its efforts and successes over the past year.

Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton presented the award and said after the business located its headquarters to Edwardsville, both the business and the city have grown exponentially.

“J.F. Electric traces its roots back to 1925. A father-owned company, a contracting firm established by James E. Fowler in St. Louis, Missouri. Under the leadership of James’ son Charles R. Fowler, the company expanded and diversified, redoubling its efforts in the southern Illinois market. In 1969, current chairman James C. Fowler, son of Charles, purchased the electric division from his father, founding J.F. incorporated with headquarters in Edwardsville, Illinois. Under James’ leadership, the company expanded dramatically to meet growing demand for commercial, industrial and utility construction. The father family tradition of strong leadership and commitment to quality will continue for generations to come,” Patton said.

“It is my pleasure to present the award for J.F. Electric for their investment in the city of Edwardsville. The city is extremely grateful for J.F. and a key business partner in our community,” he added.

Jonathan Fowler, of J.F. Electric, accepted the award on behalf of his grandfather, Jim Fowler, chairman of the J.F. Electric Incorporated Board. The company provides a variety of services, including electrical design and construction services to utility, commercial, industrial and communications customers while also offering transmission and distribution line construction, design and build, special systems installations, and more.

Fowler said after his grandfather set his sights on the Edwardsville area, the business continued to grow.

“(My grandfather) saw the potential that this city had. Great geographical location, great leadership and eagerness to grow. He thought that this would be a great place to grow as a business and he was right. Ever since then our goal has been to create connections and deliver value in all aspects of business. We seek not only to establish great relationships with our customers, but also to create interactions with the community itself. Our relationships drive our business and continue to remind us why we need business in Edwardsville,” Fowler said.

J.F. Electric has contributed to sponsoring local events, donating funds to the city and also supplying power to its customers.

Fowler said he hopes the J.F. Electric continues to prosper and wishes the best for the other surrounding local businesses as well.

“The relationships between Edwardsville and the businesses that reside here is an important one. Edwardsville is a greater place because of the businesses that are here and the businesses are greater because of the support the community provides. It’s an environment that works for the benefit of everyone that lives and works here in Edwardsville. I truly believe that there has never been a greater time to live and work here in the city. As a lifelong resident, I have seen the community grow and the opportunities flourish. We are currently working on a number of projects here in the city of Edwardsville and see many more on the horizon,” he said.

“We will continue to do our part in bringing more business and people to the city of Edwardsville…we hope others will follow,” he added.

For more information about J.F. Electric Incorporated, visit the company’s website at

New restaurant to open downtown

Crushed Red to offer pizza, salads

Updated 11:28 am, Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A new restaurant is coming to Edwardsville in May.

Crushed Red will be moving into the new building at 222 East Park, at the intersection of Park and South Buchanan.

“We’ve been very excited about Edwardsville,” said Powell Kalish, the Chief Development Officer with Crushed Red. “We’ve been looking in Edwardsville for three years. We like the mix of the day population and the night population with the college and the courts and the businesses downtown.”

Crushed Red was founded in St. Louis.

There are three restaurants in St. Louis and there are franchises in Denver and Columbia, Mo. “We’re opening in Overland Park, near Kansas City, and in Chesterfield in March,” Kalish said.

“We describe Crushed Red as elevated fast casual,” Kalish said, adding that they were known for their salads. “Salads are the stars of our game.  We have some that are already dressed or you can craft your own,” he said. “The salad is chopped and dressed in front of you.”

They also offer small pizzas that cook in two minutes, soups, and sharables, or appetizers. “We have a good selection for health conscious diners. We also have a lot of organic,” Kalish said.

The restaurant also offers beer and wine. “We have leather seats, linen tablecloths, and real glassware and china,” Kalish said. The restaurant is 100 percent sustainable, he added, meaning that they compost and recycle everything used. “We can do this because we use real china and glassware,” he said.

“The atmosphere shifts at night,” Kalish said. “We dim the lights and pull the shades. We have people stay a little longer at night.”

Kalish said the restaurant started when the owners saw a need. “People wanted high quality ingredients and atmosphere,” he said. “We saw that there was a gap between Chipotle and full service.” They also recognized the desire for healthier choices, he said.

“We kept the price point in line with fast casual,” he said, “but we have higher quality, health conscious ingredients.”

Some locations are franchised, Kalish said, but those in the St. Louis area are company-owned. The Edwardsville location will be company-owned.

“We’re always looking for new opportunities. We are always looking to see where we might be a good fit,” Kalish said.

The Edwardsville location will have approximately 100 interior seats, with an additional 25 outside when weather permits. There will probably be about 30 employees, Kalish said, with 12 to 15 staff per shift. They will be a mix of full-time and part-time.

“We usually start hiring about 45 days before opening,” Kalish said. “Once we have a more firm timeline, we’ll know when that is.”

Local economic forecast has potential for 2017

Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton discusses Edwardsville’s economic successes over the past year at the annual Economic Forecast Breakfast on Tuesday.

Updated 12:09 pm, Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Wildey Theatre had a full house this morning as city staff and local business owners attended the annual Economic Forecast Breakfast. The event was organized by Economic/Community Development Director Walt Williams and featured several key speakers, including Dr. Tim Sullivan, of SIUE, Cathy Hamilton with the BARBERMurphy Group as the moderator, Mike Hurley from Balke Brown Transwestern, and others. The focus of the breakfast discussed the predicted economic outlook for the new year.

Patton started off the discussion and said this past year was one for the record for the city of Edwardsville.

“It was a record year for total investment. We also had a record year for job creation and we had a record year for investment in our downtown. The city of Edwardsville is turning up, a city of both tradition and progress, from our infrastructure improvements to demolition of vacant, underutilized structures to construction of new state-of-the-art buildings. Business is being redefined in Edwardsville,” Patton said.

The city has seen new additions in the year 2016, including the newly-constructed headquarters of First to the Finish, the SIUE Fire Station, Prairie Farms, Madison County Mutual Auto Insurance Company in Park Plaza, and various others.

Patton said the city has also made significant progress with projects, both finished and those still in the works.

“We’ve also completed a lot of infrastructure projects ourselves. As you know, the new fire station out at SIUE, $3.5 million investment makes our campus safer, makes our community safer by getting down to the warehouse district where we have over five thousand workers on a daily basis. We also completed Leon Corlew Spray ‘n Play Park…we had over 500 visitors a day for the first two and a half weeks, so we’re proud of that,” he said.

“The result of this synergy is an existing business is growing in Edwardsville. Thirty percent of our 893 registered businesses have hired new employees for 2016. Our residents consider Edwardsville to be an excellent investment choice. In 2016, 67 permits were issued for downtown Edwardsville improvements. These permits had a value just under $4 million,” he added.

With new local businesses that have joined the Edwardsville area, including Where They Roam, the Water Sweet Soap Company, Taqueria Z, and others, Patton said with more business comes more investors.

“When current businesses and committee members continue to invest in our community, it sends a message to other investors that they need to be here as well. These numbers prove that Edwardsville is open for business. Our goal under my administration has always been and will always be to encourage bustling economic activity while maintaining and building on the character of our neighborhoods and the quality of our family life. Edwardsville is absolutely a place where you can live, learn, work and play under a great example of government that works,” he said.

Dr. Sullivan then took to the stage to give his proposed national and local economic outlook for the new year. Taking into consideration the national economic downfalls, Sullivan said there are a few uncertainties.

“Since the year 2000, we haven’t been anywhere near (a) three-and-a-half percent (increase). In fact, what we’ve averaged, annual rate, would be 1.8 percent. The slow down started quickly after 2000 but it really accelerated in the second part of that decade,” Sullivan said. “This is not just the recession. We’ve had eleven recessions since World War II…but this is the typical pattern. The economy slows, it shrinks, it starts to grow again and then it shoots up and gets us back on that three-and-a-half percent growth track within a few years. So of course this what everybody expected to be happening back in 2003, 2004, 2005.”

With the Illinois annual economic growth being less than 1 percent, 0.8 percent, Sullivan said his prediction is as follows: 2.3 percent increase for the U.S., 1.3 percent for Illinois, 1 percent for St. Louis/MSA and 1.5 for Madison County.

“In the context of the last fifteen years, these are somewhat optimistic numbers. We haven’t had these growth rates for the last fifteen years so this is optimistic,” he said. “They’re pessimistic by World War II standards, but they’re optimistic for 2000 and beyond standards.”

Sullivan said he is still keeping an eye on the economic changes that are sure to occur over the course of this year.

If there are drastic changes, Sullivan said his predictions are subject to change accordingly.

“We don’t know whether NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is going to be broken open and renegotiated, we still don’t have a budget in Springfield, then I’d probably want to slice off a tenth or two of a percentage point on the forecast. If you told me by the beginning of summer that we’ll have a budget in Springfield and some of the national things have been resolved. One way or another, regardless of how they get resolved, I’d probably want to bump up an extra tenth or two of a percentage point onto my forecast. Again it’s just the drag of the uncertainty,” he said.

Other key speakers discussed a market analysis for Class A office spaces in Edwardsville, city projects currently in the works and upcoming opportunities for local business owners as well.

For more information about local businesses or economic development, contact Walt Williams via email at or call 618-692-7533.

Council approves request made to building facade program

An application for the Commercial Building Façade Program in the amount of $14,157.50, if lead abatement is required, or for $9,952.50 was approved at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The office building at 1801 North Main St. in Edwardsville, which used to house the Klingel House Tea Room, will be affected by this approval.

Alderman Will Krause said the funds will go toward window restoration.

“This is what was formally known as the Klingel House Tea Room on the north end of the community. They will be doing window restoration and that’s why the lead abatement is in there, if that is to be found during the restoration process,” Krause said.

The improvements that will be made to the building include removing loose paint, repainting all of the wood trim, doors, windows, overhang, fascia, shutters and dormers, in addition to removing the window sash and sending the windows to Restoration Works.

With two committees in support of the application’s approval, Krause said it was moved forward unanimously.

“This did pass out of the historic preservation commission, as it is a local landmark with their approval and also passed out of finance committee with our approval,” he said.

 The property originally housed the Grace Manor restaurant before closing Sept.  5, 2012. Soon after, the Klingel House Tea Room moved in before it followed suit. According to Economic/Community Development Director Walt Williams, the property is now an office and will remain that way.

With no further discussion, Krause made the motion for approval, seconded by alderman Janet Stack.

All were in favor of its approval.

The next Edwardsville City Council meeting will take place at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 7 at City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.

TJ Maxx is coming soon to Edwardsville Crossing

EDWARDSVILLE – A sign has gone up at the edge of Edwardsville Crossing that says: TJ Maxx is coming soon. On Monday afternoon it was confirmed that is true.

TJ Maxx will occupy the old Office Depot space in Edwardsville Crossing next to Dierberg’s, Walt Williams, economic/community development director for the City of Edwardsville, said.

Kirkland’s, Ross and Men’s Wearhouse are all located close to where the new TJ Maxx will be, so it is another wonderful addition for major retailers in Edwardsville and the region, Williams said. TJ Maxx may open in Edwardsville by end of March, depending on building renovation.

“TJ Maxx will fill out that old Office Depot space nicely,” Williams said. “We are very happy that Capitol Land Group has come through and found a tenant for that location.”

When Edwardsville analyzes leakage reports, one of the top items on the list is that people tend to spend money outside the Edwardsville area at retail stores.

“We are excited about having TJ Maxx and keeping more of those dollars in the City of Edwardsville,” Williams said.

Williams added he believes the new TJ Maxx will not only be popular with adults but nearby Southern Illinois University Edwardsville students.

The TJX Companies, Inc. operates TJ Maxx and Marshalls, along with HomeGoods and Sierra Trading Post. The company website said it operates more than 3,600 stores in nine countries, with three e-commerce sites.

“We see ourselves as a global, off-price, value retailer and our mission is to deliver great value to our customers through the combination of brand, fashion, price, and quality,” the company said on the site. “We offer a rapidly changing assortment of brand name and designer merchandise at prices generally 20 percent to 60 percent below department and specialty store regular prices on comparable merchandise, every day.

With our value proposition and exciting treasure-hunt shopping experience, we believe that our demographic reach is among the widest in retail. We attract a broad range of fashion and value conscious customers across many income levels and demographic groups.”

If you have a news, human interest or sports idea, e-mail or call or text 618-623-5930. Follow Dan Brannan

How Well Did Your Business Perform in 2016


Last year proved to be another challenging year for business owners nationwide. Before we officially bring 2016 to a close, The Edwardsville Community/Economic Development Division is requesting your participation in our Small Business Quarterly Economic Survey. Your feedback will provide valuable insight to help us keep our finger on the pulse of the small business community and better advocate for you on the local, state, and federal levels.

The survey will qualify you for a drawing to win a $25.00 gift card. The survey will take approximately ten minutes to complete. Please click here to take the survey and share with us the impact the economy has had on your business during the fourth quarter of 2016  Read More.

Results will be shared at the Business Forecast Breakfast.
On an ongoing basis, the Economic Development Director will be reporting future survey results to the media and the community in general. This will help drive the programs, products, and resources the Economic Development Director provides businesses operating within the City as well as raise the visibility of the obstacles facing small businesses and the impact they make on our local economy

City of Edwardsville Economic forecast Breakfast

Event scheduled Feb. 7 at the Wildey Theatre
Published 11:52 am, Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It’s that time of year for business owners and managers to clear their schedules as the annual 2017 Economic Development Forecast Breakfast is from 7:15 a.m. to 9 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 7, at the Wildey Theatre on the third floor. Attendance is free and registration is currently ongoing.

This is the third year for the event and Economic/Community Development Director Walt Williams said he is anticipating a good turnout.

“Last year we had 160 (attendees), so hopefully we can break the 200 people mark. So far we are up to 103, after only having three days of registration,” Williams said.

Any local business owner or manager is encouraged to attend.

Williams said the idea for this breakfast originated when he wanted to expand the communications between local businesses and the city.

“This is something I started when I was in Farmington, Missouri. Our business forecast breakfast was well received, and I’ve been continuing to enhance that since I’ve been working in this field. It’s a great way to communicate with the businesses so that we know what is happening in regards to the city as well as a good way for the business owners and managers to learn what is happening in our local economy. So often we hear about the national news and the business owners and managers can get very discouraged, when we have a very good (local) economy…80 percent of our businesses do business locally. So we want to encourage them to invest, to employ, and we want to make sure that they understand the local economy. That is the purpose of the forecast breakfast,” he said. “This year we will be focusing on the office market. Last year we focused on the logistics and next year, in 2018, we will be focusing on retail.”

The breakfast will feature guest speakers, including Cathy Hamilton with the BARBERMurphy Group, as the moderator; Dr. Timothy Sullivan from SIUE will then give a national and local economic outlook and Mike Hurley from Balke Brown Transwestern will give a market analysis for Class A office spaces in Edwardsville.

Following Hurley’s presentation, the breakfast will also feature a round table discussion with Hamilton and Hurley about the current economic market.

Williams said, “We have some information to the effect that if you are considering locating or expanding here in Edwardsville, the time to build is now and because if you start looking for Class A wall space, we do not have it. So we’re trying to encourage people to build.”

With Edwardsville’s ever-growing economic development, Williams said Main Street is expected to expand even more during the new year.

“Last year we had over 67 permits in the downtown area, which accounted for $3 million into investments just on Main Street and we have a couple of projects already lined up. We are going to equal or better that total next year with what’s happening in our downtown. In addition, the city, the value of its commercial permits, was over $153 million and that is a substantial increase from the previous year,” he said. “We are optimistic that we will do very well in regards to the value of the commercial permits and the reason we concentrate on the commercial permits is EAV – Equalized Assessed Value – and that is what pays for our schools, our city services, our roads so far. So as an economic development practitioner, my goal is to increase investments, to increase the EAV so that more funds can go towards the schools, the roads, the city and the community.”

To register for this event or for more information, contact Walt Williams via email at or call 618-692-7533.