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January 7, 2013

Greetings ~


Happy New Year, and welcome to the first NewsLink edition of 2013! As we wrapped up 2012 and entered into the New Year, the Metro East saw a lot of positive news on the transportation front. Progress is being made on the high-speed rail line between Chicago and St. Louis, and a new interchange and reconstructed bridge recently opened up in Troy at Illinois Route 162 and Interstate 55/70. Preliminary design work is also underway for a new bridge in Collinsville. Read on for all these stories and more!

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Decision paces Illinois high-speed rail line (The Alton Telegraph, December 19, 2012)


The Federal Railroad Administration has selected the Rock Island Corridor as the most efficient high-speed rail route between Joliet and Chicago, and has also chosen an additional route through Springfield as a way to consolidate trains. This announcement marks the final steps needed before the high-speed rail project between St. Louis and Chicago could receive environmental approval and construction work could begin. Costing $1.5 billion, the improvement will allow the trains to travel at 110 mph, saving commuters between the two cities an hour off of their journey. High-speed rail service between Alton and Dwight, which is about an hour outside of Chicago, should be complete by 2015, with the connection from Dwight to Joliet finished by 2017. (Read More) 


New facility touts affordable health care (The Alton Telegraph, December 18, 2012)


Leadership Council member Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation recently opened the new state-of-the-art McKinley Health Center, which is located at the former McKinley School in Granite City. Funded by the Affordable Care Act Capital Development Grant, The Alton Telegraph reports that the facility cost $8.8 million to complete. The facility's services are all-encompassing and consolidate the operations of Koch Health Center and Delmar Dental Center in Granite City. With 31,800 square feet, the facility holds 36 exams rooms and will provide care for 4,500 new patients. (Read More) 


Summit Avenue Bridge to be replaced (The Suburban Journals, December 14, 2012)


Leadership Council member Oates Associates was chosen to oversee design work of a new bridge in Collinsville that will replace the 80-year-old Summit Avenue Bridge. Construction on the bridge, which was recently found to be structurally inadequate, will be completed in 2014. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, replacing the bridge will cost $800,000 with most of the funds provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The remaining funds will be provided by the City of Collinsville. Improvements will also include new guardrails, sidewalks, gutters and concrete curbs. (Read More) 


Developers lay out East Alton housing plan (The Alton Telegraph, December 19, 2012)


According to the Alton Telegraph, Alton's Board of Zoning Appeals recently approved the $15 million redevelopment of the East Alton defense housing area. The Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance will construct 46 affordable ranch-style and two-story housing units in the 300 and 400 block of East Drive, the 600 block of North Street, and the 300 and 400 block of Ohio Street. The units range from two to four-bedrooms and will be operated as rental units for 15 years before residents would qualify for purchasing the homes. In order to maintain affordability, the units will be energy-efficient in order to keep utility bills low. The project will also include new water and sewer lines, 50 on-street parking spaces, sidewalks, new streets and a new Madison County Transit shelter. The Illinois Housing Development Authority has provided the alliance with $1.3 million in tax credits to aid in the project development, which is expected to get underway by the end of 2013. (Read More) 


$23 million interchange dedicated (The Alton Telegraph, December 18, 2012)


A ribbon cutting was held on December 18 to mark the completion of the reconstructed bridge and new interchange in Troy at Illinois Route 162 and Interstate 55/70. Construction began in 2009, and the project, at a cost of $23.5 million, is the largest transportation effort funded in Illinois by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With the new renovation, the bridge is now five lanes and has brand new traffic signals and lighting. According to the Alton Telegraph, the project created or supported 300 jobs and will ease traffic congestion and ensure safer travel. The Illinois Department of Transportation's Secretary Ann Schneider attended the ribbon cutting, along with several Leadership Council members. (Read More


IMPACT to build retail center in O'Fallon, Ill. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December, 21, 2012)

 Impact Strategies Logo

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Leadership Council member IMPACT Strategies has been chosen to design and build Central Park Center, a new 9,800-square-foot retail center to be located in  O'Fallon, Ill. La Casa Mexicana restaurant and eye-care retailer All about Eyes will occupy much of the retail space. The project is scheduled to open next June. (Read More) 


Computer GED testing center expected in Downtown Granite City (The Suburban Journals, January 3, 2013)


The Walker Building on Niedringhaus Avenue in Granite City may be getting some new tenants in the near future. The Madison County Regional Office of Education, a Leadership Council member, is looking to open a center for individuals to take the computerized GED test in the building. Regional Superintendent of Schools Robert A. Daiber hopes to have the center open by fall 2013. Starting out, the center will only open three days a week, but will also provide other tests for the public. In addition to the testing center, the owner of the building has indicated that he has been working with several different businesses to become tenants. (Read More) 


More honors for Art on the Square; artists averaged more than 10K (The Belleville News-Democrat, January 2, 2013)


Art Fair Source Book has named Belleville's Art on the Square as second in the nation for 2013 Fine Arts Shows.  In the last six years, Art on the Square has received either first or second place by the Source Book, a record that hasn't been matched since the publication started operating 20 years ago. Each art show ranking was determined by average artist sales. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that last year, Art on the Square generated more than $1.5 million, with each of the 105 artists having an average of $10,025 in sales. This year's Art on the Square will be held May 17 through 19. (Read More)



Do you have an idea for a new business in the metro-east? Here's how to get it going. (The Belleville News-Democrat, January 1, 2013)


A recent article in the Belleville News-Democrat featured Leadership Council member America's Central Port's Small Business Incubator in Granite City and how it is helping small businesses get the help they need to grow. Many small businesses look to the Incubator, which is 70 percent occupied, because it offers low rent office space and business advisers to help along the way. The Incubator is located in the basement of the former army depot's headquarters and has helped launch dozens of small businesses since it was founded in 2002. The facility is currently undergoing renovations and will be renamed the Enterprise Center. The article also featured a recent investment made by Leadership Council member Jim Allsup, of Allsup, Inc., who recently pledged a donation of $2.2 million to the Center for Entrepreneurship at St. Louis University's John Cook School of Business.  The donation will support aspiring entrepreneurs through the Allsup Summer Entrepreneurship Academy. (Read More) 



In Other News




Kern says future of metro-east economy is its transportation (Belleville News-Democrat, January 4, 2013)


On January 4, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern was part of a panel of area government officials that gathered to discuss the "State of St. Louis." According to the Belleville News-Democrat, during the panel, Kern pointed out that the area's transportation expansion efforts will continue to promote economic growth, and that cooperation between St. Louis City and County, St. Charles County and St. Clair County will be the key to the area's ongoing success. He specifically mentioned some of the area's transportation accomplishments, which include the construction of the Mississippi River Bridge and the high-speed rail system between St. Louis and Chicago. He also emphasized the importance of Scott Air Force Base to our region and noted that while the economy is still problematic, St. Clair County's revenue is getting back to levels seen in 2008. The panel was conducted by the St. Louis Business Journal and, along with Kern, featured St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann and Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones. (Read More) 



Contact Information

Ellen Krohne

 Executive Director

Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois



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