04/11/13 – Leadership Council Salutes Past, Present and Future at 30th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Awards Dinner

Edwardsville, Ill., April 11, 2013… A crowd of almost 400 gathered last week to help the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois mark its 30th anniversary at a special event celebrating the individuals and organizations that founded the Leadership Council, the transformation of the Southwestern Illinois region over the past three decades and the Council’s vision of the bright future that lies ahead.

The annual Salute to Southwestern Illinois Awards Dinner not only honored recent contributors to the success of Southwestern Illinois, but  also served as the primary celebration for the milestone anniversary as the Leadership Council marked its 30 years of service to Southwestern Illinois.

Former executive director Jim Pennekamp, who served in that capacity from 1989 thru 2005, served as emcee for the evening’s festivities, which unfolded under the theme, 30 Years. One Voice. Guests learned over the course of the evening that the “One Voice” the Leadership Council represents is the voice of many individuals; people from business, industry, government, education and labor who, for 30 years, have worked together with one mission in mind – uniting the region for economic growth.

The program kicked off with a salute to the Council’s original founding board members and early staff, several of whom were in attendance, and was followed by a celebration of the past three decades of growth. The feature presentation, led by Leadership Council President Dr. Ronda Sauget, visually showcased the transformation of many aspects of the region as investments in infrastructure, education, healthcare, multimodal facilities, individual communities, Scott Air Force Base and more have dramatically changed the Metro East landscape.

“As the Leadership Council celebrates its 30th Anniversary, we take great pride in the fact that this organization played a role in supporting or delivering so many of the landscape-changing projects that have shaped our region,” noted Sauget. “And for those projects we weren’t directly involved in, you, our members, where the ones leading the charge,” she told the audience.

The 2013 Salute to Southwestern Illinois awards were another highlight of the evening, as the Leadership Council honored Prairie State Generating Company, Phillips 66 and Dynegy for their significant recent investments in the Metro East, along with The Southwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council, representing labor’s partnership in the completion of those companies’ major construction projects.

Prairie State Generating Company was recognized for its $4 billion investment in building the Prairie State Energy Campus in Marissa, which contributes $734 million in economic activity annually to the Southwestern Illinois region and has helped create hundreds of jobs for area residents.  Phillips 66 was honored for its $3.8 billion Coker and Refinery expansion in Roxana. In the wake of that investment, studies estimate that the plant today has an economic impact of more than $1.9 billion per year on the region. Dynegy was recognized for its $1 billion investment in four Illinois facilities over the past decade, including the $668 million investment made in the Southwestern Illinois plants. Additionally, the Leadership Council recognized Southwestern Illinois’ labor partnership for the critical role the unions played in successfully delivering all three projects, with the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council accepting the award on behalf of all the trades groups. In all, 48.5 million man hours supported the completion of almost $9 billion in work at those facilities here in Southwestern Illinois, with the majority of those hours by the local trades.

While those completed projects now support several hundred new permanent jobs in our region, Sauget used her closing remarks to stress that other investments underway or in the pipeline also will provide new jobs in our region. Among the positive developments highlighted were the expansions coming to Boeing and North Bay Produce at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport and to other multimodal facilities across our region; the plans for expansion by Prairie Farms and Kraft Foods; and the work proceeding on the Metro East levees, at the new South Harbor at America’s Central Port and on the New Mississippi River Bridge. She noted that these new investments and the new jobs they will create are coming to the Metro East because of the superior transportation infrastructure, available land and quality workforce that position Southwestern Illinois as a prime location for logistics and distribution. The Leadership Council believes the region’s multimodal advantages will be a key driver of future growth, and is working hard to support and attract that growth through its Southwestern Illinois Transportation Enhancement initiative, otherwise known as SITE.

Sauget wrapped up by emphasizing how the Leadership Council must continue to look to the future to identify new opportunities for growth that will come to Southwestern Illinois, despite the state’s fiscal challenges.

“While we continue to urge our legislators to address that critical issue, we know it’s not the only challenge we need to overcome to secure the bright future we see ahead,” stated Sauget. “But, just like we mobilized and responded quickly during the BRAC process and to FEMA’s efforts to wipe our levees off the map, we will rise to the occasion.  Doing so in today’s competitive global economy will require thoughtful planning and an increasingly strategic approach. That’s what makes the Leadership Council as relevant and as important today as it was 30 years ago. We ask you to stay engaged with us in the years to come as we continue to serve as One Voice for Southwestern Illinois.  Working strategically, and working together, remains the key unlocking our region’s future potential.”

The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois is a member-based, economic development corporation representing Madison and St. Clair counties. The Council works to unite business, industry, government, education and labor for economic growth in Southwestern Illinois. These effective partnerships serve as a driving force behind successful economic development efforts throughout the Metro East region. The Leadership Council also publishes the annual Market Review & Investment Update, which chronicles the total value of projects announced, under construction or completed each year in Madison and St. Clair counties, with most recent edition for 2011 showing almost $6 billion in investments.  

For more information, contact:

Julie Hauser, The Hauser Group, Inc. 314.436.9090