Metro East news briefs

AllianceSTL, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois and the Monroe County Economic Development Corp. hold a luncheon in Chicago for site selection consultants, real estate executives and trade and investment representatives from Japan, Germany, and the UK.
(Photo courtesy of AllianceSTL)

New private sector push for economic development     

A new St. Louis Regional Economic Development Alliance — announced in February by a trio of the region’s most powerful business organizations — will bring new focus and additional private sector resources to the area’s search for solid economic development opportunities, according to a spokesperson.

A joint-project of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the business roundtable known as Civic Progress, and the St. Louis Regional Business Council, AllianceSTL will roughly triple the number of fulltime personnel working to identify new opportunities and secure business investment in the region, according to AllianceSTL spokeswoman Courtney Mueller.

That can be a surprisingly complex task involving a range of marketing functions, Mueller said.  Among them: basic research on industry trends; identification of businesses eyeing new or expanded facilities; initial contact with company representatives; development of business-specific information on St. Louis-area locations; and marketing presentations to site selectors, she said.

In addition to actively searching for businesses, here and around the nation, that may be pursuing expansion, AllianceSTL will be pro-actively promoting development sites around the St. Louis area to a national market, Mueller said. AllianceSTL will serve that same 15 county area covered by the St. Louis Regional Chamber.

Just last week, AllianceSTL partnered with Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois and the Monroe County Economic Development Corp to host a luncheon in Chicago for site selection consultants, real estate executives and trade and investment representatives from Japan, Germany, and the UK. This luncheon was part of an ongoing program by the AllianceSTL organizations to market the St. Louis region and Southwestern Illinois.

Prior to AllianceSTL, the St. Louis Regional Chamber had already worked on several projects in the Metro East, including an effort with Bond County officials to market development sites near Greenville, Mueller noted.

“It is important that Metro East knows that we have been and will continue to work on their behalf,” AllianceSTL CEO Steve Johnson. Johnson formerly served as the CEO of Missouri Partnership, the state of Missouri’s public-private economic development organization.

Until now, the private sector only had about five people devoted primary to regional business recruitment services the St. Louis area, Mueller said. The new entity will have around 15 with a $4 million annual budget, putting it on a par with the best programs in comparable regions, Mueller said.

Mueller takes exception to a report in the March 6 Metro East Chronicle that Civic Progress —an organization comprised of the chief executive officers of the 33 largest corporations in the St. Louis area — had effectively abandoned support for the St. Louis Economic Partnership (SLEDP), as a leading economic development agency in the region.

Jim Alexander, AllianceSTL senior vice president for economic development, speaks at Chicago meeting.
(Photo courtesy of AllianceSTL)

Instead, AllianceSTL will provide a new level of private sector business recruitment support, complementing the functions provided by public sector agencies, Mueller says.

“Successfully marketing to large corporations and developers — notoriously secretive about their plans — requires a deliberate focus on understanding and solving the client’s pressing business issues,” said Mueller. “It also calls for a seamless process between all the private and public entities involved in the company’s recruitment.  Helping to manage that overall process and ensuring it’s invisible to the client is a key role for AllianceSTL.”

“AllianceSTL is a private sector organization focused on regional, bi-state business recruitment and expansion services, and is complementary to SLEDP’s work in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County,” Mueller continued. “AllianceSTL will work with SLEDP, St. Charles County EDC, Madison County Community Development, St. Clair County, Intersect Illinois, Leadership Council Southwest Illinois and others to increase the number of companies and jobs coming to the St. Louis region.”


East St. Louis mayor honored as history maker

Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks, the first female chief executive of the City of East St. Louis, was recognized as a contemporary history maker, March 13, by the State of Illinois Members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; in conjunction of the annual observance of Women’s History Month.

In an online tribute, the sorority — consisting primarily of African-American business and professional women — noted that Mayor Jackson-Hicks recently served as a member of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Transition Team on Job Creation and Economic Development.

Founded in 1913 by 22 at Howard University, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, today has more than 200,000 members in more than 900 chapters located across the United States and in seven other nations.

Currently, six Alumnae Deltas serve in Congress.

Mayor Jackson-Hicks joined the sorority while pursuing her accounting degree at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Its 230-member Delta Sigma Theta Sorority East St. Louis Alumnae Chapter, chartered in 1942,  is best known for its Delta Child Development Center at 1012 South 15th Street.

Since 1988, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.


Area businesses raising funds for clean water in Africa

Fourteen Metro East restaurants — and a chiropractic practice — will mark World Water Day, this Friday, March 22, by raising funds to provide safe, sustainable sources of drinking water in some of the poorest areas of Africa.

The 15 Belleville, O’Fallon and Edwardsville establishments will donate a portion of proceeds to Illinois-based Marion Medical Mission, which has brought clean water to over four million throughout Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia, through well-digging and other projects.

World Water Day is an annual United Nations observance day that highlights the importance of freshwater. It has been celebrated around the world with a variety of events since 1993.

UNICEF reports that in sub-Sahara Africa, one in five children die before their fifth birthday because they lack potable water. 663 million people around the globe rely on ponds, streams and other exposed and untreated sources for their drinking water.

The following restaurants will donate 5 percent of their proceeds from 5 to 9 p.m. (unless otherwise indicated):

–1818 Chophouse in Edwardsville and O’Fallon,

–Beast Craft BBQ Co. in Belleville,

–Bella Milano in O’Fallon,

–Bennie’s Pizza Pub in Belleville,

–Copper Fire in Belleville,

–Hofbräuhaus St. Louis in Belleville,

–Mi Casa in Belleville,

–Pour @ 322 Coffee in Belleville (hours: 3-7 p.m.),

–Seven in Belleville

–Sweet Katie Bee’s Cupcake & Coffee Bar in O’Fallon (hours: 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.)

— Syberg’s in O’Fallon

–Tavern on Main in Belleville, and

–Uncle Nick’s Deli in Belleville (hours: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.).

Dr. Eric Toennies at TriForce Chiropractic in O’Fallon will donate 50 percent of office revenues during the entire day.

For additional information, call (618) 980-2267 or visit .


Madison Co. considers $1.37 million in parks grants

The Madison County Board is set to consider $1.37 million in Park Enhancement Program (PEP) grants during meeting tonight (March 20).

PEP grants from $15,000 to $150,920 are proposed for a multi-use trail, memorial wall, playground equipment, senior center equipment, ADA compliant pavilions, pickleball courts, and other projects.

The funding come from a 1/10th of one percent sales tax, approved by voters in 2000 under the Illinois Metro-East Park and Recreation District Act and is administered by Madison County Community Development.

Matching shares are required from cities, villages, townships or park districts funds to finance the projects.

The county board’s grants committee approved the $1,371,495 in proposed parks and recreation grants, March 4,  with approval by the county’s parks and recreation grant commission approved following on March 8.


Chapel dusts off old piano during renovations

Mascoutah’s Espenschied Chapel, 317 N. County Road, celebrates completion of extensive renovations, March 22, with a performance by classically-trained and internationally known folk, jazz and blues musician Radoslav Lorkovich.

The 91-year-old secular cemetery chapel — now commonly used for concerts civic functions, weddings, and christenings, as well as funerals — has been refitted with a new reception area, dressing room, kitchen, HVAC, roof, gutters, reception area, restrooms, and ADA-compliant entrance ways.

Among the items uncovered during renovations, a rare 1849 Steinway square grand piano.

“We couldn’t believe how good it sounded until we heard (Lorkovich) play it,” commented chapel staff person Jeanne Bullard.


SIUE family theater presents Season for the Child

A Season for the Child (SfC), the family-oriented live theater season sponsored by the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Friends of Theater and Dance (FOTAD), will present its second production of the season: “Myth, Mystique & Magic.”

“Myth, Mystique & Magic” will be performed by StagePlay Learning at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 23 in Dunham Hall Theater on the SIUE campus.

Individual tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children. They may be purchased through the Theater and Dance Box Office at 618-650-2774, and at the door the day of the performance.

“Myth, Mystique & Magic” is an original play created by StagePlay Learning Productions and includes tales of ancient times and far-away lands travel along the spring breeze, looking for a place to land.

The public is invited to attend and be a part of the mystical, magical garden of mythology in this interactive play. Audience members will be encouraged to participate.

SfC, which premiered in 1990, features adaptations of various children’s stories using interactive techniques that not only delight children and parents, but also provide a thorough learning experience.