Metro East news briefs

Bob Daiber

Delegation pitches Metro East to Japanese business group

Community partnerships and quality of life were among the themes as a delegation of local government, academic and business leaders met with one of Japan’s most powerful business organizations, in Washington, D.C., to discuss opportunities in Metro East.

The roundtable conference with representatives of Keidanren USA was the latest in a series of meetings with major business groups, according to Dr. Ronda Sauget, executive director and CEO of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois.

Presenting during the meeting were Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler, on “Community Partnerships and Quality of Life in Madison County;” Jim Alexander, senior vice president of Alliance STL, on St. Louis Region Highlights; Sauget on the Southwestern Illinois economy; Michael G. Mueller, vice president for economic development with Ameren Illinois, on energy incentives; Dr. Randy Pembrook, Chancellor of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, on “Academic Strengths and Partnerships”; Dennis Wilmsmeyer, executive director of America’s Central Port, on logistics and transportation assets; and Mayor Herb Roach of O’Fallon on quality of life in his community.

Keidanren USA, is the American liaison entity for Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation; one of three major business organizations in the nation. Its membership includes  1,329 Japanese companies, 109 industry associations and 47 regional economic organizations.

Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois and Alliance STL, St. Louis Regional Economic Development, organized the event.


Daiber launches bid for County Board chair

Longtime Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Bob Daiber plans to run for the chairmanship of the Madison County Board during next year’s November general election.

Daiber has been regional superintendent for the past 12 years and decided not to seek reelection in 2018.  Last year, he was one of six primary candidates for the Democratic nomination for Illinois governor — which ultimately went to now-Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Daiber has been Madison County regional superintendent for the past 12 years but in 2018 announced he would not seek reelection to the post.

He is a former Marine village trustee, Marine Township supervisor, and Madison County Board member.

Daiber formally announced his candidacy for the County Board chair on June 13 at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall in Collinsville. Among the roughly 75 supporters on hand were union officials, municipal officials, State Rep. Monica Bristow (D-Alton) and several elected Democratic countywide officeholders.

Not present however was Madison County Democratic Party Chairman Mark Von Nida, who praised Daiber in a written statement as a 30-year veteran of area politics but noted the Madison County Democratic Central Committee has not yet endorsed a nominee.

Past County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan, a Democrat defeated by Republican Prenzler in 2016, has not yet formally announced whether he will again seek the office.

The County Board race will likely heat up in September, when candidates can begin circulating nominating petitions for the March 2020 primary.


TRRA receives $28.8 million grant for MacArthur Bridge

The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has announced a $28.8 million grant to the Terminal Railroad Association (TRRA) of St. Louis, to replace the main span girders on the MacArthur Bridge crossing the Mississippi River.

The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration is allocating money for improvements to the MacArthur Bridge crossing the Mississippi River. (Photo courtesy of

The main span girder replacement is key part of $57.3 million renovation of the bridge; funded through a public private partnership between the TRRA and the Federal Railroad Administration. Each will provide approximately 50 percent of the funding needed to complete the project.

The FRA grant follows a $7.1 million federal fiscal year 2017 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant, announced earlier this year, to replace the Broadway Street truss on the west approach to the MacArthur Bridge.

“Together, both projects will extend the life of the bridge to approximately 2085, allow for dimensional loads and enable it to continue to serve the St. Louis region freight and passenger rail network,” Terminal Railroad said in a statement.


Local elected officials gather for Metro East development confab

Elected officials from eight counties gathered for a Metro East Economic Development Seminar, June 7, co-hosted by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) and Madison County Community Development (MCCD) on the university campus.

Main topics: principles of economic development and positioning communities for growth, finding and using data, strategies for encouraging small business engagement, best practices for being development friendly, tourism as an economic driver, and the importance of building livable communities, according to MCCD Director Trudy Bodenbach.

A featured panel discussion, moderated by Morris Taylor, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Public Administration and Policy Analysis, included:

  • Eric Gowin: Founder of Contegra Construction Company,
  • Jo Ann DiMaggio May: Director of the Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center at SIUE,
  • Tim Sullivan, Ph.D., instructor in the SIUE School of Business Department of Economics and Finance,
  • Brett Stawar: President/CEO of Great Rivers and Routes Convention and Tourism Bureau,
  • Dennis Wilmsmeyer: Executive director of America’s Central Port,

SIUE and MCCD plan to offer additional local and regional economic development meetings for Metro East communities over the coming months.

In a related note, the Madison County Economic Development Corporation and Commission (EDC), currently a function of Madison County government, is considering establishment of an independent, not-for-profit Madison County EDC.


Associate judge nominees sought in Third Circuit

The Third Illinois Judicial Circuit Court, covering Madison and Bond counties, has begun formally searching for a new associate judge.

The Third Circuit’s nine judges, in a secret ballot earlier this month, voted not retrain associate Judge Jennifer Hightower.  She will continue to serve on the bench through June 30.

Chief Judge William A. Mudge called for nominees to the court in a June 13 notice to members of the Illinois Bar.

Hightower is one of the youngest judges ever appointed in Madison County.

All 12 of the circuit’s other Madison County associate judges were retained.