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Economic Power Zones

Southwestern Illinois is an industrial, manufacturing, and supply chain distribution logistics powerhouse supported by a strong agricultural base. The Leadership Council continues to “unite the region for growth” by identifying business clustering, economic power zones of significant revenue generation and job creation, and telling the story of Southwestern Illinois. Over $19B dollars in prominent industry clusters ranging from advanced & light manufacturing to long existing heavy industry with strong agriculture, food processing, biomedical healthcare, data centers, finance and insurance, aviation, metal fabrication, e-commerce, green energy, energy production, chemical and medical processing, multi-modal transportation networks, cybersecurity and geospatial Intelligence innovation sectors that make up this industrial, manufacturing, and technology powerhouse! And with all of the growth and development underway in the region, thousands of acres of available, shovel-ready, cost effective sites neighboring these leaders in industry exist along America’s core multi-modal transportation systems.

To support the businesses and industry, a strong focus has been placed on workforce readiness with an investment in people. SWIL has a passionate and innovative workforce with the STEM and technical skills needed in high technology, automation, and artificial intelligent fields of future. For over 5 years, the Workforce 2030 Program has built awareness for STEM, technical, and construction trades skills enabling smooth connectivity to education, training, and certificate programs. This grassroots outreach program has reached over 40,000 k-12 and collegiate students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community residents and continues to grow each year. Higher education in our region is working together to create a workforce-ready learning environment focused on industry-specific innovation. This network of higher education provides focused, technical training to meet the workforce needs of area employers and the growing demand in AI, automation and robotics. Local workforce development organizations and leaders consistently look for ways to encourage growth in different labor sectors through special events and campaigns resulting in a diverse, highly trained workforce. SWIL has some of the finest k-12, secondary, and higher education institutions in the country with thousands of well-educated and productive students and residents waiting to help grow your business!

Growth in forward and backward integration businesses related to each economic power zone industry cluster have also been identified as drivers in each of the areas listed below.

Advanced and Light Manufacturing

Southwestern Illinois has long been an heavy industry and production area for decades with firms like U.S. Steel, Alton Steel, Olin Brass, Siemens Manufacturing, SunCoke Energy, Solvay Fluorides, Monsanto, and others. These heavy industry leaders have been strong contributors to SWIL employing thousands of employees. As time progressed over the past several decades, Southwestern Illinois has seen a rapid growth of advanced and light manufacturing firms rooted in almost every community, such as Progressive Recovery Inc, Eaton Corporation, Belleville Boot, Cope Plastics, Heidtman Steel Products, Western Nonwovens, The Roho Group, Murphy Mechanical, Nascote Industries, Antolin Nashville, and many others. Many of these prominent manufacturers located in the region due to availability of processing resources, easy access to multi-modal transportation system and world markets, strong and productive technical workforce, cost effective availability of prime site developments, and cost effective utility rates. Southwestern Illinois has continued to see growth in the areas of advanced and light manufacturing especially related to automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence technologies and innovations.

Energy/Green Energy

The energy sector has long been a foundational industry cluster operating within Southwestern Illinois for over a century. Prominent industry leaders, such as Phillips 66, ExxonMobil, and Valero, have been in the petroleum refining and processing business employing thousands of employees. Phillips 66 has invested over $4B in new and advanced refining processing investments in recent years to keep pace with new technologies within the industry. As refiners in coastal areas are shut down due to weather challenges, Phillips 66 is up and running to supply the nation’s requirements for petroleum products (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, etc.) all year long. This is a strategic advantage for the region and for the petroleum firms operating in the area. Southwestern Illinois is also known for its cost effective utility rates due the abundance of energy firms, such Ameren Illinois, Illinois American Water, Dynegy, Southwestern Illinois Cooperative, Monroe County Electrical Coop, AmitEnergy, Prairie State Energy Campus, Waste Management, and others. Utility Infrastructure investments have topped $2B over the past 5 years due to the anticipated future economic development in Southwestern Illinois. Additionally, Prairie State Energy Complex is a state-of-the-art facility built only a few years ago at a cost of approximately $4B dollars. This high tech utility producer was built to provide regional energy for future generational needs of a growing economic development outlook. In recent years, Southwestern Illinois has seen significant investments in green energy (wind, solar, and renewable fuels) from companies, like Ameren Illinois, Great Plains Renewable Energy, Straight Up Solar, and Center Ethanol.

Southwestern Illinois provides optimal energy options at cost effective rates to existing and new site developments with superior quality of reliability and customer service. The region has utility mapping capabilities to enable to identification of the highest and best use of existing resources and future planning for new business investments.

Agriculture/Food Processing

As the northern most ice-free port, Southwestern Illinois serves as a U.S. Centric port to world markets for agricultural products, such as corn, soybeans, and wheat, from central U.S. and Canada. The most prominent names in agriculture call Southwestern Illinois home such as ADM, Bunge NA, Cargill, Consolidated Grain & Barge Systems (CGS), Ingram Barge, Louis Dryfus, America’s Central Port, SCF, Gavilon Fertilizer, and Cofco. Many of these grain and barge facilities are located on a 15 mile section of the Mississippi River handling 150 barges per day and providing the highest level of barging capacity anywhere on the Mississippi River according the St. Louis Freightway. We also have a strong domestic market for peaches, strawberries, apples, horseradish, and other seasonal fruits and vegetables. Several of the regions animal and fisheries producers provide pork, beef, poultry, inland river and pond fish, milk, and other products exported to the international market. As a result of these regional agricultural products, we have many ag and food producers in the market place, such as Kraft Foods, Prairie Farms, RalCorp, Deli Star, Kuna Meat, Hansen Meat Co, Branding Iron (Holten Meat Co), Treehouse Brands, Capri Sun, The Republic of Tea, Eckert’s, and other prominent brands. Agriculture and food processing has been a foundational backbone of Southwestern Illinois for centuries.

Chemical Industry and Medical Processing

Southwestern Illinois has long been a chemical and medical processing hub with prominent firms, such as Eastman Chemical, Afton Chemical, Air Products & Chemicals, Chem Trade Logistics, FlexSys-Eastman Chemical, Mallinkrodt, Solvay Florides, Vertex Chemical and Progressive Recovery, Inc. to just name a few firms. Many of these firms employ hundred of people in multiple communities. Southwestern Illinois has been a strong supporter of business and industry that traditionally would not be welcomed into many communities around the country. Many of these firms have been in the region before the surrounding communities grew up around them and were often occupied by employees of the facilities, such as the former Monsanto Solution Plant Facility (now Eastman Chemical) that was located in Sauget, Illinois. These firms employ hundreds of employees and have contributed to the local economy for decades.

Warehouse/Distribution/Supply Chain

The financial multi-modal, utility, and waterway infrastructure investments in the region have been impressive especially when it is matched to equally attractive incentives and ease of permitting and regulatory procedures making SWIL a prime location for any existing and new developments consisting of world’s largest, most recognizable brands. Southwestern Illinois has become a supply-chain distribution hub for warehouse and logistics operations as it sits at the crossroads of Interstates 40, 55, 64, and 70. With some of the most prominent supply chain warehouse distribution names, such as Amazon, DB Schenker, Dial, Hersey, Menasha, OHL, P&G, Unilever, Royal Canin, and Walgreens to just name a few located in Gateway Commerce Center named as one of the hottest warehouse distribution logistics parks in the nation by Cushman Wakefield. The region has multiple prime site “shovel ready” development and industrial parks, such as Lakeview Commerce Center, ,Gateway Commerce Center, Gateway Tradeport, Sauget Business Park, Rock City Business Complex, America’s Central Port, University Park at SIUE, and Aviation Parks, and Nots Logistics ready to help any firm get up and running quickly.

Multi-Modal Transportation

Continued investment in the multi-modal transportation infrastructure drives the economic engine in Southwestern Illinois that attracts industries from all business sectors. For moving commodities and goods, Southwestern Illinois is home to six, class 1 railroads and is the northern most, ice-free, lock-free river port and home to America’s Central Port. It is served by St. Louis Lambert International Airport and 3 regional airports – MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, St. Louis Regional Airport and St. Louis Downtown Airport. With over $2.4B in new multi-modal transportation infrastructure investments, this location has attracted some of the most well-known developers to the area. The region has also seen a recent investment of over $200M to restore two intercontinental connecting rail bridges (Merchant and MacArthur Rail Bridges) providing the nation with coast-to-coast rail, barge, and truck service to anywhere in the country. Many prominent firms operate in this industry segment to support forward and backwards integration capacity, including Metro East Industries, Boeing, Gulfstream (Division of General Dynamics), West Star Aviation, Ingram Barge, Alton and Southern Railroad, Terminal Railroad Association, BNSF, Cassen’s Transport, CN, CSX, R&L Carriers, Schneider National, Stock Transport, Truck Centers, Jung Trucking, and many others. This is growing industry segment employing thousands of skilled people.

Cyber Security/GIS/Defense Contractors/STEM

Southwestern Illinois has seen decades of development in the technology, innovation, robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence foundation that has led to regional expertise in cyber security, geospatial intelligence, multi-modal transportation, supply chain distribution logistics, and many other related fields due to the leadership, expertise, and experience of the U.S. Military operating at Scott AFB and its 4 wings (active duty Air Force, Guard, Reserve, Civil Servants, and Military Spouses), 36 mission partners Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), Cyberspace Capabilities Center (CCC), Air Mobility Command (AMC), 18th Air Force, 618th Supply Chain Operations Command, and DOD federal contractors, such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Worldwide Technologies, Raytheon, General Dynamics, SuperTek, and other prominent firms. Additionally, SAFB has many senior level leaders with extensive expertise that retire or transition from the military with many remaining in the workforce, so many technology and aviation firms set up operations within the area to hire from this amazing poll of outstanding candidates. This emerging market segment continues to grow at a rapid rate employing thousands of high caliber leaders in all industry segments.


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