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The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois is celebrating 40 years of ‘Uniting the Region for Growth’ assisting government and business leaders in growing our region. Over the course of this time, the Leadership Council has worked diligently on regionally significant projects and continues to do so. In an effort to coalesce the region once again and further focus its efforts, the Leadership Council released its 2023 Southwestern Illinois: Today and Tomorrow Strategic Plan to a crowd of over 120 CE Os, Business Leaders, and Strategic Partners at its recent Board of Directors meeting at the Collinsville DoubleTree.

“The Leadership Council has been very successful in building the necessary coalitions to help unite and support our region,” stated Leadership Council President Gary Hoelscher. “This plan lays out how we will continue this effort as the region’s needs change and approaches to economic development progress!”

The Council hired local economic development consulting firm Steadfast City to lead the plan’s development charge. Steadfast City started by conducting an existing conditions analysis focusing on the region’s demographics, including population change by age and educational attainment. In addition, they conducted an economic and industry assessment focusing on workforce, current business anchors, and momentum makers.

“The Leadership Council tasked us with establishing an understanding of the current business climate and to develop strategic actions their organization could take to help government and business leaders grow Southwestern Illinois. This plan lays out roles the Council can take in a wide variety of economic development efforts, especially focusing on Business Retention and Expansion efforts, and building a brand for all 9 counties of Southwestern Illinois,” stated Steadfast City founder & CEO Doug Rasmussen.

Once a baseline was established of current economic conditions, the consulting team with Leadership Council staff conducted one-on-one interviews with key community stakeholders including county officials and business leaders from across the region. The Leadership Council strives to work with county and government leaders to help realize the vision they have for their respective county or city. As a result, their input was vital to ensuring our vision was in alignment with theirs. With Southwestern Illinois covering a wide array of industries and business sectors, we met with business leaders from across the spectrum to discuss their businesses, what they anticipated in the short and long term, and what types of actions needed to be taken to address those issues. The Leadership Council looks forward to presenting the plan to each of our 9 county boards and will be hosting regional events to lay the groundwork to ensure Southwestern Illinois moves forward!