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Year in Review 2013: Southwestern Illinois

A few words about the year gone by — and a new one dead ahead

Here’s to 2013, a very ... intriguing year.
    For some businesses, the past 12 months has been a swing period, as the nation continues to climb out of the hole left by the meteoric miasma that struck the national economy in 2008.
    We’re happy to say that things are looking up. We talk to dozens of businesses every month and have a pretty good sense of the local attitude. We believe that most industry remains hopeful about 2014, even as they recount the successes of the past year.
    We asked businesses to recap how the past annum went. On the following pages you’ll find their responses, in their own words.  Turns out, many local employers were kept quite busy, with new services, products and projects. Some of those represent substantial investments — investments that are generally being felt by the entire Metro East community.
    Even the Illinois Business Journal had news to report in September when founder Kerry Smith departed to start a new information research business. Smith sold her interest to partner Alan Ortbals, who became president and publisher and brought on a new editor, Southwestern Illinois newspaper veteran Dennis Grubaugh. As of the first of the year the pair have forged a new partnership — and a commitment by this newspaper to continue to cover the issues, trends, big stories and people who keep business rolling in these parts.
    A lot of long-term projects were accomplished in 2013. We noted completion of Illinois 255 through to Godfrey, opening up a new corridor for growth in northwestern Madison County. We watched the closure of the gap on the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge at St. Louis, which will be opened on Feb. 9.
    We also saw the potential for a gap closure in state pension debt (more about that subject later in this issue). That single issue is as much to blame for the state’s fiscal concern as any one variable. Resolving it is critical for all of Illinois, and recent agreements are noteworthy.
    Yes, there are harbingers of good cheer all around. We’re seeing foreclosures down, bank lending up, record-breaking Dow Jones numbers  — it’s like watching the first seedlings of a new plant break through the soil, heading upward, after a period of drought. Can it continue? We remain optimistic.
    Please enjoy our special Spotlight Year in Review.