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Year in Review 2014: Southwestern Illinois

Madison County’s progress puts it in good shape for 2015

    In the years to come, elected officials, community leaders and the people of Madison County may very well identify 2014 as a breakthrough year, certainly one of the most pivotal years in the county’s history.
    In 2014, after more than six years of job losses and stagnant growth during a deep recession, Madison County enjoyed substantial growth and continued to see significant investments in a variety of industry sectors resulting in the creation of jobs and a gradual increase in economic prosperity for communities, businesses and residents.  That growth and new investment is a positive result of the careful planning, commitment to infrastructure development and effective promotion of a welcoming, positive business environment by Madison County leadership, a commitment that will continue in 2015 and for years to come.   
    In October of 2013, the unemployment rate in Madison County was a disappointing 8.2 percent.  The result of investments made in Madison County by existing businesses, combined with successful efforts to attract new businesses, resulted in a one-year drop in the unemployment rate to 5.7 percent.  While those figures represent major improvement, more work needs to be, and is, being done.  One of Madison County governments’ ultimate priorities is a job for every county resident who wants to work.       
    Throughout the county we have examples of companies creating construction and long-term jobs.  The multi-million-dollar expansion by West Star Aviation at the St. Louis Regional Airport in East Alton and the recently completed multi-billion-dollar expansion of the Wood River Refinery are two excellent examples of companies that have committed to Madison County and created jobs, and there are many others.
    We continue to see significant investments in a variety of industry sectors, but are particularly excited about the many projects solidifying Madison County’s position as one of the country’s premier logistical hubs offering outstanding multimodal capabilities.  The continuing investment at Gateway Commerce Center by Proctor & Gamble, World Wide Technologies and others accents the cooperation and support that exists in Madison County between elected officials, community leaders, the construction industry and labor unions that, when combined with an exceptional infrastructure system and our county’s central location, contribute to a progressive business environment.
    One project of significant importance to all of Southwestern Illinois is the renovation of the levees that protect our homes and businesses from the Mississippi River. This project is currently underway and is scheduled for completion in 2015. The levee renovation project, the continued expansion and enhancement of America’s Central Port, and the many improvements to our highway and bridge system have enabled Madison County to create a successful business environment that leads to increased income for our area and, importantly, jobs for our residents.
    Dunstan is chairman of the Madison County Board.