By ALAN J. ORTBALS
Metro St. Louis is a hot spot for industrial real estate, according to a new report by Cushman & Wakefield, a global real estate services firm.
The St. Louis metropolitan area tied for sixth in the nation in terms of industrial space leased in the third quarter. With 3.3 million square feet absorbed during that period, it ran ahead of Seattle, Boston and Phoenix.
“It’s a good time to be in the industrial real estate business in St. Louis,” said John Sheahan Jr., a principal with NAI Desco, a full-service commercial real estate brokerage firm serving Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois.
It’s a good time to be in the industrial real estate business in general, according to the C&W report. Nearly 75 million square feet of space was leased across the nation during the third quarter. That figure was a 29 percent increase over the same period last year with year to date numbers being 18 percent higher than 2015. This marks 26 consecutive quarters of net occupancy gains, according to the report.
Kevin Thorpe, Cushman & Wakefield’s chief economist, says that despite a series of shocks to the U.S. economy this year and uncertainties surrounding the U.S. presidential election during the quarter, economic fundamentals remain mostly solid.
By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
EDWARDSVILLE — When Amazon speaks, the rest of the world tends to listen, so it’s no surprise that the company’s recent landing in Edwardsville has been something of a learning opportunity.
From the way in which it hires its employees to its effect upon the region’s workforce to its potential impact on other businesses, the corporate giant has caused others to take notice.
“A household name like Amazon, the largest (online) retailer in the world, it draws its own attention,” said David Stoecklin, the executive director of Madison County Employment and Training.
Amazon, of course, has hired more than 1,000 people — perhaps closer to 1,300 by some estimates — to staff two fulfillment centers, one each in new buildings constructed in Gateway Commerce Center and nearby Lakeview Commerce Center.
In his 41 years with the county, Stoecklin cannot recall a company with as big a single impact. However, he said his office was called upon little to assist the hiring process, which is rare.
“Our first contact with Amazon was well before they started their staffing process but one of the things we were made aware of very early on was that they have a very well-orchestrated plan on how they were going to staff,” he said.
The company, which was staffing at least three communities at the same time (Edwardsville, Joliet and in Wisconsin), had applicants file paperwork on line. Outside staffing firms — none from the Edwardsville market — were used by Amazon. All of the staffing agency workers must undergo a probationary period during which time they remain employees of the agency. After a successful probationary period, they become Amazon employees.
“From those applications, they called people to the community for an interview. A lot of it was done at Lewis and Clark (Community College), through some local hotels and in meetings at different spots around the region,” he said.
Amazon wasn’t looking for any kind of subsidy for the employees, just the maximum number of applications to review, he said.
“We had offered to do any number of things,” Stoecklin said. “They were very set on how this was going to happen. We just stayed out of their way and directed people to the website.”
The situation was vastly different when hiring took place for Dial, the first major warehouse in Gateway in the late 1990s. Among other things, the county helped staff a job fair for the applicants.
By ALAN J. ORTBALS
The Southern Illinois School of Business commenced a new program last year — a specialization in business analytics. There are currently 15 students enrolled and the first of them should graduate next spring.
“Some folks will be using it to launch their careers,” said Tim Schoenecker, interim dean of the SIUE School of Business. “For someone who’s already employed, it may help them with an internal promotion with their current employer.”
While just a year old, the program is already having an impact, according to Clay Williams, an associate professor and director of SIUE’s computer management and information services program.
“I know for certain it is having an impact on our recruiting,” Williams said. “A very significant percentage of the applications I’m seeing for people wanting to join our program want to do this program specialization. They earn a master’s degree with a specialization in business analytics and it goes on the student’s transcript. It is recognized academically. There is a marketplace appeal.”
Schoenecker said that when they sat down to design the program, they wanted to make sure that it would interface with all of the business school’s master programs: Master of Science in Accountancy, MBA, Master in CMIS, Master of Marketing Research, and Master of Economics and Finance. They also wanted to give it a different twist than other business analytics programs around the country.
Simmons Hanly Conroy employees donated a significant amount of canned items to five Madison County food pantries for the holidays.
The firm’s Alton office collected 25,834 pounds of food during its 10th Annual Simmons Employee Foundation Food Drive. In addition to a 5,000-pound donation of food, each pantry also received a $1,000 donation from the foundation earlier in October.