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p06 Ameren Illinois headquartersThe new Ameren Illinois headquarters under construction in Collinsville.By ALAN J. ORTBALS
    The past year saw the groundbreaking for Ameren Illinois’ new corporate headquarters in Eastport Plaza in Collinsville. Upon completion of the project later this year, the new 48,000-square-foot building will house 300 employees including some jobs that will be transferred to Collinsville from Ameren’s St. Louis headquarters.
    Also in 2018, the Collinsville Convention Authority was merged into the city, and that’s a game changer, according to City Manager Mitch Bair. The city, he says, provides the financial stability that the authority lacked. Since the May 1 merger, the city has undertaken a $2 million renovation of the center and has plans to expand the space and add a hotel that could reach $100 million in additional investment. The Gateway Center just completed its best year of business in a decade, Bair said.
    Moving into the new year, Ardent Spirits/Old Herald Brewing Company opened on Jan. 3 in the completely renovated Collinsville Herald building. And, Mungo’s Italian Eatery will open mid-February in the 1899 vintage Apex Building on East Main St. The city is launching a hospitality shuttle that will transport guests between the hotels and convention center of East Port and the restaurants and night spots of Uptown. This service will start the first weekend in January during the Let’s Go Fishing show at the Gateway Center and will continue on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
    Also, FCB Banks just announced the purchase of the former Shop ‘N Save store at 717 Vandalia St. and will be centralizing corporate operations at that location. No branches will be affected. The bank will move approximately 70 white collar jobs to the new facility and expect that number to grow to around 100.
    “This move brings high quality professional jobs to Collinsville and all of those employees will patronize Collinsville businesses as will the Ameren development,” Bair said. “I think people are starting to understand the progress we’ve made. We have a really strong city council that has demonstrated leadership and commitment to growing the market here. Developers and businesses want to be part of a community where there is stable leadership and a focus on growth and I think this council has definitely demonstrated over the last two years.”