We have a composite population of about 350,000 people spread over 6700 square miles. Two of the five poorest counties in Illinois are within this footprint. The same 16 counties are also designated part of the Delta Regional Authority’s federally designate footprint. This is based on economic weakness. We are rolling hills with much farmland, bordered by the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Coal mining was a big part of the economy and the industry peaked 30 years ago. We only have two towns over 20,000 in population in the region. The only 4 year college Southern Illinois University has had declining enrollment from year, from a peak enrollment of 25,000, on campus enrollment is just under $10,000. We have two major interstates and major rail thru the area with a few key manufacturers with employment over 3000 each. The topography supports two wine trails with over 30 wineries and new breweries and distilleries growing. Tourism is a small yet growing industry. We need to educate our young people on the opportunities and needs of the business sector in hopes they may stay.
Do you come from an underrepresented group, industry or geography?
YES! I would love to think there might be one other person from the 16 county footprint I represent attending the Summit, or even a Mayor from the region attending your Mayors Conference, but it’s highly, highly doubtful. Regardless, I believe there is great need to attend and bring some of the magic of the Summit back to Southern Illinois! I dare say that with the geographical underrepresentation that you can say that many groups, like chambers, development groups with the 16 county are also under represented.
Tell us about your community — whether that’s geographic or demographic or a little of both.
As someone that has grown up in Southern Illinois, moved away and comeback to the region, as director of marketing for a small architecture firm, our market is primarily the lower 15-18 counites that make up Southern Illinois. From a formal and informal perspective I am invested in many corners and crevasses of the 18 county region. We are con
I live in Southern Illinois, a 18 county region of the southernmost part of Illinois. We have a composite population of about 350,000 people spread over 6700 square miles.
The primary and infatic goal of attending the Summit, is simple, to learn and absorb as much as I can to share with a countless network of sanctioned and non sanctioned groups, business leaders, and individuals that all value and recognize the importance of entrepeuers in their backyards, communities, counties and region. Southern Illinois as a region is facing many challenges that many in rural America also face, declining population, contracting property values, brain drain, teacher shortages, lack of educated workforce, lack of tech and vocational training, the list goes on. It’s still home to many, many people and everyone wants to make the region a better place to live, work, play and visit. There isn’t one group in the region that doesn’t recognize the importance of small business and entreuepenuership as the fabric of our region, the schools, the local government, non profits and the business community, whats missing is communication, connection and vision. These are some of the specific tools, inspiration and like minded connections that I expect to make when attending the Summit.
Like many doers in rural Americe, the more you do the more you realize has to be done, consquency you wear many hats, informally and formally. If I were to attend the Summit, I would be eyes and ears for
eLaunch Williamson County – High School Entrepeunership Program, Vice President
City of Marion, Illinois
Saline and Union County CEO programs - – High School Entrepeunership Programs
Cairo/Alexander Port Authority
52 School Districts
Marion, Union, Jefferson, Metropolis Chambers of Commerce Board and committee member on each Chamber.
Jefferson County Development Corporation
The Delta Leadership Network (700 community and economic leaders thru out 252 counties and parishes in 8 states that coinside with the federal government agency Delta Regional Authority. I’m on my second year of a member of the DLN’s Regional Advisory Council
Southern Illinois Mayors Association (over 100 mayors from Southern Illinois are members) Our company is a partner with SIMA
Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools
Tell us the successes you’ve had in supporting a vibrant ecosystem?
As a board member of eLaunch Williamson County, we have had over 50 high school juniors and seniors graduate a school year long credited program that introduces, infuses the students into the entrepreneurship in their county.
Donate time to Saline and Union County CEO entrepreneurship programs on an annual basis.
I helped create and maintain the ELITE Entrepreneurship Camp held each summer at Shawnee Community College. Now in its 8th year.
I own a small part-time marketing business that offers marketing and business consulting services to small businesses and non profits. A pay it forward business model.
Anticipate creating a Bi-County Chamber of Commerce in two of the poorest counties in Illinois.
Donated and maintain the website for the Southern Illinois Made Expo, new regional event promoting locally made products and services in the region.
A member of the marketing committee of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, with an end goal of promotion of the City of Marion as a great place to do business.
Have started a discussion with a non profit lending service about bringing alternate financing options to the southernmost part of Illinois. A high population mix of low income and minority residents and businesses.
Part of an informal group of leaders developing a series of economic development based speaker breakfast or luncheons that will be offered on a regional basis to community leaders.
Manage and dispense quarterly email blasts to local leaders on behalf of DLN Illinois and SIMA.