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What's the Word?

Jennifer Olson

Economic Development Director, Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission
Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission has been serving the southern Illinois communities, citizens, businesses, and local governments since 1961.

"Economic Development efforts start with a love for southern Illinois and a passion for making things better for current residents and future generations. Business and community leaders, along with elected officials, develop and execute comprehensive regional plans to ensure economic growth. Strategies include supporting the growth and success of existing companies and pursuing new businesses. Intended outcomes are growing the population, increasing the labor force, reducing the wage gap, and growing high-wage jobs. Together, we can make great strides towards our common goals."

Rex Budde

President & CEO, Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH)
SIH is a three-hospital (Carbondale, Herrin, Murphysboro), 300+ bed system with over 30 facilities and over 600 medical staff physicians.

"Southern Illinois is an amazing place to live and enjoy life. The quality of life is enhanced by the natural beauty of the area and the friendliness of the people. We are blessed to have a major University in the region as well as numerous strong Community Colleges. There is excellent healthcare services in the area to care for people where they live. There also is a workforce made up of good hardworking individuals who take doing a good job seriously. Southern Illinois is a great place to raise a family and develop a business."

John Dosier

President & CEO, First Southern Bank
First Southern Bank of Illinois is a locally owned and operated bank with a strong financial history and even stronger personal ties to the community.

“It’s rewarding to see meaningful collaboration across all of Southern Illinois from individuals who are passionately vested in our future. Attracting new businesses could mean new jobs and opportunities for upward economic mobility or could simply provide new leisure or recreation opportunities – all of which would improve overall well-being and quality of life.”

Dave Severin

Illinois State Representative, 117th District
Dave Severin has represented the 117th District of the Illinois House of Representatives since 2017.

“Southern Illinois is where I grew up, where I raised my family, and where I myself run a small business. Southern Illinois is home to world-class educational facilities, major manufacturing and production industries, and the best health care available. I am proud to serve an area with such amazing natural beauty and an abundance of natural resources. The potential for our region is unlimited. As State Representative, there's no better place in my mind to call home than Southern Illinois!”

Tom Welge

President, Gilster Mary-Lee
Gilster-Mary Lee, headquartered in Chester, Illinois, is a leading Private Label food manufacturer with 14 different manufacturing facilities across four states.

"Our family has being doing business in southern Illinois since 1895. The region is rich in agricultural resources, provides a skilled and committed workforce, and benefits from leadership at the local and regional level that is forward thinking and proactive. Southern Illinois offers wonderful recreational opportunities, fun and historic adventures, and a strong educational system."

Carolyn Quinn

President, Pike Systems
Pike Systems is a commercial & institutional distributor of cleaning chemicals & supplies industry with over 20 years of industry experience.

"Since expanding my business to Southern Illinois, everyone in the community has offered to do all they can to support us. The warm welcome I received from the community instantly made my team and me feel at home. The community and resources available have exceeded my expectations at every turn. Southern Illinois understands the harmony that comes from business and community rowing in the same direction and how mutually powerful that focus can be."

Mike Hudson

President & CEO, The Bank of Herrin
The Bank of Herrin has 5 branches in Williamson County and has been serving customers for over 100 years.

"The Southern Illinois way of life and business are rooted in fundamental values that we all seek, but are rare to find –integrity, dependability, hard work, and community. Southern Illinois offers a low cost of living, access to advanced medical care, and is ideally located close to major transit (interstate, rail, waterway, and air). There are also many recreational options in the area including hiking, boating, and fishing that elevate our quality of life."

Terri Bryant

Senator of the 58th Senate District
State Senator Terri Bryant is Illinois' 58th district State Senator as of January 2021. Terri spent 6 years in the Illinois House, serving the people of the 115th district.

"I’m proud to represent deep southern Illinois as Senator of the Illinois 58th Senate district. Deep southern Illinois is truly the heart of the heartland. The area features the 7th busiest inland port in the U.S. at Port Kaskaskia; the world’s largest trap shooting event at the World Shooting Complex in Sparta; and a world class university system with its flagship campus in Carbondale. The district is home to the Shawnee National Forest and a multitude of lakes and state parks. For a cultural experience you can’t beat Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon. It just doesn’t get any better than southern Illinois."

Rodney Cabaness

Co-Owner, Black Diamond Harley Davidson
Black Diamond HD®, owned and operated in Marion, IL, has one of the largest Harley Davidson inventories in the Midwest and has been serving customers since 2007.

"I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and am proud to call it home today. Not only is it a great place to live and raise a family, but it has also been an amazing place to operate our businesses. We have had several companies across the country and no other locations have proven to be as rewarding as the ones located right here in Southern Illinois."

Dale Fowler

Dale Fowler, Illinois State Senator, 59th District
Senator Dale Fowler has served the students, residents and businesses of Illinois’ 59th District since taking office in 2017.

"I’ve proudly called Southern Illinois my home for my entire life, raising my family and forging a career here in the region. The area is the ultimate tourist destination, with visitors coming from all over to enjoy the multitude of state parks, shopping destinations, historic attractions and outdoor recreational spots. Beyond our local attractions, Southern Illinois is also home to some of the most innovative, exceptional, and diverse businesses in Illinois. We have a number institutions of higher education, we are in the process of developing a river port at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, and efforts are moving forward to revitalize the Golconda Job Corps Center. Those of us who live in Southern Illinois are humble people, but we definitely know there is so much here that makes us Southern Illinois proud!”

Michael Tison

Senior Financial Advisor, Tison Wealth Management
Michael Tison has served families, foundations and small businesses in the Southern Illinois region for over 20 years.

“Developing a regional message and task force designed to be supportive of our local efforts in Saline County is long overdue. SI Now will stress economic and workforce development and remind us of the wonderful, positive experiences associated with living in Southern Illinois as a great place to work, play and raise a family.”

Joshua Stafford

Superintendent, Vienna High School
Vienna High School is a public four-year high school located in Vienna, Illinois.

"SI Now not only understands the approach in reaching across 17 counties in order to ensure this region continues to grow in success, but also has put real action to the task. Being a native of Southern Illinois - born and raised with roots back to the founder of Johnson County being my great, great, great, great, great grandfather - I have been able to experience much of what it has to offer. From world class vistas such as Garden of Gods to geological treasures such as Heron Pond and Jackson Falls, the recreational and scenic wonders are not only unlimited, but awe-inspiring and majestic."

Tony Iriti

Executive Director, JCDC
Jefferson County Development Corporation (JCDC) is made up of area industry representatives, economic development allies, and local government representatives serving the City of Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County, and surrounding communities since 2006.

“Regionalism in economic development shows the total strength of a geographic area. Mt. Vernon is the northern-most county; we not only have our strengths but can also draw on the assets of Carbondale and Marion, as well. If one county succeeds, we all win. The stronger we are as a region helps us compete for projects with other larger jurisdictions. We can draw on amenities and workforce within a one-hour drive time.”

Dutch Doelitzsch

Founding Member of REDCO
Regional Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) is an opportunity provider, promoting economic growth and industrial development in Williamson County and the Southern Illinois region.

“As a long time business person who has been involved in economic development for many years, I understand the importance of bringing together leaders in business, education, manufacturing, healthcare, and industry to facilitate growth in Southern Illinois by breaking down barriers between communities and establishing meaningful dialogues to focus on the most important initiatives. The SI Now region has many established entities who are directly involved in solicitation of job growth and betterment of our communities. SI Now’s mission is not to duplicate, but rather to effectively support those efforts through the substantial regional reach and influence of its membership."

Keith Dickens

President, Pepsi MidAmerica
Pepsi MidAmerica is a large family owned Pepsi bottler and distributes food and beverages across its 5 state region.

“Access to Southern Illinois’ many resources, including top notch business training and support organizations like Man-Tra-Con and the Delta Regional Authority, have furthered Pepsi MidAmerica’s success. Additionally, Southern Illinois University and our local community colleges provide outstanding technology training, CDL training, and other career development courses that have equipped our employees with the skills they need to be successful. We also maintain a strong relationship with the City of Marion which has supported our business growth. Southern Illinois is centrally located near several major Midwestern cities and has excellent roads for transportation which makes it an ideal location for our business.”

Jeff Gleim

Associate Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations, SIU Alumni Association
Southern Illinois University is a public research university in Carbondale, Illinois. Founded in 1869, SIU is the oldest campus of the Southern Illinois University system.

“Southern Illinois University Carbondale is an economic engine and valuable partner in the region. The area is home to nearly 40,000 proud alumni, enthusiastic to apply what they learned on campus to help advance the region. As a major source of innovative solutions, research, and creative thinking, SIUC is proud to serve Southern Illinois.”

Greg Cook

President, Cook Portable Warehouses
Cook Portable Warehouses is a Southern Illinois based manufacturer and distributor of portable buildings, with over 300 dealers in 16 states.

“Southern Illinois is a “hidden gem” as a place to locate your business or home! Located within the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, Southern Illinois has been compared to the Fertile Crescent of Egypt. The Shawnee National Forest and its many incredible rock formations and vistas place outdoor adventures right in your backyard. The quality of life and cost of living are as good as it gets and with the intersection of major transportation corridors, Southern Illinois is efficiently linked to St Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis and Nashville.”

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