Illinois Central Region


The Central Region is located in the heart of the agricultural belt of Illinois and our country’s Corn Belt. With its established industries and the presence of a dynamic cost-efficient transportation system, future business and investment opportunities are ripe due to the unique characteristics of the Central Region:

  1. Abundance of natural resources
  2. Prime location
  3. Availability of numerous modes of transportation
  4. Seat of state government

Abundance of natural resources

The Central Region’s base component is the rich, fertile farmland which provides an environmentally sound base for crop production and excellent pastures for livestock. Illinois is the nation's second leading exporter of soybeans, corn, feed grains and related products. With an accommodating yearly rainfall and the accessibility to over 39,000 acres of surface water reservoirs throughout the region, water supply is a premium attribute.

Prime location

Central Illinois has prominent industry clusters; Business Management, Tourism, Marketing/Sales , and Agri-business. The companies recognize the key advantages and efficiencies of north to south access from Chicago to St. Louis and Memphis. With the completion of the U.S. 67 Corridor project, the thoroughfare is the third major corridor of access, strengthening the region’s visibility as a prime location for distribution and logistics. Passing through the western portion of the Central Region, Corridor 67 will link St. Louis to Minneapolis/St. Paul, providing an ideal opportunity for corporations to further reduce shipping and trade costs into the Canadian NAFTA region.

Availability of numerous modes of transportation

Transportation has substantially shaped the growth and development of the Central Region. To sustain and enhance that economic vitality and the productivity of commerce, the region has at its disposal a healthy and responsive air and rail transportation system. Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport has received previous recognition from an Economic Impact study indicating the airport generates $563.6 million in total economic output annually for the local economy impacting 4,797 jobs.

The Central region also houses the Decatur Airport, one of the four components of the Midwest Inland Port, providing a global supply chain solution to companies with U.S. Customs and Foreign Trade Zone services. The development of the Midwest Inland Port serves as ground zero for logistics and distribution in Decatur and the Central Region, providing a more efficient opportunity to ship inbound and outbound cargo via rail containers anywhere in the country. With Norfolk and Southern, Canadian National and CSX railroads all serving the intermodal yard facility, the Midwest Inland Port has placed the Central Region at the forefront of the new 24 hour logistics and delivery models for raw material and product delivery.

Seat of State Government

At the center of the region lies the capitol city of Illinois: Springfield. With its convention center and word-class facilities, Springfield is not only a bee-hive for theatrical and performing arts interests, sporting events and historical Land of Lincoln tourist attractions, but is the seat of Illinois government and home to the Governor’s Mansion, General Assembly and the Supreme Court. State governmental agencies employ over 18,000 people alone.

Springfield is also home to over 150 Associations representing a wide range of professions, trades and causes. These organizations provide the area with economic stability, business opportunities and expertise in the areas of law, finance, consulting and engineering.



The Central Region has a vivid history and global presence in the manufacturing industry with Food Manufacturing and Fabricated Metal Manufacturing considered the leading sectors, supporting over 10,000 jobs. Marketing & Sales along with the Hospitality and Tourism provide the highest employment totals in the region at 124,000 jobs.

The Healthcare Industry, a mature and leading job creator, is reviving its stance in the region with ambulatory health care services, hospitals, nursing and care facilities, and social assistance offerings. This industry leader and essential care provider is regionally employing nearly 40,000 associates and positions.

Paper Manufacturing and Printing and Related Support Activities with LQ ratings over 1.2, are both considered maturing sectors and remain strong, employing a combined 2,200, while Wood Product, Machinery, Transportation Equipment and Furniture Manufacturing are considered the emerging sectors of the industry.


The Central Region is composed of 12 counties with a population of over 550,000 and a labor force of nearly 270,000. The region’s talented and dedicated workforce derives its educational merits and balanced skill sets from seven (7) exceptional universities and colleges, including; Illinois College,  Mac Murray, and University of Illinois Springfield, five (5) local community colleges and four (4) specialized degree graduate programs like SIU School of medicine.  Advanced career placement is often seen with locally trained recipients, thus providing businesses a flow of talented and successful leaders.

Lincoln Land Community College  is an example of local partnerships investing in the future workforce by collaboration with Levi, Ray & Shoup Inc., a Springfield based global provider of technology solutions. This great partnership shows the importance of investing in the existing educational system to secure a skilled workforce within the region for generations to come.


Click here to learn more about this region’s population statistics, local workforce area, community college district boundaries and locations, demographics (such as percentage of veterans, household income, educational attainment, and poverty level), employment projections by industry, and community college graduates by career cluster.


Alyson Grady
Central Region Manager
Regional Economic Development
Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity

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