The Southwest Region is an area rich in opportunity. Whether you are looking to build a business, find a job, or conduct innovative research, our nine-county Southwest Region has much to offer new and expanding businesses, including a highly-skilled workforce and a solid transportation, distribution, and logistics infrastructure with a flourishing manufacturing base.
The Southwest Region is strategically located within 500 miles of one-third of the nation’s population. Since the year 2000, over 8,700 businesses were created and continue to thrive today while employing over 45,700 well-paying jobs. Located in the center of the country with multi-modal connectivity of river, road, rail, air, and pipeline; Southwest Illinois is growing. With a location close to St. Louis, the Southwest has many assets especially in business innovation, agriculture, and advanced manufacturing sectors. Southwest Illinois has caught the eye of prominent national developers.
This region has also seen millions of dollars in business investment and thousands of jobs being created over recent years. Recently announced, Amazon will be creating an additional 1,000 jobs in Edwardsville, joining the Southwest Illinois business community. Some of the large domestic and international manufacturing, agricultural, and logistic companies also include Amazon, Prairie Farms, P&G, Hershey, Walgreens, World Wide Technology, Boeing, ADM, Fed Ex, and Phillips 66.
Substantial business clusters and growing job creation continue to drive this region’s economy forward.
Southwest Illinois’ largest industry clusters include Healthcare; Manufacturing; and Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics. Over 15,300 workers are employed in the manufacturing sector of the Southwest region, which is dominated by Primary Metal Manufacturing and Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing consisting of 60 percent of this workforce. Employment in Food Manufacturing, Petroleum, and Coal Products Manufacturing along with Transportation Equipment make up another 35 percent of this cluster group. Another priority of the region is the continued development of the Healthcare Industry. This sector currently encompasses over 33,000 working positions in hospitals, ambulatory health, residential care facilities, and social services. This major cluster of employment is also expected to see a strong growth rate, especially in the ambulatory healthcare services sub-sector.
The region’s largest employer is Scott Air Force Base in Mascoutah, employing more than 13,000 people and acting as an economic engine. The base currently employs 13,000 people - 5,100 civilians with 5,500 active duty Air Force positions - and an additional 2,400 Air National Guard and Reserve personnel. Additionally, from the industrial side, three major employers - U.S. Steel, Amsted Rail, and Conoco-Phillips Petroleum - provide a solid manufacturing base.
The Southwest Region’s signature company is United States Steel Corporation, more commonly known as U.S. Steel. This American integrated steel producer has major production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe.
World-class university University Illinois Urbana-Champaign is located in our region’s backyard and educates over 32,000 students from all 50 states and 100 countries, making it the #11 ranked public university in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville offers a diverse student body of more than 14,000, in addition to a 330-acre technology park for business and industry. Curriculum includes Art & Science, Business, Dental Medicine, Health and Human Behavior, Engineering, Nursing, and Pharmacy. The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center is located on the SIUE campus, where private and university research is conducted to help reduce the cost of corn-based fuel. The Center collaborates with notable companies that produce energy, including DuPont, Conoco-Phillips, Abengoa, and Center Ethanol.
The Southwest Illinois region also has access to 42 colleges and community colleges, with some less than 50 miles away. There are two and four year schools, both public and private. These facilities appeal to those individuals who are looking for more affordable options or may not be ready for a full four year program. In addition to the universities above, top schools in the area include:
- Greenville College is a liberal arts four-year school located in Greenville, IL. The college is home to the only museum dedicated to the works of the sculptor Richard Bock, an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Kaskaskia College is located in Centralia, Illinois, and is the oldest community college in the state. With over 11,500 students and growing, Kaskaskia College provides accredited degree programs in Arts, Science, General Studies, and eighteen other vocational Associate degree programs.
- Lewis and Clark Community College is a comprehensive community college located in Godfrey that serves 20,000 credit and non-credit students annually. The two-year higher education institution has campuses, training centers, and Community Education Centers located throughout the college district, offering everything from GED training, College for Kids, and Workforce Training to numerous certificate, associate, and transfer degree programs.
- McKendree University is a private liberal arts college located in Lebanon, Illinois near Greater St. Louis. McKendree University confers degrees from four colleges and schools and offers over 50 undergraduate majors and 45 minors.
- Southwestern College is the fifth largest community college in Illinois with campuses in Belleville, Granite City, and Red Bud plus 20 off-campus sites throughout the district, including Scott Air Force Base.
EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING
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.
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