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Southern Illinois - also known as "Little Egypt" is the southern third of the state of Illinois. With the area code 618, the southern part of Illinois is geographically, culturally, and economically distinct from the rest of the state. It is considered a part of downstate Illinois. The region is bordered on three of four sides by the most voluminous rivers in the United States: the Wabash and Ohio rivers to the east and south, and the Mississippi River and its connecting Missouri River to the west.

 
OVERVIEW

Located between the Nation’s mightiest rivers - the Mississippi and Ohio - the Southern Illinois Region is transforming from being a leading coal producer to become an up-and-coming, strategic location for logistics and automotive suppliers.

The Southern Illinois Region has much to offer a new or expanding business, including a skilled workforce, abundant natural resources, and a developed transportation infrastructure network with multiple modes of access to the rest of the country. The region is home to major firms such as Aisin, Continental Tire, Walgreens Distribution Center, and Champion Laboratories, each of which employ at least 750 . . . and continue to grow!

Southern Illinois is a region of opportunity. Communities have worked diligently to reinvent themselves, becoming progressive players in increasingly competitive global business environment. South Illinois’ recent successes can be attributed to:

  • Growth in the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics industry;
  • The region’s central U.S. location;
  • Proximity to a growing automotive sector within 3 hours drive time; and
  • Diverse business growth attracted by an educated and skilled workforce.

The rapid growth and expansion of technology also continues to create new opportunities for business throughout Southern Illinois.

The Southern Illinois Region is a Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics nexus, connecting the region to the rest of the country via rail, roads, runways, and rivers.

  • Businesses are connected to major cities and markets via three interstate highways, with major interchanges located in Marion and Mount Vernon that create transportation hubs for manufacturers and businesses throughout the region.  I-57 connects the region to Chicago - the economic heartbeat of the Midwest - and  points north.  I-24 connects business to major southeastern markets in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. I-64 runs east-west, providing connections to Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, and beyond. 
  • Three of the countries Class I railroads - operated by BNSF, CN, and Union Pacific - pass through the Southern Illinois Region, serving as critical connections to the entire country. Progressive Rail and the Evansville Western Railway operate Class II railroads that further expand the benefits of rail in the region. The Southern Illinois Region’s commercial and cargo air service from Marion and private airports in seven communities to better serve businesses with distant operations, customers, and suppliers.
  • Four of the Illinois’ thirteen Port Districts are located along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. These ports offer Illinois businesses easy access to shipping routes for domestic imports and exports.
TARGET INDUSTRIES

Proximity to the both Midwest and Southeastern Markets; a developed Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics infrastructure system; a rapidly growing OEM Auto Parts cluster; and an educated and experienced workforce make the Southern Illinois Region a natural choice for growing businesses. Companies like Aisin Manufacturing, Continental Tires, Fram Group, Spartan Light Metals, Pepsi Mid-America, and Beelman Truck Company benefit from the region’s workforce strengths that are supported by training programs at community colleges. 

Aisin Group - a multinational Japanese OEM auto parts manufacturer - chose to locate three of its companies to Marion, Illinois (Aisin Manufacturing, Aisin Electrical, and Aisin Light Metals) to access the area’s highly skilled workforce, which boasts both manufacturing experience and a solid pipeline of graduates from Southern Illinois University’s engineering program. These Aisin Group companies continue to thrive in Marion, Illinois, growing from an initial 35 employees in 2003 to approximately 1,500 employees today.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION

Thanks to Southern Illinois University’s flagship campus in Carbondale, Illinois, and a strong network of community colleges, the Southern Illinois Region is home to a well-educated, highly-trained, and skilled workforce, with 28 percent of the workforce holding a college degree. The region’s community colleges offer over 45 technical career certificates, providing new advancements in technical fields and trades to a highly skilled workforce with extensive experience in manufacturing and natural resource mining. 

 

EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

Click here to learn more about this region’s population statistics, local workforce area and 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.

 

REGION SPECIFIC ASSISTANCE
Kim Watson
 
The Department of Commerce is Your One-Stop Resource
  • Intergovernmental Coordination
  • Technical Assistance with Site Selection
  • Regional Collaboration with Key Stakeholders
  • Assistance Eliminating Governmental Red Tape
  • Custom Workforce Training
  • Expedited Permitting, Licensing & Other Approvals
  • Connection to Civic & Business Partners
  • Potential Financial Support
  • And More!
 
 
Pepsi MidAmerica - Pepsi MidAmerica (PMA), located in Marion, Illinois; Aisin – Leading auto parts manufacturer located in Southern Illinois; Rendleman Orchards - Rendleman Orchards nestled in the hills of Southern Illinois' Shawnee National Forest Since 1873.