MARION — From his assisted living center in Marion to his Indian restaurant in Carbondale, entrepreneur Srinivas Gundala has gathered a lot of attention for his developments in Southern Illinois.
Since his move to Carbondale more than a decade ago, Gundala said his ambition to build and supply contributions to several business productions in Carbondale derived from his desire to give back to the community.
"Ever since I moved to the Carbondale area 13 or 14 years back, I made it my hometown," he said. "This is where I am going to stay, and retire, and work, so I wanted to do something for the community. On the Carbondale side, they said that the economy was not growing, so I felt the need to do my bit of service here."
Gundala is part of the development team behind the under-construction Hilton Home2 Suites in Carbondale, which, when completed, will be the city's first downtown hotel in recent memory. He also owns Bombay Olive, an Indian restaurant and liquor store that opened on The Strip in July.
In 2015, Gundala decided to expand his services to Marion. It started with his assisted living center, Sunshine Gardens, and continues with a local strip mall that will be completed by spring 2017. It will be filled with prominent eateries and commercial stores, Gundala said.
Gundala said the mall fills a need, providing more jobs and drawing more people to the region.
"A good shopping complex like this is going to add quite a number of jobs to the area (as well as) develop and build the economy," he said.
Gundala said he is motivated to develop more businesses in the region by his interactions with his employees.
"Their smiling faces motivate me and keeps me happy," Gundala said.
Kim Frost, a community manager at Sunshine Gardens and one of Gandala's first employees, said Gundala's attitude is contagious.
"What sticks out most is his integrity and trust," she said. "He is so kindhearted and we can go straight to him if we have any concerns."
As his projects continue to develop in Carbondale and Marion, Gundala said he plans to keep up his relationships with his employees and potential productions.
"I want my employees to know that if something is bothering them they need to come and tell me," he said. "I want them to continue to come back to work because they love their job."