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Pepsi Illinois Bicentennial commemorative can

Governor Bruce Rauner tours the Pepsi MidAmerica facility on Dec. 15, 2017 as they unveiled a Pepsi can commemorating the Illinois Bicentennial.

A new effort aimed at promoting Southern Illinois and present the region in a positive light both to prospective developers as well as the local workforce. The ultimate goal is economic development to bring about new jobs to Southern Illinois.

“If you’ve paid attention over the last few years, you would think that Illinois is a place where it is impossible to do business and Southern Illinois is seen as even worse,” explains Cary Minnis, executive director of the Greater Egypt Planning and Development Commission, an economic development agency serving Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry and Williamson Counties. “With some, there’s just a negative feeling, but what is really lost in all of that is the great successes we’ve had.”

Minnis says the new effort, called SI/Works, which includes a website, www.si.works, and associated social media accounts, aims to change thinking about Southern Illinois.

“We want to put the message out that this place works for business, but also that we have to support those industries that have been so successful here; ones that need employees,” he says, pointing out that area manufacturers and health care providers have a variety of job opportunities. The project is a collaboration with the Southern Illinois Workforce Development Board. SI/Works is funded as a pilot project by the Delta Regional Authority.

Carbondale Economic Development Director Steven Mitchell likes the new effort.

“The premise behind SI/Works is that there are a lot of good things going on around Southern Illinois, but awareness of all of it is not so well known, so this is an attempt to present a lot of those great things,” he says.

Mitchell says the effort is as much for people in the region as it is for those outside.

“The audience isn’t necessarily those outside of the region. In some ways it is a marketing tool for businesses and people already here.”

Minnis says the new SI/Works is just the beginning.

“We want to get into phase two, where we hope to get into recruiting workers for industries both locally and from outside of the region to come here and fill the jobs we have. We want to reach out to companies that are looking to expand and have them hear the message that Southern Illinois works for business,” he adds. “We are going to be celebrating business success.”

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