Shawnee Regional Economic Alliance Activities
Shawnee Regional Economic Alliance met on May 13, 2015, to discuss the results of a recently completed business survey. The survey was conducted to set a framework in identifying needed economic development, transportation infrastructure, workforce training, and public policy/incentives as well as other critical business challenges, such as Internet connectivity. The survey information and input from the group members will be used to set key regional business priorities the group will work on achieving that will allow current business growth as well as attract new companies to the regional area.
According to Dr. Tim Bellamey, President of Shawnee Community College, "We must first identify the critical challenges businesses are struggling with, then develop a plan for overcoming these challenges allowing our companies to grow, while also developing a strategy for how we attract additional businesses to the regional area in the long-run." The group had a spirited discussion about Internet connectivity challenges and the overall need for enhanced roads and transportation corridors (river, roads, and rail), so it will be easier to access our current businesses and more cost-effective to ship finished goods from the region.
According to Mitch Garrett, Owner, Shawnee Professional Services, Inc. stated, "We have worked on projects all over our regional area for many years and now we are able to expand our business beyond our region to other states offering outsourced engineering services to other metropolitan areas, such as Chicago. When we were able to access fiber to all of our locations, it really was a game changer for us to connect our business and offer more cost-effective services to other firms in higher cost labor markets. Our team can work together seamlessly through our high speed internet connection with other engineering teams around the country. This has allowed us to expand our business and add real jobs to our regional economy. I look forward to growing our business even further with this new business model." Garrett further stated, "It is all about identifying the problems and then developing a plan to overcome those challenges."
In further discussion, Scott Harris, National Sales Representative, Master's Choice Seed Company, indicated transportation is critical for the success of their firm. Harris stated, "We need enhanced, cost-effective transportation options to help our company expand." The overall group agreed that regional transportation and internet connectivity are critical priorities for citizens and businesses alike, so this will be key areas of focus for the group moving forward. Shawnee Regional Economic Alliance members will be conducting business visits to gain even more information on regional business needs in the coming weeks.
The Alliance group plans to meet again to finalize key business priorities used in strategic planning that also will be shared with our legislators and agency representatives. For more information, contact Dr. Tim Bellamey, SCC President, at 618-634-3200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shawnee Regional Economic Alliance Background
Shawnee Community College formed a new business driven group, Shawnee Regional Economic Alliance, to help move the region forward in maintaining and attracting businesses. This group is reviewing the current business environment and formulates "best practices" strategies for competitively positioning the region as a "location of choice" in building, expanding, and attracting businesses and creating jobs.
Pictured Above (1st Row, L-R): Gabriele Farner, Kim Watson, Nancy Holt, Karen Wilson, Tiffany Morgan, Heather McIlawin, Zachary Garrett, Ashleigh Hilliard, Dr. Ronda Sauget, Kristie Koch-Stephenson.
(2nd Row, L-R): Dr. Tim Bellamey, Bret Green, Scott Harris, Alex Foeller, Patrick Presser, Chris Boyd, Mike Stegle, Mitch Garrett, Jean Ellen Boyd, Tabatha Smith, Candy Eastwood.