University Park at SIUE is home to two very important economic development engines that drive the greater metropolitan St. Louis region. Residing in University Park since 1983, the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois is the longest standing tenant. The Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce is also located in the Park.
The Leadership Council takes pride in fostering economic growth in Madison and St. Clair counties by strengthening public and private partnerships. This allows partners to focus on job growth and retention. According to Ronda Sauget, executive director, the Council’s University Park location could not be better to help it achieve its mission. Describing the space as “encouraging community engagement,” Sauget said it is exactly what her organization needs to serve its constituency fairly without the appearance of favoring one municipality over another.
“It is important to the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois to have a strong central location that fosters community partnerships, innovative thinking and synergistic collaboration,” she said. “This location helps to service all of those very important purposes.”
Its close proximity to the SIUE campus allows the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois to take advantage of many benefits, including access to student workers and interns. The organization's executive director also works closely with the University senior leadership team. Sauget said the Leadership Council has engaged faculty members to collaborate in important regional studies and works with senior administrators on key educational public policy initiatives.
The Ed/Glen Chamber prides itself as a trusted resource for local information. The membership-based non-profit organization strives to establish strong relationships between businesses and citizens of the Edwardsville and Glen Carbon communities. Dedicated to delivering event information, member job postings, and relocation information to new families and organizations, the Chamber’s mission is to advocate for the interest of business in order to promote the local economy and provide networking and educational resources for its membership.
Desiree Bennyhoff, the Chamber’s director, said the organization’s location in University Park is “a great central location for both communities.” She added, “It’s a great access point for SIUE parents to visit and learn more about the community in which their child will be living and learning.”
The Chamber’s affiliation with the University allows it to reach students and their parents through programs like SIUE’s freshman orientation, Springboard to Success, and numerous panel discussions, training opportunities and professional development programs throughout the year. The Chamber is able to provide relocation guides and field questions about both of the communities it represents. It works with the University during its annual fundraising event to reach local businesses funds several SIUE student scholarships.
Bennyhoff said through her organization’s close proximity to the Leadership Council Southwestern, she hopes to work more closely with her neighbor to navigate interested parties to the proper resources and spark even more regional economic development initiatives.