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 a relative newcomer to the Park. Both organizations can be found at 200 University Park Drive.
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 Ellen Krohne, executive director, the Council’s University Park location could not be better to help it achieve its mission. Describing the space as “community agnostic,” Krohne said it is exactly what her organization needs to serve its constituency fairly without the appearance of favoring one municipality over another.
“We want a place that everybody feels like they can be on neutral ground,” she said. “I wouldn’t think there could be another spot that would be better.”
Its close proximity to the SIUE campus allows the Leadership Council to take advantage of many benefits, including access to student workers and interns. The organization’s executive director also works closely with SIUE Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe who serves on the Executive Committee of the council and Jim Pennekamp, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Regional Economic Development and Executive Director, University Park SIUE, who provides valuable input and assistance on the economic development and infrastructure committees. Krohne said the Leadership Council also has been involved in important studies with faculty members and administrators through the years, such as the comprehensive Vision 2020 plan for the region.
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 and has had a consistent presence at the University’s annual Block Party, which is a city-sponsored event to welcome students back each fall. It hosts a tent at the University’s annual welcome back celebration and uses the proceeds to fund three SIUE student scholarships worth a total of $3,500.
Bennyhoff said through her organization’s close proximity to the Leadership Council, 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.