SI Now: economic development initiative creates regional hub

A reimagined and reinvigorated economic development initiative is designed to create a regional hub and serve as a unified voice for the 17 southernmost counties in Illinois. 

SI Now, a Southern Illinois Success Initiative, involves collaboration among leaders in business and industry, healthcare, higher education, workforce development, transportation, government, non-profit economic development and community coalitions. 

SI Now’s vision is to create a thriving, economically diverse environment with a growing population, labor force, per capita income and expanding tax base, while elevating an already high quality of life.

“We will have a greater impact on advancing our region’s economy by pooling our resources together towards common goals,” said SIH president and CEO Rex Budde, a member of SI Now’s steering committee, in a news release.

“Regional wins create a ripple effect, be it in Vienna, Anna, Jonesboro, Carbondale, Harrisburg, Mt. Vernon, Benton or Chester. 

“Now is the time for Southern Illinois leaders to come together and capitalize on available opportunities.”

SI Now’s current efforts are focused on supporting existing businesses, attracting and expanding businesses, developing workforce education through training and employment growth in high wage sectors. 

Coming together and taking a collaborative approach to development is seen as a key for the initiative.

“SI Now not only understands this approach in reaching across 17 counties in order to ensure this region continues to grow in success, but also has put real action to the task,” said Vienna High School superintendent and SI Now steering committee member Joshua Stafford. 

“At times we fret about what we might see as a threat or competition, but as we adjust our vision and bring the region together, it becomes clear that a business startup or the success of a church, school or other organization in Murphysboro or Metropolis can truly be used as a catalyst for success in Vienna, Mt. Vernon, Cave-In-Rock, Cairo and all destinations in between,” 

“It’s rewarding to see meaningful collaboration across all of Southern Illinois from individuals who are passionately vested in our future,” said First Southern Bank president and CEO John Dosier, a co-chair of SI Now’s Business Growth and Development Task Force.

 “Attracting new businesses could mean new jobs and opportunities for upward economic mobility or could simply provide new leisure or recreation opportunities – all of which would improve overall well-being and quality of life.”

Stafford concurs, adding SI Now supports his love for the region and is a driving force to making “a great thing even better.”

“Being a native of Southern Illinois – born and raised with roots back to the founder of Johnson County being my great, great, great, great, great grandfather – I have been able to experience much of what it has to offer. 

“From world class vistas such as Garden of Gods to geological treasures such as Heron Pond and Jackson Falls, the Tunnel Hill State Trail and unlimited hiking, biking and walking trails, the recreational and scenic wonders are not only unlimited, but awe-inspiring and majestic,” Stafford added. 

As part of its effort to elevate perceptions of Southern Illinois, SI Now is launching a website and social media platforms:

SI Now’s website ( serves as a first stop for those interested in locating a business in Southern Illinois or moving here as a resident. 

The website includes key information featuring assets, incentives and resources and will showcase the best of Southern Illinois, including geographic benefits, educational and workforce development opportunities, transportation assets, healthcare services and quality of life.

SI Now’s social media platforms will serve as a place to share the good in Southern Illinois with positive news stories and testimonials. 

The public is encouraged to include the hashtag #SouthernIllinoisNow on their own positive posts highlighting businesses, community events and life in Southern Illinois.

Those who are interested are invited to join the conversation and stay connected with SI Now on its social media platforms:

Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn: @SouthernIllinoisNow. Twitter: @SouthernILNow.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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