|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
For too long, southern Illinois has depended upon two industries for its economic stability: agriculture and mining. Both industries have experienced significant restructuring in recent years. Although the volume of the region's agriculture output has increased, many smaller farms have stopped operating, leaving the region to rely on the production of fewer, large farms. Mining, while still existent in southern Illinois, has decreased significantly in recent years, leaving many unemployed or underemployed. These experiences highlighted the region’s economic vulnerability, and in response, southern Illinois looked to build upon its existing resources to diversify its economy.
In September 2014, EDA invested $1.2 million in Public Works funding to realign roadway at the Southern Illinois Airport Authority Carbondale. The project will develop approximately 65 acres of airport property to support a High Tech Zone anticipated to attract aviation, automotive and technology transfer businesses and increase regional export capacity. This facility is located near the University of Illinois Carbondale campus and will house a workforce training facility for air related fields, including plane maintenance and repair. This project is truly a collaborative effort, partnering with the Airport Authority, but also the Greater Egypt Economic Development District, Southern Illinois University and the Jackson County Growth alliance.
Based on a 2012 EDA funded strategic plan, this project is expected to create 75 new jobs through a new High Tech Zone. Businesses from across the region will be able to leverage the existing airport and runway assets in order to provide both domestic and export capacity through this supply chain enhancement project, resulting in new and existing aviation businesses within the emerging aviation cluster in the region.