SIU Saluki Way construction may boost local economy

By Carly O'Keefe

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Saluki Way will definitely give Southern Illinois University a face lift; but it may also prove to be a huge shot in the arm to southern Illinois' economy.

The SIU Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to approve 22 construction contracts for Saluki Way projects. The contracts, worth $28 million, will result in a new 'u' shaped football stadium that will replace the 70-year-old McAndrew Stadium and massive renovations to SIU Arena. But those construction dollars may also act as a sort of local economic stimulus package. 
"If your construction is going good, your economy is going good," said Paul Noble, business manager for IBEW Local #702 in West Frankfort.  "Recently it hasn't been going so well, I think this will have a huge impact."
Darin Fager learned Thursday that his Murphysboro-based company was among those chosen to complete work on SIU arena and the new football stadium.  Fager-McGee's two projects total nearly $3.7 million.
"All around we're just really excited to be a part of it, and obviously, we need the work too," said Fager, the vice president of Fager-McGee Commercial Construction.
Fager says as the economy declined, so did the work load in the construction business.
"This last year several projects fell through due to funding and budgeting, because it just wasn't there with the economy," Fager said.
Now with construction contracts awarded to more than a dozen southern Illinois contractors, Saluki Way may mean brighter days ahead.
"I think it'll have a lot of spin offs, and it's nice to have something like Saluki Way going in tough economic times," Fager said.
Saluki Way is set to break ground in early March on the most recent projects.