CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Illinois Governor JB Pritzker was in Carbondale and Marion on Wednesday, May 8.
The governor, along with Illinois state lawmakers and community leaders attended a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. at Centene and IlliniCare Health offices in Carbondale. It’s expected to create 350 new jobs.
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“This 80,000-square foot facility will bring 350 new jobs to southern Illinois. That’s a direct investment in this community that will create opportunity for so many working families,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “I will be your partner as we work to ensure communities across southern Illinois and across our state get the care they deserve and the investment they need to thrive.”
Michael F. Neidorff, chairman, president and CEO for Centene, said they are proud to invest in the people of southern Illinois.
“We look forward to attracting and retaining the top talent in the region to help us deliver the highest quality of care to those we serve," he said.
Leslie Naamon, the CEO of IlliniCare Health, said Centene started its search for a new service center location two years ago. They chose Carbondale to help economic development and bring jobs to the area.
Greg Cotton is a local owner of Express Employment Agency in Carbondale. His company connects applicants to employers.
“There’s a lot of jobs in southern Illinois but not a lot you can actually turn into careers," Cotton said.
Cotton believes the grand opening of Centene Corporation and IlliniCare Health in Carbondale will have a big impact on the region.
“Bringing more of those types of jobs is a great thing, not only for Carbondale but for all of southern Illinois," he said. "Today that’s one of the biggest challenges that people face and again I think a lot of those great candidates caliber folks here leave the area, so I think there’s a way to help keep them here in Carbondale.”
“Carbondale’s a good place to do business,” said the Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry.
The mayor said the 350 jobs bring more residents and tax dollars to the city. “The one thing it will certainly do is increase our daytime population,” Henry said.
The 80-square-feet facility sat vacant for at least a decade. With the decline of malls across the nation, University Mall’s General Mall Debbie Tindall also sees a benefits in the company being a part of the mall.
“We are really ahead of the curve with a lot of shopping centers in the united states that aren’t finding these opportunities, so it’s going to be a win-win,” Tindall said.
After the governor left Carbondale, he headed to Marion, and joining Marion Mayor Mike Absher and Pepsi MidAmerica at a ribbon cutting and community dedication of Halfway Road.
The new road helped Pepsi MidAmerica expand its operations and bring 50 new jobs to Marion.
“Today we’re celebrating the opening of Halfway Road, which wouldn’t be possible without the hardworking men and women who built it,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “This project has been 20 years in the making, and it will drive economic growth for decades to come. Right here and right now, Pepsi MidAmerica is expanding its production with new equipment and adding 50 new jobs in Marion. This is proof that investing in infrastructure unlocks so much potential in our communities.”
John Rains, vice chairman at Pepsi MidAmerica, said the new road will allow for safer travel to the Marion High School and for residents who live in the southern part of the community.
“This roadway improvement also provides for the expansion of the production and distribution at Pepsi MidAmerica,” he said. "The company will be adding 50 new jobs as well as investing over 2.5 million dollars in their expanded distribution.”
Marion Mayor Mike Absher said infrastructure investment opens communities up to opportunity and spurs economic development.