Southwest Illinois region offers several key advantages for companies seeking a presence in the center of the U.S.

Southwest Illinois, sometimes referred to as the “Metro East”, is part of the St. Louis MO-IL metropolitan statistical area and has a lot to offer new and expanding businesses.

  • Southwest Illinois is growing and has seen millions of dollars in business investment and thousands of jobs being created over recent years.
  • Since the year 2000, over 8,700 businesses were created that continue to thrive today employing over 45,700 well-paying jobs.
  • The economic engine and largest employer in SW Illinois are Scott Air Force Base employing more than 13,000 people .

Strategically located near the Mississippi River and close to St. Louis, Southwest Illinois offers an array of assets, especially in business innovation, agriculture, and advanced manufacturers sectors, and has caught the eye of prominent national and international developers.

Regional amenities include unsurpassed mass transit options, highway connectivity, rail, and barge access; and a highly skilled workforce with immediate access to flagship universities such as Southern Illinois University and McKendree University.

Southwest IL’s largest industry clusters include Healthcare, Manufacturing, and Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics, Food/AG.

Location, Location, Location.

  • Located along the Illinois and Missouri state line across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, the 12 county southwest Illinois region provides a strategic location within 500 miles of one-third of the U.S. population. our region is the 2nd largest population center in Illinois boasting X of the St. Louis MSA population
  • More than 50% of the U.S. buying power can be found within a single day’s drive (Chicago, Memphis, Nashville, Kansas City and Columbus 1 day or less away); can get anywhere in the United states by truck in three days.

Area Steeped in Multimodal Transportation Capabilities: road, rail, river, air.

ROADWAYS: Traveling from the region is easy in all directions via Interstates 40, 55,64, 70. These toll-free interstates offer national access with significantly lower congestion than similar sized urban areas.

RAIL: Region ranks number one among peer metro areas in terms of total freight tonnage moved. Six class I railroads converge in the region along with the nation’s 3rd largest rail hub, and 4 intermodal rail yards, supporting 210 million tons of inbound and outbound freight.

RIVER: Dubbed “The Ag Coast of America”, the region has access to 55 barge transfer facilities within a 15-mile section of the Mississippi River handling 150 barges a day in agricultural and fertilizer products – highest level of barge handling capacity ANY WHERE along the Mississippi River.

  • America’s Central Port, the 3,d largest, northernmost ice-free port with lock-free access to the Gulf of Mexico, is located in the region, and is one of the largest and most successful Ports in the Midwest, second only to Chicago.
  • Bolstered by the region’s well-connected infrastructure, America’s Central Port transports more than $11 billion in freight annually. Kaskaskia Regional Port is the 8th largest inland port district in the country, and also is located in SW Illinois.

AIR: Five airports are available to businesses in Southwest Illinois.

  • St. Louis Lambert International Airport features 270 daily departures and 80 domestic and international capabilities.
  • Mid America St. Louis Airport is a commercial cargo and passenger airport co-located with Scott Air Force Base and serves as a secondary metro commercial airport for the St. Louis region featuring state of the art cargo support facilities for international and domestic customers.
  • St. Louis Downtown Airport specializes in business aircraft as large as Boeing 739 charter flights to personal Ultralight airplanes; and is the most used Illinois based airport out of Chicago.
  • St. Louis Regional Airport is Illinois 4th largest airport specializing in corporate aircraft, US military and regional aircraft makers.
  • Spirit of St. Louis airport handles smaller aircraft and charters.


A Hot Bed of Development for Manufacturing, Logistics, AG/food, Energy

Warehousing and Distribution firms have found a stronghold in Southwest Illinois, due to its central location, creating a strong transportation and logistics sector.

  • An abundance of industrial grade bulk warehouses is available throughout the region at: Gateway Commerce Center, Lakeview Commerce Center, Sauget Industrial Park, Rock City Business Complex.
  • Large companies like Proctor and Gamble, Dial, Unilever, Hershey, Worldwide Technology, Walgreens, Target, Amazon, Fed Ex, Little Caesars, and many more, already call SW Illinois their home for their logistics needs.

Region’s flourishing manufacturing base consists of large domestic and international manufacturing companies.

  • U.S. Steel, Amsted Rail, and Phillips 66, Boeing, U.S. Steel, Olin, Heidtman Steel Products, Spartan Light Metals, and Terra Source Global nationally known companies that have operated profitably in the SW Illinois region for a number of years.
  • Over 15,300 workers are employed in the manufacturing sector which is dominated by Primary Metal Manufacturing and Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing.

The Healthcare industry is experiencing continued growth and is another priority of the region. This sector totals over 30,000 working positions in hospitals, ambulatory health, residential care facilities, and social services.

Agriculture /Food processing industry is key to our region’s success. Anchor companies include Cargill, Kuna Foods, Kraft Foods, Prairie Farms, ADM, Bunge, K-Pro U.S., North Bay Produce, Holtan Meats.

SW Illinois exhibits a robust representation in the Energy Sector: Valero Energy, Phillips 66, ExxonMobil, Green Plains Renewable Energy, Ameren Illinois, and Prairie State Energy Campus, are just a few anchors.

A Highly Skilled Workforce with A Labor Force Exceeding 320,000.

  • Region possesses a well-trained workforce with a highly regarded work ethic that is attractive to potential investors seeking to acquire, relocate, or expand.
  • Region Is well – positioned with resources and experiences to prepare for and meet future work requirements.
  • With access to 42 colleges and community colleges within 50 miles, the region offers a strong and well-trained workforce.
  • Region’s long history as a center for aerospace and auto assembly has provided a deep pool of engineering and advanced manufacturing talent.
  • Region’s largest employer is Scott Air Force Base which employs more than 13,000 people.


Southwest Illinois Is the Home of Biofuel Research:

The Ag Tech Corridor stretches from st. Charles Missouri Research Park to the Metro East’s research facilities at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. The region stands apart from other metros in the Ag Tech/food tech sector.

  • Since 2003, more than 70 technologies have led to the creation of more than 5,000 jobs and generated over $5.6 billion in annual reserves.
  • There are state of the art Research and Development Centers in the Metro East, including the Biotech Lab Incubator and the National Corn to Ethanol Research Centers at SIU-Edwardsville.
  • Presence of more than 750 PhD’s in plant and agricultural science fields located in the St. Louis region coming from 46 countries.

Southwest Illinois Features a Business-Friendly Climate

  • With strategic public-private partnerships already in place, Southwest Illinois is ready to work for you.
  • We have plenty of affordable land with multi-modal capabilities and low business costs conducive to your foreign direct investment interests.
  • Overall cost of doing business in our region much lower when compared to other parts of the country.
  • The bi-state region ranks 10th most competitive to do business in the U.S.

A “Quality of Place” to be Reckoned with in the U.S.

We are one of two regions in the U.S. with a lower cost of living than the national average. Our standard of living is higher than 94% of MSAs in the country.


Southwest Illinois is a place where both business and people can thrive, a place where people can live and work. We have the workforce, location, ample development property, and supporting infrastructure nearby, and can provide foreign companies with the support, funding, and resources that are needed for success investing in the United States. Southwest Illinois has experienced unprecedented economic growth over the past few years and continues to be a hot spot for development. Southwest Illinois is truly Midwest U.S.A’s best kept secret.