Jefferson County Experiences Five More Years of Economic Progress

At our March JCDC Partner Luncheon, I shared the latest news on new partners and workforce development. I also attempted to give a reminder of the tremendous development progress occurring in Jefferson County (starting at about the six-minute mark).

Afterward, this set me to thinking. What if I could provide a list of the developments that occurred in the last five years? So, here it is…

Over the last (approximately) five years, from 2014 through March of 2019, Mount Vernon alone has had more than $193.7 million in development. Of that, 93% has come from business and about $10 million from new multi-family development. These latter figures exclude equipment, fixtures and signage, which could amount to about 30-45% on top of these figures.

Industrial and Logistics

This five-year period was actually after Continental Tire’s major expansions, yet they continued their growth by expanding on both the Passenger and Light Truck (PLT) and Commercial Vehicle Truck (CVT) sides of the plant, adding warehouse space, a retread facility and a mixing expansion. Walgreen’s Distribution also undertook major renovations. Phoenix Modular Elevator built its new facility in the Chesley Industrial Park and conducted two expansions since then. Bennett Metal Products expanded. PPG made major investments at the Vanex Plant. National Railway Equipment overhauled the former Big Lots downtown. Schulte Industries recently expanded and both Pepsi Mid-America and the owners of the former Anheuser Busch facility made alterations.

Manufacturing and Distribution accounted for $76.6 million in construction and expansion, about 42% of our total investment since 2014. From a workforce development standpoint, these expansions create better paying jobs than retail, wholesale and hospitality. We are pleased that Industrial and Logistics have had the most expansion.

Retail and Wholesale

Retail and Wholesale were next, with projects of $1 million and above by: Menards, Aldi, US Bank, DirtBusters Car Wash, Walmart, Kroger, Times Square Marketplace, and Huck’s at 10th and Veterans. Projects over $100,000 included: Benoist Bros., Verizon Store, Auto Credit, United Rentals, RP Lumber, Fun Blasters, Ruby’s, Pilot Travel Centers, Circle K, Pet Supplies Plus, Plaza Tire Service, Melvin’s Collision Plus, AT&T Store, Kay Jewelers, Ross Dress for Less, Rue 21, Anytime Fitness, 42nd Street Plaza, Community First Bank of the Heartland, Studio B Salon, King City Chrysler, Bradshaw Auto Sales, Lucky’s Liquor, U-Store, and Koch Air. Dollar General built in both Bluford and Dix during this time and Love’s Truck Stop built in Ina.

Excluding restaurants, the retail and wholesale sector accounted for $33.9 million or 18.7% of overall development in the community. Along with Restaurants and Hospitality, Retail and Wholesale generate sales tax essential to the growth of rural communities. As the Amazon Effect has grown, recent legislation has not addressed the shortfall in local governments’ shares of sales tax revenue for online purchases. We were fortunate to see this kind of growth in our community.


Ameren also invested more than $25 million in infrastructure for our community during this time; about 13.8% of our growth.

Restaurants and Hospitality

The number one question about development we receive at JCDC is on restaurants and hospitality. New restaurants since 2014 include; McAlister’s Deli, Fujiyama Japanese Steakhouse, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Culver’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, A Fine Swine BBQ, Huddle House, Marco’s Pizza, Joe’s Pizza, Domino’s Pizza, Guerro’s, La Fiesta, Trackside, The Grille, and Farmhouse Bakery & Coffee. Renovations and relocations include; Cracker Barrel, Burger King, McDonald’s, two of our three Subways, Cracker Barrel, El Rancherito, Fazoli’s, Taco Bell, Waffle Company, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Corner Tavern, Frosty Mug, and the Spot Tavern. We also saw the new Holiday Inn Express built and the renovation of the existing Holiday Inn into the new Double Tree by Hilton, complete with a new restaurant and Tesla charging station.

Restaurants and hospitality accounted for $23.9 million in growth or 13.2% since 2014. In five years, we saw 14 new restaurants.

Multi-Family Housing

We saw a lot of expansion in multi-family housing, with Greenwalt Construction adding more than 51 units on South Water Tower, Stark Development renovating and adding duplexes at Southgate, and both Willow Springs and Garden Glen conducting improvements. Multi-family residential development accounted for $12.9 million or about 7.1% of our growth.

Other Categories

The five-year period I outlined post-dates the SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital and Crossroads Community Hospital completed their facility constructions and expansions, valued at more than $470 combined. However, during this period, the remaining 4.7% of the community’s growth was in medical ($3.29 million), churches ($1.65 million), cell towers ($1.33 million), social service/non-profit agencies ($1.08 million), government ($869,000), unknown categories ($189,000) and agriculture ($96,000).

Mount Vernon has experienced $181 million in construction-related economic growth from business alone since 2014.

Mount Vernon has experienced $181 million in construction-related economic growth from business alone since 2014.

I would like to thank our area businesses, large and small, for investing in our community’s future. Sometimes, I am tempted to compare our progress with neighbors like Effingham and Marion. But economic growth is not a contest between communities. So this is when I take pause and ask myself if our county is better off than we were five years ago. I would say the answer is a resounding, “yes”! Thank you as well for reading this.



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