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    Granite City celebrated a significant milestone during 2013, reaching more than $1 billion in new investment since the start of the Great Recession, which created more than 700 jobs and retained more than 4,000. 
    “Despite ups and downs during the course of the recent economic downturn, Granite City has emerged standing strong and ready for the opportunities that lie ahead,” said Mayor Ed Hagnauer.
    The investments have come into Granite City from businesses of all shapes and sizes. In fact, approximately 30 individual businesses have invested $1 million or more in expanding their enterprises in Granite City during the past six years.
    A significant portion of the dollars invested came from the partnership between United States Steel Corp. and SunCoke Energy, which invested a combined $570 million to build a new coke energy plant and cogeneration facility in 2008-09, making its local facilities some of the most technologically advanced of their kind in the world. 
    Some of the city’s smaller manufacturers have also seen tremendous growth, including Illinois Electric Works and Arnette Pattern Co., which have invested approximately $3 million and $2.3 million respectively. Both of these companies have nearly doubled in size, adding a combined 50 employees to their payrolls.
    Other large industrial projects that contributed to the $1 billion total were a $40 million investment that Kraft Foods is making in its Granite City plant and a $25 million addition by Prairie Farms Dairy.
    In addition to the large investments in the city’s industrial base, more than $8 million has been invested in the downtown area, where approximately 10 new, small businesses have opened their doors, contributing to the resurgence within the downtown core.
    One of those downtown investors is Lance Callis, a partner in the law firm of Callis, Papa, Hale, Szewczyk P.C. Callis purchased the former Guardian Savings Bank building at the corner of Niedringhaus Avenue and Edison Avenue in January 2012 from the city. Since buying the building, he’s brought in a real estate development company on the second floor and a smoke house and microbrewery will be opening early this year on the first floor.
    Callis also purchased the building next door on Niedringhaus Avenue where the Kool Beanz Coffee Shop and the Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools testing facility will take up residence.
    “I remember downtown Granite City when I was a young man starting the practice of law. I’m just trying to give back a little bit,” Callis said.
    Demetri Tomich is planning to open his Six-Mile Brewery and Smokehouse in Callis’s building in early 2014. While he was born and raised on the Missouri side of the river, he said he was drawn to Granite City by the investment and rebuilding going on.
    “The whole city is behind us here,” Tomich said. “There’s a lot of excitement. I can’t go anywhere without someone telling me how excited they are for us to be here.”