Economic developers, retailers to convene again in Metro East

By DENNIS GRUBAUGH, Illinois Business Journal

Economic development directors wanting to pitch their community to a large retailer have a unique chance with a planned day of activities bringing them all together this month in Metro East.

The annual P3 Luncheon provides a forum for public and private partners to learn the latest in retailing trends and discuss common issues. Events are set for Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Four Points by Sheraton St. Louis, 319 Fountains Parkway. Fairview Heights.

The forum is called the ICSC Downstate Illinois P3 Luncheon Program. ICSC is the trade association of the retail real estate industry. The program annually brings together people to network, share ideas and discuss mutually desired retail projects.

The theme this year is “Retail Re-Thought: Opportunity & Innovation in Southern Illinois.”

Among sponsors of the event are the city of Fairview Heights, Wittenauer Properties of O’Fallon, the village of Swansea, Holland Construction Services and the Illinois Business Journal.

Fairview’s Director of Economic Development Paul Ellis (shown) is in the thick of planning. The daylong session features a keynote speaker and a series of roundtable discussions.

Keynoter is Wade Laufenberg, vice president real estate and construction for Bealls Outlet stores, a big retailer across the South and East. The company is expanding into Illinois.

“He is a decisionmaker on siting,” Ellis said, adding that attendees have a rare chance to network with him and, perhaps, make a pitch.

“Some may even be able to convince him to open a store in their community,” he said.

Sponsors are attempting to attract participants from across the southern part of the state, where Bealls may have aspirations.

Laufenberg, in general, will tell the audience what a retailer looks for in a location.

The roundtable breakout discussions offer a variety of timely subjects.

One presentation is planned on PACE financing, which is a hot topic in Southern Illinois. PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy.

“Our council is in the process of authorizing the first program south of Chicago,” Ellis said. “We have Tom Applebaum, the principal of Sustainable Solutions Funding out of St. Louis. I’ve asked him to come to a roundtable and tell people about it.”

The funding mechanism has been used successfully elsewhere and largely applies to gap financing to cover energy efficiency costs. Many have used it for HVAC work on large projects, both restoration and new construction, and includes air conditioning, geothermal, traditional and solar work.

The St. Louis Mills mall conversion project proposed in St. Louis County will use PACE financing to cover some costs, Ellis said.

“It’s integral to a lot of development today and a piece that we’ve been lacking in this state. Now, it’s coming to Southern Illinois,” he said. “It allows you to spread out the financing and bring out a lot of private money.”

Another roundtable topic will be on “facilitating retail” in small communities.

“Dallas Alley, the building and zoning director in Swansea, will oversee that,” Ellis said. “He’s doing some imaginative things in retail.”

Yet another roundtable will be led by Brett Stawar, president and CEO, of the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau. The subject is “Tourism and Retail,” which will tap the expertise of Stawar, who has studied the subject for many years in the Alton area. In recent years, the tourism bureau has expanded to take in several surrounding communities.

“Dallas Alley, the building and zoning director in Swansea, will oversee that,” Ellis said. “He’s doing some imaginative things in retail.”

Another roundtable is being planned on the topic of legalized cannabis, around which many communities are contemplating ordinances that will comply with newly enacted state law. The
specifics of the roundtable were still being determined at press time.

The market for the meeting is retailers, developers and community leaders, and especially economic developers.

“Some of us have been done this for years, and some people are just learning about it,” he said. The day’s presentation will be of benefit to all participants, he said.

A panel discussion will involve “Opportunity and Innovation in Southern Illinois” and focus on unique and unusual retail developments.

Joining the discussion are expected to be Kurt Artinger, CEO, of Artigem in Belleville; Eric Gowin of Contegra, on the new Ironworks development in Edwardsville; Brad Heath of the Urban Air Adventure Park that is opening in Fairview Heights; Derik Reiser from the Old Herald Brewery in Collinsville; and Sue Spargo, community relations and tourism coordinator, about the Old Schoolhouse in Columbia.

“Some of these will appeal to people in bigger markets, and some will appeal to the smaller markets. There’s something for everybody,” Ellis said.

The program agenda:

11 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Registration and networking

11 a.m. to noon: Lunch served

Noon to 12:30 p.m.: Program welcome and keynote
– Mark Kupsky, mayor, city of Fairview Heights
– Wade Laufenberg, vice president real estate and construction,
Bealls Outlet

12:30 to 1:30 p.m.: What Works in Retail: Innovative Approaches in
Downstate Illinois
– Moderator: Paul Ellis, CEcD, AICP, program chair, director of
economic development, city of Fairview Heights
– Panelists: Kurt Artinger, CEO, Artigem – Belleville; Eric Gowin,
founder, Contegra Construction Co., Edwardsville; Brad Heath, owner,
Urban Air Adventure Park – Fairview Heights; Derik Reiser, owner,
Old Herald Brewing Co. – Collinsville; Sue Spargo, community relations
& tourism coordinator, city of Columbia

1:30 to 1:45 p.m.: Break

1:45 to 3 p.m.: Roundtable discussions (two 30-minute sessions) –
select from the following:
– Table 1 – PACE Financing in Southern Illinois. Tom Appelbaum,
Sustainable Solutions Funding, LLC
– Table 2 – Facilitating Retail in Small Communities. Led by Dallas Alley,
building and zoning director, village of Swansea
– Table 3 – Opportunity Zones: What’s Next? To be led by Luke Popes,
CPA, principal of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP.
– Table 4 – Tourism and Retail – A Marriage Made in Heaven. Brett
Stawar, president and CEO, Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau
– Table 5 – Legalized Cannabis. Leader to be determined.

Planning Committee: Amber Dalbaugh (Vandalia), Paul Ellis
(Fairview Heights), Cristen Hardin (Collinsville), Scott Schanuel (Holland
Construction), Eric Schauster (Belleville), Sue Spargo (Columbia), Walt
Williams (Edwardsville), David Wittenauer (Wittenauer Properties)
Media sponsor: Illinois Business Journal



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