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Three being honored for economic impact in Fairview Heights

From left, Eartha Brown, Mark Hinrichs and Tamala Malone


Three local businesses have been announced as recipients of the Fairview Heights Business Alliance Commission’s economic impact awards, the E Brown Bakery, IMPACT Strategies and Tree of Life Childcare Center.

As a result of this effort to recognize local establishments and businesses entities that have contributed to the economic health of the community, this reincarnated program, resurrected in a revised format from what had been done several years ago, was launched earlier this calendar year with a call for nominations.

The winners are invited to  today’s (Tuesday’s) meeting of the BAC to receive their award certificates, then are asked to be present at tonight’s City Council meeting, according to Fairview Heights Director of Economic Development Paul Ellis.

As authorized in the criteria established by the BAC members over a period of a few meetings’ deliberations about how to structure this program, the nomination of Eartha Brown cited how she opened her bakery business in a strip center on North Illinois Street in Fairview Heights in 2018 and managed to maintain its stability amid the challenges faced by the coronavirus pandemic without shutting down as many others were forced to do, the vast majority of them on a temporary basis during the lockdown periods.

Brown, a resident of the city for 35 years and a member of the board of directors for the Metro-East Regional Chamber of Commerce, is the recipient of recognition as a member of the Hall of Fame established by the Grace Hill Women’s Business Center in East St. Louis.

IMPACT Strategies, which has offices in both St. Louis and Fairview Heights, was nominated for this award by local real estate professional Terry Johnson.

Its principal chief executive officer, Mark Hinrichs, according to Johnson’s nomination, has mentored and invested in many new business startups throughout the area and is a founder of a program called Career Pathways of Southern Illinois which helps construction or manufacturing companies recruit, develop, train and retain diverse, qualified members of their respective work forces along with proactively utilizing minority subcontractors in many of his projects.

An advisor to the Metro East Business Incubator which provides support and guidance to entrepreneurs and those with similar interests, Hinrichs is a former member of the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees. His firm has been involved in numerous high-level construction projects throughout Southwestern Illinois since its formation.

The Tree of Life childcare facility on Lincoln Trail in the west end of the city is operated by Tamala Malone and was nominated for this award by BAC member Charles Daily. In citing the impact on the city’s economy in his nomination, Daily praised Malone for turning a vacant former restaurant building into her business that is located in part of Fairview Heights which has long needed more business development while also providing an opportunity for working parents who have children to utilize the services offered there.

Malone too battled through an adverse business climate resulting from the pandemic including dealing with such challenges as limited financial support and subcontractor issues while presenting her plans to the city for its review and approval process.

The scoring model orchestrated by the Fairview Heights BAC members to measure the qualifications of the nominees includes criteria such as the capital investment involved in either new construction or renovation of existing structures, the likelihood of being a catalyst for further community development, the creation and retention of jobs, the offering of new or expanded needed services and the generation of local taxes such as those resulting from retail sales or the sale of food and beverage.

Ellis explained at the February meeting of the BAC that there were other nominations but one of those was a duplicate of one of the aforementioned recipients that had been submitted and another was not actually located in Fairview Heights.

The development of this award was initially suggested by Daily during the summer of 2021 then he worked to put together the basic outline of it which was then reviewed by the BAC members before being formally implemented.

He expressed his concern at the February meeting of the group about wanting to make sure the awards process is not too discretionary and conducted with a high level of integrity.

This newly-established awards program has been set up, as a successor to one that existed earlier this century but was focused more exclusively on esthetics and the appearance of business properties.

Its purpose is to recognize the contributions of small and large businesses and non-profit groups to the economic vitality and image of the city represented in the commercial components of the community.

There are two facets of the current awards project with the first one being focused on economic impact as indicated previously while the other, harkening back to the concept of the prior one, regards beautification efforts connected with local businesses.

The nomination process for the latter begins on July 1 and continues until the end of that month with the announcement of the winner to come forth in September. Businesses can nominate themselves or can be nominated by other individuals, groups or businesses.

To be eligible, the site nominated must be located within the corporate boundaries of the City of Fairview Heights. Public sector projects (funded by government entities) may not be nominated. Award recipients will be ineligible for consideration at the same location for a time period of two years.

For those submitting the beautification award nomination, before and after photos of the improvements are encouraged. A photo release will be required for the purpose of authorizing use of the pictures in social media and in print.

Award nominations are to be submitted by e-mail to Fairview Heights Director of Economic Development Paul Ellis at by using a form that can be found on the city’s website,, by scrolling to the bottom of the blue colored column with white lettering on the left side where it says “Business Awards Program.”




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