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Aviation forum highlights thriving industry in Southwestern Illinois

Boeing’s Joseph Meyer, field marketing lead for Scott Air Force Base Strategic Marketing Office, shares company updates with attendees during the Aug. 22 Aviation Industry Update hosted by the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois that morning at DoubleTree Collinsville. Boeing continues making substantial investment and impact throughout the Southwestern Illinois region, and Meyer noted that a new Metro East 300,000-square-foot facility that is on the way will bring with it roughly 300 jobs. (Melissa Crockett Meske/Illinois Business Journal)


The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois hosted the Southwestern Illinois Aviation Industry Update on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023, at the DoubleTree in Collinsville. Over 100 people attended the event which shined the spotlight on the dynamic aviation sector flourishing in the region.

Event Highlights: The Southwestern Illinois Aviation Industry Update was planned on the heels of a series of major aviation expansion announcements and projects underway in the region. This event brought together several key players to showcase the region’s robust and growing aviation landscape. In collaboration with esteemed partners The Boeing Company, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., West Star Aviation, Scott Air Force Base, Mid-America St. Louis Airport, St. Louis Downtown Airport, and St. Louis Regional Airport, this event provided a comprehensive update on the latest developments, innovations, and trends within the Southwestern Illinois aviation sector.

Education and Workforce Development Panel: In addition to industry updates, the event also featured an Education and Workforce Development Panel, comprised of local educators, regional partners, and industry experts. This panel delved into the critical aspects of cultivating a skilled workforce in the aviation field, discussing collaborative initiatives, educational opportunities, and strategies to meet the industry’s evolving demands.

“Southwestern Illinois has a very robust and growing aviation industry highlighted by announcements from Boeing, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., and West Star Aviation in the past few months,” Leadership Council CEO Kyle Anderson stated. “Combine that with increased commercial flights from Allegiant Airlines in a growing MidAmerica Airport and you can say the future looks very bright. Listening to these leading companies and increasing the awareness of this industry in the St. Louis Metro area could help increase the talent pipeline desperately needed. So we quickly jumped into action to host this Aviation Week event. The amount of interaction and interest was amazing!”

Photos from the event shown above and below were captured by Melissa Crockett Meske/Illinois Business Journal, with some also published in the September 2023 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.

The second presenter at the Aug. 22 Aviation Industry Update hosted by the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois was Gulfstream Public Affairs Director Kyle Redner. He shared company updates and regional investments, while noting the need for strengthening the workforce pipeline as did all of the industry presenters at the event.


Brian Bauwens, West Star Aviation’s general manager for its East Alton facility, led attendees through some highlights about what the company offers to the region in terms of economic impact, workforce development and employment opportunities. West Star, along with Boeing, Gulfstream, and the regional airports, all welcome the chance to further invest in the future economy of the region and invited attendees to engage in dialogue with them.


Scott Raether was the fourth presenter at the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois Aviation Industry Update on Aug. 22 at the DoubleTree in Collinsville. Raether is the employment program manager at Scott Air Force Base’s Military & Family Readiness Center. In addition to the myriad of services the Center provides to active military and their families at Scott AFB, they also have programs and funds available to veterans to help connect, return, and stay in the region.


Following the Aviation Industry Update, the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois hosted a Q&A session with a panel of professionals actively engaged in the region’s workforce development. Event attendees were able to ask questions regarding what they had just heard from the aviation industry leaders immediately before the Q&A session began. Taking part as panelists for the discussion were, shown from the left: Matt Harter, Southwestern Illinois College’s coordinator/assistant professor of Aviation Maintenance Technology; Keith Mueller, Southwestern Illinois College’s program coordinator for Aviation Pilot Training/Aviation Management; Dr. Ken Trzaska, president of Lewis and Clark Community College; United States Navy Recruiter Samuel Vader; St. Louis Downtown Airport Director Sandra Shore; St. Louis Regional Airport Director Danny Adams; Collinsville Area Vocational Center Director Joe McGinnis; MidAmerica St. Louis Airport Interim Director Darren James; Rick Stubblefield, executive director of St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants & Economic Development Departments: and Madison County Employment & Training Director Tony Fuhrmann.

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