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Metro East warehouse complex still has room to grow

p01 towermanMike Towerman, in front of an artist’s work of Gateway Commerce Center.    St. Louis developer Mike Towerman got his first look at the land on which Gateway Commerce Center sits in 1992, years before a single wall had been constructed. He admits he underestimated the potential.
    “A friend of mine sent me over to look at an opportunity at that very interchange — the radio tower property owned by KXEN,” he recalled. “It had a sign on it: ‘70 acres for sale.’ I thought, ‘What is anybody going to do with this?’”
    Little did he know at the time, but Towerman had stumbled onto one of Metro East’s biggest secrets — wide open spaces, just waiting to be developed. Today, 17 buildings later, the answer is pretty clear as to what can be done with the land.
    Few could have predicted the economic bastion that Gateway Commerce Center would become. The sprawling logistics empire is the envy of many developers in the Midwest, a hub of warehouse and support businesses from which goods are delivered or shipped around the country. A significant benchmark in the history of the operation was reached this past month when ground was officially broken on an 18th building — the first to be constructed east of Illinois 255, in the Edwardsville portion of the complex. The $30 million, 717,060-square-foot spec building is being constructed on 53 acres by Contegra Construction Co.
    Gateway Commerce Center is bordered, generally, by Chain of Rocks Road to the south and almost to New Poag Road to the north. Running through the heart of it are two north-south arteries, Illinois Routes 111 and 255. Six of the warehouse buildings, plus the Flying J truck stop and a truck maintenance operation, are in Pontoon Beach. The rest are in Edwardsville.
    The vision for Gateway began with Rod Thomas, the former owner of Thomas Construction Co. in St. Louis, who was intent on developing industrial parks in both Missouri and Illinois when he and Towerman, a shopping center developer, linked up in 1996.
    “Rod and I had become acquaintances. Rod had a vision to build two industrial parks,” Towerman said. One was Park 370, along Highway 370 just north of Earth City in suburban St. Louis. The other was a project Thomas had his eye on just outside Granite City, along Interstate 270. He was in the process of assembling ground through farm options. Towerman joined Thomas on Nov. 1, 1996.
    “The arrangement was that Rod had the vision and he had the desire and he had the money to launch the projects, but he didn’t have the experience or the time to implement them, and that’s kind of where I came in,” Towerman said.

    Change is coming to the credit card industry and merchants need to be aware of the options and the risks.
    “October 1, 2015, is the first landmark date in the gradual move from magnetic strip technology to chip-based credit cards,” said Phil Hickman, president of the St. Louis/Metro East Market of Associated Bank. “Right now, if something goes wrong, the credit card gets lost, stolen, etc. the liability rests with the bank or the card issuer. But, Oct. 1, if the merchant is not chip-card ready, the liability shifts to them. That’s why it’s so important for merchants to understand their responsibility and their risks. If the merchant is not properly equipped, they will own that responsibility and they really don’t want to be there.”  
    This new, chip-based technology is not really new. Known as EMV, the specifications were first developed in 1994 by three companies: Europay International (owner of Europe’s largest credit card operation, Eurocard) MasterCard and Visa. The United Kingdom was the first to move to EMV in 2001 and much of Europe has since followed suit.
    Whereas the magnetic strip can easily be duplicated and then used for a raft of purchases, the microchip produces a new code for each transaction, according to Rob Schwartz, senior vice president of retail banking for the Bank of Edwardsville. While still subject to theft or loss, the EMV virtually eliminates the kind of wide-spread credit card fraud that hit Schnucks, Target and Home Depot in recent years.

p01 nurse(SIUE photo by Howard Ash)

Kevin Stein, third from left, an instructor and assistant director at the SIU School of Nursing, works with students in the simulation lab. His specialization is in nurse anesthesia.
    Millions of baby boomers are preparing to exit the workplace, and nurses are leaving with them.
    The result could be a calamity in the health-care industry if not enough men and women enter the field in coming years, some say.
    Illinois may soon face a shortage of registered nurses across all specialties, as an aging workforce readies to retire, according to a survey by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – Illinois Center for Nursing.
    Nursing schools in Southwestern Illinois have been reacting to the shortage for years, stepping up their programs to meet the growing need.
    Conducted during the 2014 Illinois RN licensure renewal period and released this year, the workforce survey was structured to capture data on the demographics, education and practice focus of RNs in Illinois. More than 90 percent of individual RNs completed licensure renewal via the on-line platform. The voluntary survey was completed by 52,902 RNs, representing 31 percent of the total RN population in Illinois.
    The results confirm what has long been a worry for some professionals.
    “Approximately 40 percent (of the respondents fell) in the 55 to 65 age bracket and had plans to retire in the next five years,” said Dr. Laura W. Bernaix, a registered nurse and interim dean and professor in the School of Nursing at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. “This similarly mirrors the national statistics that indicate we’re going to be seeing a reduction in the RN workforce.”
    In 2013, 55 percent of the RN contingent nationally was 50 or older, she said.

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aug15 simmonsrunningphotoMore than 800 people participated in the 2014 Alton Miles for Meso 5K Race & 2K Fun Run/Walk last year. Last year’s event raised approximately $30,000 for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. This year’s race will again benefit ADAO and will take place Saturday, Sept. 26, at the law office of Simmons Hanly Conroy in Alton.    ALTON  - Simmons Hanly Conroy, LLC, a national mesothelioma law firm, and the Metro Tri Club are pleased to announce the 7th Annual Alton Miles for Meso 5K Race & 2K Fun Run to benefit the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. The race is scheduled to take place Sept. 26, which is also National Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Early registration is now open.
    "Last year, the Alton Miles for Meso race raised a record-breaking $30,000 for ADAO," said Todd Adamitis, chief operating officer of Simmons Hanly Conroy. "We are excited to again support this great charity that does so much to help victims of asbestos-related diseases, including many of our clients."
    ADAO is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to banning asbestos and supporting victims of asbestos-related diseases through education, advocacy and community. ADAO was co-founded by Linda Reinstein and Doug Larkin in 2004 after their loved ones were diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of their asbestos exposure. Reinstein said ADAO looks forward to joining the racers and volunteers again for the Alton Miles for Meso race.
    “Last year it was moving to see so many people support mesothelioma patients on race day, including 700 runners and walkers and nearly 100 people from around the country who registered as virtual participants,” Reinstein said. “Events like Miles for Meso allow us to put a face on the asbestos man-made disease as we work to prevent exposure and shape policy. As we say at ADAO, ‘Hear Asbestos. Think Prevention.’”
    Mesothelioma, an incurable cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases kill 12,000 to 15,000 Americans each year, according to a 2015 report by the Environmental Working Group that reviewed population data from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Though it is a heavily regulated substance, asbestos is not banned in the United States despite being classified as a human carcinogen in 1976 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
    The Miles for Meso race also will include the ADAO Mesothelioma Warrior Team that will honor mesothelioma survivors or victims via Miles for Meso commemorative race bibs worn by runners of the Alton race in honor or in memory of the warrior.
    “Last year, the ADAO Mesothelioma Warrior Virtual Team allowed us to connect with runners and families from 17 states and four countries from around the world to raise asbestos and mesothelioma awareness,” Reinstein said.
    Race day festivities will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 26 at Simmons Hanly Conroy's national headquarters, 1 Court Street, across from Marquette High School. Activities include a kids' game zone, a dog adoption event hosted by Hope Rescues, a vendor fair representing local businesses and charities, and more. In addition, Jordan Zevon, ADAO spokesperson and son of Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, will give a special performance in honor of his father who passed away from mesothelioma in 2003.
    The 5K race and 2K run/walk will start at 9 a.m. The top five overall men and women finishers in the 5K race will win cash prizes: first place, $500; second place, $250; third place, $200; fourth place, $100; and the fifth place male and female runners, $50 each. Custom Miles for Meso medals will be awarded to the first, second and third place finishers in 5-year age groups. The top fundraising team and individual will also be recognized.
    "The Alton Miles for Meso race is always a great event for individuals, runners and families," Adamitis added. "We invite everyone to come out and help make a difference in the lives of people who have been harmed by asbestos."
    Registration costs $25 through Aug. 31, $30 from Sept. 1 to Sept. 21 and $35 Sept 22 through race day. Online registration closes Sept. 22. Race day registration is also available on-site starting at 7:30 a.m. Everyone who registers will receive a long-sleeved, technical race shirt and a goody bag from sponsors.
    Individuals who cannot attend on race day, but still want to show their support, may register for the virtual race and receive a race shirt. Virtual race participants in the United States who register by Aug. 31 will receive their shirts in time to wear them on Sept. 26. Participants can also create their own team to help raise money for ADAO during the online registration process.
    To learn more, visit www.milesformeso.org/register
About Miles for Meso
    Miles for Meso is an initiative of the Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation that was established in 2009 to raise funds and awareness for mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Miles for Meso races have been held across the country from Virginia to Florida to Washington State and beyond. Together, Miles for Meso events have raised more than $400,000 to benefit mesothelioma research and awareness.
    Simmons Hanly Conroy, headquartered in Alton and has offices in New York, California, Illinois and Missouri. The firm has represented thousands of patients and families affected by asbestos and mesothelioma and has pledged more than $20 million to cancer research and supports mesothelioma medical researchers throughout the country. For more information, visit http://www.simmonsfirm.com.