By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
What do prospective companies want in a community? They want workforce skills, transportation infrastructure, and quality of life.
What they don’t want are politics and lack of responsiveness.
Southwestern Illinois leaders got some rare insight into what firms everywhere are looking for in the way of development potential during a two-day visit by the executive vice president of Site Selection magazine.
Drawing the attention of the prominent international business publication is a coup, and locals didn’t waste the visit — gladly highlighting opportunities that exist in Metro East.
The guest of honor for the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois was Ron Starner, executive vice president of Conway Inc., which operates the magazine and many related ventures.
The publication covers corporate real estate and economic development and is sent to almost 50,000 domestic and international high-profile site selectors and companies.
“Corporate real estate really is our heartbeat,” Starner said. “It’s the foundation of the publication because that’s our readership. We have over 45,000 ‘qualified subscribers.’ You have to be involved in some aspect of decision making at a company in order to receive it.”
About 60 percent of those 45,000 would be executives at manufacturing companies. A majority of those companies employ 100 or more workers, he said.
Starner has been with Conway Inc. for 19 years and serves as editor of the TrustBelt Report and lead organizer of the annual TrustBelt Conference. He also writes extensively for Site Selection and Conway’s Custom Content Publishing Division.
By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
SIUE’s Office of Educational Outreach hopes to expand on corporate partnerships that allow businesses a convenient way to add to their employees’ education credentials.
Interim director Mary Ettling said her office is stepping up efforts that have been underway for many years, primarily with area hospitals. The idea is to get a wider base of businesses willing to contract with and pay SIUE for accelerated classwork taken by their workers.
“That takes out the need for the student to figure out how to pay for their classes, how to navigate things that students normally have to figure out and allows them to just start taking their classes,” she said.
A corporate partnership is an exclusive contractual agreement between SIUE and a company for the sole purpose of building mutually beneficial relationships that align industry needs with the university’s resources. Ettling’s office works collaboratively with university academic units to create the contract.
Most of the program effort so far has revolved around health-care organizations and some smaller hospitals.
Greg Hoskins says his growing company aims to make the best newspapers better.
His firm, Better Newspapers Inc., based in Mascoutah, has purchased the Illinois Business Journal, based in Edwardsville, from owners Alan J. Ortbals and Dennis Grubaugh.
The sale was finalized on May 31 and brings to 21 the number of papers owned and operated by Hoskins, including several serving the Metro East market.
“We’re really glad to have a great paper like this to join our complement of community newspapers,” Hoskins said.
No significant changes are anticipated, he said.
The Illinois Business Journal prints 18,700 editions a month as a newspaper mailed to nonresidential addresses in Metro East. It also operates the news and advertising website, ibjonline.com, and publishes a weekly newsletter, IBJ Digital News.
The Illinois Business Journal was founded in 2000 by a longtime newspaper reporter, Kerry Smith, who in 2003 brought aboard Ortbals as co-owner. Ortbals’ background was in Southwestern Illinois economic development. Smith sold her stake in 2013, at which time Ortbals enlisted another longtime Southwestern Illinois newspaperman, Dennis Grubaugh, as partner. Smith returned to the IBJ in 2018 as marketing manager. All three individuals live in Edwardsville.
“The exit plan is an issue for every small-business owner,” Ortbals said. “The deal with Better Newspapers not only solves that problem for us but does so in a way that gives the Illinois Business Journal a bright future so that it will live on long after Dennis and I.”
Grubaugh will remain editor of the Illinois Business Journal. Ortbals, who is nearing retirement, will serve in a consultant role. Smith will continue to serve as marketing manager.
“I’m glad we found Greg to take over as owner,” Grubaugh said. “It gives the Illinois Business Journal the chance to continue to grow, using the resources of a much bigger operation dedicated to community newspapers.”
Jo Anna Pollock, a shareholder in the Alton-based law firm’s complex litigation department, has been elected to the Illinois State Bar Association Assembly for Circuit 3.
“I am honored to be elected by my peers and humbled to have their overwhelming support,” Pollock said.
Five candidates ran for four positions in Circuit 3. Pollock received more votes than any other candidate in the race.
Founded in 1877, the Illinois State Bar Association is the premier legal association in the state. As a voluntary organization of 28,000 members, the association's primary focus is to assist Illinois lawyers in the practice of law and to promote improvements in the administration of justice.