Illinois Business Journal Illinois Business Journal
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Critical Skills Shortage Initiative targets RN training and retention

With financial assistance through Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Opportunity Returns initiative, Southwestern Illinois employers and educators are developing a curriculum and workplace partnerships to ensure that this region has enough nurses to meet the needs of a growing population.


   When David Stoecklin and William Hanke of the Madison County Employment and Training Department pulled together a focus group of local hospital administrators, human resource directors and college representatives to discuss the shortage of registered nurses in Southwestern Illinois, it was a real eye opener for some of those involved.
   "It was my first time to realize that it was not a supply issue," said Tina Kristoff, manager of human resources for Alton Memorial Hospital. "It wasn't that there were not enough students interested in going into the programs; it was that the colleges were not able to take in enough students as the hospitals needed." [continue]

Transportation leaders contemplate alternatives for new bridge

   Although in discussion phase only at this point, congressional leaders and state transportation officials are pondering alternative scenarios of approaching the New Mississippi River Bridge project, should the federal transportation reauthorization bill known as TEA-21 result in fewer dollars than Illinois and Missouri have been hoping for.
   Illinois Department of Transportation region 5 engineer Mary Lamie said that as interested parties await the ultimate outcome of the Surface Transportation Act - one that at press time had been extended an eighth time until July 20 - Illinois is engaging in detailed discussion over changes in the new bridge project scope and construction timeframe.
   The discussions are necessary, she said; although IDOT remains optimistic over getting enough federal dollars to launch the $1.6 billion effort, it is likely that not enough dollars will be allocated in order to complete the project in six years - the duration of the soon-to-be-decided transportation funding legislation.
   "From our perspective, our strategy now is to wait for that transportation bill to be announced, and that announcement will determine the extent of construction (of the new bridge) as well as the duration of construction," said Lamie. "If we don't get the $1.3 billion in additional federal funding we'd initially hoped for, we need to have solid [continue]

Dealerships pump millions into O'Fallon economy, according to city officials

   O'FALLON - What'll it take to put that automobile dealership in O'Fallon, Ill. today? City leaders and dealership owners agree: the Interstate 64 East corridor in O'Fallon is the place to be.
   In 2004 alone, multiple car dealerships here drove some $2 million in sales tax revenues into the Southwestern Illinois city's coffers.
   City administrator Walter Denton said more than 55 percent of O'Fallon's annual budget comes from sales tax revenues, and that car dealerships are the biggest contributors.
   "They bring in about 36 percent of our city's annual sales tax revenue," he said. "Dealerships are definitely the largest category."
   Denton said the city estimates that more than $200 million in total sales is generated [continue]

The city of O'Fallon's strategy to attract automotive dealerships has paid off in the form of about $2 million in sales tax revenues annually.