Business development boosts city economy

By Gus Bode

With the recent opening of two new businesses in Carbondale and four more on the way, Carbondale’s Economic Development Manager Jeremy Hayes said this is a good sign.

“They are pin pointing that there’s capacity in the market here, especially with Carbondale having a young demographic,” Hayes said. “That is attractive to certain retail establishments and restaurants.”

The Great Outdoors Company on Giant City Road along with Houlihan’s restaurant on Reed Station Road both recently opened their doors to the public. Plus, Kohl’s Department Store, Save-A-Lot, Packlite Outdoor Gear and a new First Southern Bank branch are all slated to open business in Carbondale within the next year.


All these businesses coming to the area will basically increase the city’s estimated assessed value community wide, said Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole.

“In terms it helps distribute the tax burden,” Cole said. “It increases our community value and stimulates growth.”

This is good for the community not only in the short term but also in the long run explained Raymond Lenzi, SIU assistant vice chancellor for economic development.

“In general, new businesses bring in more buildings, investments and jobs,” Lenzi said. “It adds to the economy and creates further spin-offs.”

Cole said one of the focuses of his administration is to develop and grow the community, which he said they are doing through economic development.

“If you’re not moving forward, you are falling behind,” Cole said. “Standing still is really not an option for us.”

In fact, the only problem Lenzi said he sees when an area develops is a conflict between preservation groups and developers. But he said that dilemma usually isn’t the circumstance in this area.


“In Southern Illinois we have a huge amount of public land,” said Lenzi as he listed all the state and national parks in the area. He said this means the area has a large amount of land already set aside that will not be developed, which he contributes to the lack of conflicts.

Carbondale has two economic tools in place, which are used to attract businesses to the city. A tax increment financing district, which partially reimburses developers for the cost of building, covers a large portion of central Carbondale. This is where the Save-A-Lot and First Southern Bank will be located.

A large portion of the east end of Carbondale is part of an enterprise zone, which gives businesses a 100 percent property tax abatement for the first five years and a 50 percent abatement for the next five after that. This is where Packlite and Kohl’s will be located.

Furthermore, Hayes said the access drive that Packlite is creating on the southeast corner of Reed Station Road and Route 13 would continue to help the development of that area.

“The exciting thing about that project is that is going to drive additional development on that property,” Hayes said. “Not to mention the Reed Station Crossing that will be developing soon.”

How closely the city works at getting a business in the area is different for each developer, Hayes said.

“There is a lot of interest and enthusiasm in Carbondale,” Hayes said.

The TIF district alone has already created a $641,226 net gain for Carbondale. Because the city is a hub for professionals, services and entertainment in Southern Illinois, Cole said this is what attracts business developers to the area in the first place.

“You may see more in one area than others but we are focused on the entire community,” Cole said.