SCIGA HEARS FROM WORKFORCE BOARD DIRECTOR
The South Central Illinois Growth Alliance heard a report last week during the monthly meeting on the employment picture for the future. Jim McShane, director of the Crossroads Workforce Investment Board, said there will be plenty of jobs available in the future and that the country faces a challenge replacing 70-million retiring baby boomers with only 40-million new workers.
McShane reported that businesses today are looking for more and more skills from their employees. The workforce investment board has identified health care, agriculture, energy, and advanced manufacturing jobs as the areas with the most job growth potential in the region.
He commended the work of Kaskaskia College in taking the lead in developing a One Stop Center for employment services in downtown Centralia. The center is expected to be operational this winter.
Both the Salem and Centralia Economic Development Directors reiterated the need for the South Central Illinois Growth Alliance to seek out new business and industries.
TAYLOR SPRINGS SITE NAMED TO EPA WATCH LIST
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added the ASARCO Taylor Springs site in Montgomery County to the National Priorities List of Superfund hazardous waste sites. The 181-acre site was proposed for addition to the list in April 2006. The property, which contained a zinc smelter and zinc oxide production facility, is owned by ASARCO. Previously, the zinc oxide facility was operated by American Zinc Lead and Smelting Company and more recently by Midwest Zinc. Pollution on the property, including contaminated soil and two production waste slag piles, dates to 1911. Some waste materials were also used as fill dirt in the neighborhood near the site.
Since 1994, ASARCO has performed several site investigations under the supervision of Illinois EPA. Currently, the EPA is evaluating whether any action will be required to address lead contamination at some nearby residential properties. A community information session will be scheduled by the EPA in October.
AMTRAK SALUKI TO START RUNNING IN LATE OCTOBER
Beginning October 30th Illinois’ partnership with Amtrak will more than double state-sponsored passenger rail service downstate. State-supported roundtrips will increase from the three daily roundtrips to seven daily roundtrips between Chicago and downstate destinations. The expanded service comes after news that all state-sponsored Amtrak routes posted record ridership levels for Illinois’ Fiscal Year 2006; the expansion includes an additional round-trip on the Chicago-Carbondale line.
This spring, the Illinois General Assembly increased state funding for passenger rail service by Amtrak from $12.1 million to $24 million.
The Illinois Department of Transportation, which is the partnering agency with Amtrak, has chosen the Saluki as the name of the new Chicago-Carbondale train. The Illini will continue to operate on its current schedule on the route. Combined with the City of New Orleans, another train that is part of the national Amtrak network, three daily round-trips will be available between Chicago and Carbondale.
Daily train service between Chicago and St. Louis will increase from three roundtrips to five roundtrips.