By TESA GLASS email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — During her State of the City address on Thursday, Mayor Mary Jane Chesley said there has been about $1 billion in investments made in the city over the last five years.
“Many people, businesses, organizations and institutions see our community as a quality community, and, along with the City Council, have invested time, planning and finances in improving its qualities and making Mt. Vernon a community where people will want to live, work, shop and participate in recreational activities and community events,” Chesley said. “The theme of the State of the City report this year is investing in Mt. Vernon.”
Chesley reported on investments made in the way of new expansion of business and industries, retail development, infrastructure, education, health and fitness, city operations and partnerships.
Business and industry investments included the opening of the Good Samaritan Regional Health Center; the Drury Inn project that is underway at Illinois Route 15 and Interstate 57; Continental Tire; Magnum Steel and Innotech.
“As of last week ... the Drury should be opening around the first of July,” Chesley reported. “It’s going to be a very attractive entrance to the city.”
Continental Tire has announced $129 million in investments at the Mt. Vernon plant, and this year saw the beam signing for its expansion to the commercial tire building, and drove the final spikes for the railway spur.
“This is not just money they have invested in, but jobs,” Chesley said of CTA. “We have worked hard to keep them here and work with them.”
Magnum Steel opened its new $15 million facility over the last year, and Innotech Manufacturing has grown from 10
employees to about 100 employees from 2009 through 2013, Chesley reported.
Retail investments highlighted by Chesley included the Times Square Mall renovations and opening of Hobby Lobby and the new Big Lots; Dollar General building a new store on Salem Road and its completed building on South 10th Street; Maurice’s remodeling; Glik’s relocation in Times Square Mall; openings of Craft Corner, One Hope, Heartland Women’s Healthcare; Tyler’s; and Rare Chop House.
“In infrastructure, this year the long-awaited Veterand Memorial Drive and South Davidson extensions were opened,” Chesley said. “The completion opened up another transportation artery to alleviate traffic on Broadway, and opened acres of land for future development.”
Chesley mentioned the South 34th Street widening and resurfacing, the resurfacing of Airport Road, and the I-57/64 widening project.
“One of the biggest headaches we ever had,” Chesley joked about the Interstate project which brought the highways from four lanes to six lanes through the King City. “We should think of it as growing pains, ladies and gentlemen, and Mt. Vernon is growing.”
Chesley announced more construction work is coming on I-57/64. Bids will be let this quarter for road improvement north of Mt. Vernon at the tri-level connection bridges on the Interstates.
“Although it’s a two-year project, they do not believe there will be as serious a traffic flow interruption during this reconstruction,” Chesley said. “They don’t this it will slow traffic up a lot.”
After discussing upcoming projects and talking of parks and recreation and volunteer projects within the city, Chesley summed up her report.
“No other investment yields as great a return as the investment you make in your community,” Chesley said.
The full report is available on the city’s Internet website at www.mtvernon.com.