The Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance (SSGA) is celebrating another record year in terms of advancing economic development and partnership opportunities across the region. SSGA was formed six years ago to promote and pursue economic development efforts in Springfield and Sangamon County and over that time, has helped facilitate more than $1.6 billion in economic development opportunities coming to the region over the next several years.
CEO Ryan McCrady said SSGA has worked to advocate for, advise and connect developers and resources for the advancement of several major projects over the last two years which are now coming to fruition. Those include projects such as the SCHEELS Sports Park at Legacy Pointe which held a groundbreaking ceremony in September of 2023, the Double Black Diamond Solar project, which is the largest solar development in Illinois and is currently under construction, and the Land of Lincoln Energy Center (LLEC) which is expected to break ground in 2024.
“There’s so much behind-the-scenes work that happens as a project moves from concept to construction and it's really exciting for us to see these projects start taking shape now,” said McCrady. “These are all projects that will have a positive impact on Springfield and Sangamon County’s economy and will help advance our overall future business development goals.”
SSGA has also helped advocate and advance several other major projects within the last two years including working with the City of Springfield to secure a $150,000 RISE grant from the State of Illinois to accelerate economic growth as part of the Mid-Illinois Medical District Master Plan. A strategic plan for the district is currently in final review. SSGA is also partnering with the City of Springfield to push forward Phase 2 of the Pillsbury Mills Site, an 18-acre development site in Springfield’s north end.
SSGA also helped secure a recently awarded Strategy Development Grant (SDG) as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s ReCompete Pilot Program through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). Springfield was one of only 24 cities nationwide to receive the grant money out of 560 applicants. The funding is intended to reduce unemployment and establish long-term economic growth.
“Springfield's success in securing this grant represents a pivotal step toward improving economic challenges within our city,” said Abby Powell, Director of Business Development at the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance. “With the EDA's investment bolstering our collective efforts, we're poised to reshape Springfield's economic landscape, fostering inclusive growth, nurturing new businesses, and ensuring equitable opportunities for every member of our community.”
Over the last year, SSGA also hosted a workshop to introduce HR professionals to job recruitment tools available through its website and partnered with the Lincoln Library to host a series of workshops for business entrepreneurs designed to help them gain insights and practice guidance on how to use library resources to grow and aid their business.
McCrady said in 2023 alone, SSGA engaged with local business leaders through nearly 100 business retention and expansion visits, held 25 community presentations and attended 15 conferences related to business development. It also worked to build connections with more than 50 site selectors and developers nationally who have expressed interest in Springfield and Sangamon County.
McCrady added his goal for the whole community is to feel the positive impact of Springfield’s economic growth. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment locally in Springfield is at 3.5% compared to a statewide average of 4.2%.
“As far as 2024 goals, we want to continue this positive trajectory and keep exceeding expectations,” said McCrady. “We’ve made great progress so far and are optimistic about what the future could bring in terms of potential growth.”
The public is invited to attend SSGA’s annual meeting this Monday, January 22 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Memorial Learning Center located at 200 Miller Street. For additional details or to register for the event, go to www.ThriveInSPI.org.