Mike Pierceall Taking Position in Carbondale

Long time IEZA member and Economic Development colleague Mike Pierceall has moved employment from The Alliance of Edwardsville/Glen Carbon to Carbondale. The Alliance’s loss will be Carbondale’s gain. Mike’s accomplishments couldn’t have been stated any better than in the article written by Kerry L. Smith in the “Illinois Business Journal.” The article (follows just below) is a great tribute to Mike, and after receiving permission we decided to put the article on the IEZA web page. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did. Mike, you will always be a part of our group and we look forward to continuing to work with you!
Betty Steinert, President, IEZA

At the end of July, the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon community said "so long" to one of its most valuable professionals and wished him the very best as he headed further south to continue his economic development and planning career in Carbondale.

That individual is Mike Pierceall, a name many of your recognize. For the past nine years, Mike poured himself into the nonprofit economic development organization known as TheAlliance of Edwardsville & Glen Carbon. With a graduate degree and more than 25 years' experience in planning, Mike could have easily sought – and secured – work solely in the private sector, but he opted back then for a four year old, public-privagte organization (TheAlliance) because he saw the vital importance of its existence.

And he still does today, nearly a decade later. Ask Mike what he's most proud of, and his assistant, Liz Saul, is at or near the top of that list. She's the creator of the impressive website that draws thousands of visitors per month, many of them site location experts and site developers keenly interested in what Southwestern Illinois has to offer. In fact, it was recognized in 2006 by the International Economic Development Council as the best economic development webs site for communities with a population of 50,000 and under.

Mike is also very proud of effective, behind-the-scenes approach TheAlliance has perfected through the years. The Interstate 55 Corridor Plan is a classic example of this success, he says. Roughly 60 professionals donated their time and expertise as members of several project action teams. The project, which is just moving into its second phase, won an award for governmental coordination by the St. Louis chapter of the American Planning Association.

Being the first point of contact with developers, Mike says, is probably one of the the most valuable services TheAlliance provides its members, which include the city of Edewardsville, the village of Glen Carbon, Madison County and a host of for-profit area companies ranging from banks to engineering firms to utility companies and more. To the municipalities in particular, who do not have full time economic development directors on staff, TheAlliance fulfills that role in a big way. TheAlliance is there to catch the call from the developers, quickly feed them the demographics and site information, drive them around the area and provide whatever else they need – in the quick timeframe in which they need it – better equipping the municipality to handle any negotiations at a later point.

When Mike started working for TheAlliance back in the summer of 1998, the organization's budget totaled only $90,000 in cash. (The organization is also supported with in-kind contributions.) Nine years hense, TheAlliance's cash budget is still only $140,000. Of that total, approximately 65 percent is funded by the public sector, 30 percent by the private sector and 5 percent by other sources such as its annual Wine Fest.

It's obvious that Southwestern Illinois' residential and commerical growth continues to increase. It's obvious that the costs of marketing a region don't decrease. It's obvious that the development and site selection industry is extremely competitive, and that if we don't tout what we've got, someone else somewhere else will be touting what they've got to the same group of site seekers.

Recently TheAlliance asked its public sector partners to consider a modest increase in the amount of funding their municipalities contribute to the organization. They met with enthusiasm and support from some and less than that from others. The public-private partnership that TheAlliance represents has been an effective and resourceful means of meeting the needs of both communities in a cost-sharing manner.

To make a point relevant to TheAlliance's funding challenges, I think it's important to mention the change in thinking that the city of Collinsville went through over the past 10-15 years. The city's leadership was once thought of collectively as a "sleeping giant" that believed growth would just come to it automatically without having to plan for it or work toward it- or invest additional money to make it happen. But it wasn't until Collinsville invested in full-time city professionals skilled in development and planning, and until the mindset, and actually the faces of the elected officials, were changed who represented the city itself, that it embarked on a path of good growth.

I hope the municipality of municipalities who haven't quite comprehended the great value they're getting from TheAlliance as their tremendous "economic development subcontractor" will catch on very quickly and be able to increase their already good investment in this worthy organization.

We wish Mike Pierceall the very best in Carbondale; we know we haven't seen the last of him around these parts. The legacy he's built in the form of a stronger "Alliance" among the development community of Southwestern Illinois will continue to bear fruit in the form of strong communities. Thank you, Mike, from all of us.

Kerry L. Smith is president and chief executive office of the Illinois Business Journal . She can be reached at ksmith@ibjonline.com .