Don’t let the small-town, easy-going vibe in Carbondale fool you; it has the kind of economy you would expect in a bigger city.
The Heartbeat of the Carbondale Economy
At the center of the Jackson County economy sits the town’s largest employer, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Because the university is the economical life source of Carbondale, the locals have the opportunity to live in a small town with big city amenities as well as increased job security.
SIUC and the John A. Logan Community College have been an ever-present help in times of economic crisis. When one of Carbondale’s larger industry, coalmining, began to shut down, it resulted in the loss of 15,000 paying jobs. Both colleges counteracted the crisis with their own workforce education programs. The programs were designed to provide training and reeducation for employees and to help idle workers reenter the work force. Even today, John A. Logan College is in the forefront of customized training for workers.
Additionally, SIUC provides the Community Care Scholarships. Created by the subcommittee of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, The scholarships enable students from Southern Illinois to attend SIU as well as encourage these students to remain in Carbondale after graduation so the town can retain their workforce.
An Ever-Growing Job Market
The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce unites a buffet of businesses, which in turn complements the Illinois town with economic diversity. Businesses include but are not limited to classy tobacco shops, local restaurants, vineyards, wineries, art stores and coffee shops.
The 25 counties of southern Illinois have also continued to see the manufacturing base grow faster than state or national averages. That includes everything from General Tire in Mt. Vernon to Compaq in Carbondale, from the various auto parts plants along I-64 and I-57 to boat manufacturers in Benton and West Frankfort.
Alternative industries have also sprung up to absorb some of the workforce and provide new career possibilities to a generation entering the job market since coal companies began retracting some two dozen years or so ago. Ethanol research may yet help cure some of the nation’s energy crunch while employing local workers and absorbing some of our overabundant corn supplies. And southern Illinois is attracting a significant retirement community, creating new service jobs.
Furthermore, the town does everything it can to encourage brave entrepreneurs to begin their own small business. On the Carbondale town website, there is a comprehensive information source to find the contacts you would need to begin your small business.
SIUC’s Small Business Incubator Program also assists budding businesses by providing business coaching and planning, peer to peer networking as well as start-up and expansion assistance.
At the end of the day, the town residents have held onto a time-tested truth: Carbondale will always seek to make progress and optimism abound, no matter the economic climate.
Discover more on living in Carbondale, IL.