Location & Transportation
The four county region is located in the center of the Midwest Region, approximately 50 miles from Peoria, Illinois, 50 miles from the Quad Cities, 200 miles from Chicago, and 220 miles from St. Louis. The region is situated in West Central Illinois within four major interstates: 1.5 miles from I-74 (north-west); 30 miles from I-80 (east-west); 35 miles from I-88 (north-east); and 55 miles from I-55 (south east). The area is also served by three US highways.
Mercer and Henderson counties have borders that lie on the Mississippi River. The 2008 population of the four county region was approximately 94,460.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway in Knox County has mainlines which carry 150-200 trains a day through the Galesburg area and adjacent counties in seven directions. Galesburg also has a municipal airport, and each of the four counties is within an hour’s drive from the Quad City International Airport. Additionally, over 100 motor freight carriers, including all major national carriers, serve the four county region.
Knox County is the only one of the four counties to offer public transit. The City of Galesburg provides fixed route service (buses) through a not-for-profit—Galesburg Transit and ADA Para transit through a City Division called Handivan. Galesburg Transit operates 5 fixed routes from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Galesburg Transit operates with 6 buses in-service and in 2008, provided 141,126 rides. The Handivan also operates the same hours and days but additionally provides evening service until 10 p.m. with reservations. The Handivan operates with 6 medium duty vans that are lift equipped to provide curb assistance for the disabled. In 2008, Handivan provided 17,349 rides and had 1,754 registered riders.
Knox County provides water treatment services to its citizens and surrounding areas via its plant in Oquawka, Illinois. Sanitary sewer service is provided to its citizens and several surrounding areas from the plant on Main Street in Galesburg as well as the plant in Knoxville. The water treatment plant has a rated capacity of 12 mgd, average daily demand of 5.5 mgd, and peak demand of 9 mgd. Galesburg’s sewer treatment plant’s rated capacity is 11 mgd, its average daily demand is 7 mgd, and peak demand is 28 mgd. Knoxville’s sewer treatment plant has a design capacity of 660,000 gallons and a maximum capacity of 1,650,000 gallons.
Given municipalities’ in Warren County’s proximity to Galesburg, much of the area is served by the Galesburg water treatment plant in Oquawka.
Due to the fact that Oquawka is located in Henderson County, much of Henderson County also uses the water treatment plant in Oquawka for their water needs. The primary source of sanitation for Henderson County is the sanitation plant located in Burlington, Iowa.
Mercer County’s water service needs are facilitated by the Aledo water treatment plant located in Joy.
The Ameren Illinois Power Company, (Ameren IP), provides gas and electric power to most of the four county area. Ameren IP has a reputation for uninterrupted service. Given that, Illinois is a deregulated energy state, users can choose between IPs bundled rates or consider unbundled rates from alternative retail electric suppliers (ARES).
Telephone, Internet & Cable (All)
Comcast, CenturyLink, and AT&T provide local telephone, internet, and cable services.
Knox County and Warren County are both home to small, private, liberal arts colleges. Knox College is located in Knox County in the city of Galesburg and is nationally ranked academically among all colleges in America. Monmouth College is located in Warren County in the city of Monmouth and is very successful athletically year after year in their conference of play.
Also located in the city of Galesburg (Knox County) is Carl Sandburg College, a community college. The college’s Business and Technology Center offers degrees and certificates in industrial technology programs. Some of the individual training courses offered include:
- Industrial Safety
- Manufacturing Processes
- Industrial Safety
- Electrical Principles of Welding
- Metal Preparations
In general, the four county area offers a dedicated and hard working workforce with company loyalty and a low absenteeism rate. Several local entities are engaged in taking the steps necessary to keep the workforce productive, reliable and adaptable to change.
Carl Sandburg College offers an increasing range of vocational courses as well as programs for the college bound at their Galesburg Area Vocational Center (GAVC). GAVC enrollment consists of students from Mercer, Knox, and Warren county high schools. Twenty-six universities / four-year colleges and twenty community colleges are within a 100 mile drive of the four county region.
Quality of Life
The four county area of the EBI Network is just an hour’s drive from the Quad Cities metropolitan area. The region offers three hospitals and three clinics. The average cost of living is a comfortable 77.5%. Each county also has student-teacher ratios that are quite favorable.
Members of the four county area are proud of the attractive features for recreation and entertainment that can be found locally or within a short drive. Listed within these attractions would be:
Galesburg Railroad Days – train show, carnival, street fair, car show, concerts (Knox)
Chocolate Festival – buffet of chocolate and live music (Knox)
Knox County Scenic Drive – food and shopping (Knox)
Monmouth Car Show – car crews, food, concert, shopping (Warren County)
Prime Beef Festival – carnival rides, food, concerts, demolition derby (Warren County)
Alexis Fun Days – flea market, yard sales, street dance (Warren County)
Holly Days – holiday parade, shopping, bake sale (Mercer County)
Rhubarb Festival – food, crafts, music, and entertainment (Mercer County)
Knox County boasts two hospitals with a combined 272 beds, as well as two clinics. Cost of living is 78.3%. With the highest population of the four counties, Knox County has the highest student-teacher ratio at 15.88. Five school districts lie within Knox County; Abingdon, Knoxville, Williamsfield, ROWVA, and Galesburg. In both the Abingdon and Knoxville school districts there is one elementary school, one junior high school and one high school. The Williamsfield school district has one elementary school and one high school. The ROWVA school district includes two elementary schools, one junior high, and one high school. The Galesburg school districts offers the most schools with 6 elementary schools, two private schools, two junior high schools, one alternative school, and one high school.
Warren County has one clinic. Its cost of living is low compared to the rest of the state at 77.3%. Warren County has a student-teacher ratio of 14.1, the second highest in the four county area. Warren County has two school districts; United and Monmouth/Roseville. In the United district there are two elementary schools, one junior high school, and one high school. The United school district claims two elementary schools, one junior high, and one high school. Within the Monmouth/Roseville school district there is one pre-kindergarten, two elementary schools, one junior high, and one high school.
Mercer County is home to one hospital, which contains 62 beds. The cost of living in Mercer County is 77.7%. The student-to-teacher ratio throughout the schools in the county is 12.5 students to one teacher; second lowest in the four county region. The two school districts within the county are the Mercer County school district and the Sherrard school district. Each of the two districts includes two elementary schools, one intermediate school, one junior high, and one high school.
Henderson County has no major medical facilities. Its cost of living is 76.6%, the lowest in the four county area. There are 11.25 students for every teacher in Henderson County schools. The single school district in the county is the West Central school district which includes a pre-kindergarten, one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school.
The cost of doing business in the four county region is lower than state and/or national averages in several categories. These categories would include: wages; real estate; lease rates; tax assessments and maintenance. Secondly, thanks to the EBI network, these counties have visibly rededicated themselves to attracting new business, industry and investment to the community and have adopted a genuine Pro-Business stance.
What does a pro-business attitude actually mean in real world terms in the four county region? Flexible and accommodating financial assistance, enterprise zone benefits, a streamlined and timely permitting process, and a populace receptive to a variety of business and industrial uses.
Each of the counties in the four county region has a government made up of a County Clerk, Treasurer, Recorder, and County Board. Each official is elected in.
The four county region offers a total of 44 banks (Knox County – 15, Warren County – 10, Mercer County – 11, Henderson County – 8) and eight credit unions (Knox County – 4, Warren County – 1, Mercer County – 3, Henderson County – 0) to provide financial services. Several of these banks are also members of a regional three county Community Development Corporation (CDC), offering discounted, pooled interest rates.
Commercial Business Sector
There are two primary commercial districts in Knox County. Both are located in the city of Galesburg. These districts consist of a traditional downtown district (Main St.) and a regional strip shopping center, Sandburg Mall, and free standing stores on the northwest side of the community primarily located along Henderson Street.
The downtown business district is highlighted by the shops in the Seminary Street area which are known for their traditional and historical elements. This shopping area is a typical attraction for visitors of the City of Galesburg because of its unique shops and businesses.
Other commercial areas are scattered throughout the community. Most notably perhaps is the Seminary Square area in the north part of the city. The Square has a Buffalo Wild Wings and Wal-Mart, among other businesses and is currently undergoing rapid development. Construction of a Kohl’s store is scheduled for Spring 2012.
Within Mercer County, the primary business district lies downtown in the city of Aledo. Their Main Street consists of many small shops and cafes. Aledo prides themselves on the history of their downtown and the preservation of many historic buildings. In addition, the business district is located just off Illinois 17 and 94 making it convenient for visitors to access.
The primary business district in Warren County lies along Main Street in the city of Monmouth. Downtown Monmouth offers a variety of fast food chains in addition to locally owned restaurants such as Italian Village, JP’s Woodshed, Maple City Caf� and many more. Other popular shops along Main Street include Tara Spa Therapy, Traditional Amish Hardwoods, Columbia Decorating Center, Maple City Pottery, numerous car lots and automotive repair shops.
Monmouth is expanding their business district onto Illinois 34 around the existing Shopko with the recent building of a new hotel, new restaurant, new coffee shop and grocery shopping center all within a few years ago.
Demographics & Labor Market
Knox County had a 2008 census population of 52,919. The majority of its population comes from the City of Galesburg, which boasts a population of 30,043. During calendar year 2009, Knox County had a workforce population of 24,301 persons. The Labor market’s average unemployment rate for all of 2009 was 7.9%. Like many primarily rural areas, the age of the Knox County population is at about 42 years, somewhat older than the state as a whole. Median household income and per capita income, estimated at $38,535 and $20,872 respectively, is below the state average. Since 2000, there has been a slight increase, a little over $3,000, in the median household income. Education attainment for Knox County shows that about 14.8% of population has not graduated high school, 37.6% have a high school diploma, 22.1% have obtained some college, 9.8% have earned an associate’s degree, 10.2% have a bachelor’s degree, and only 5.5% have gone to graduate or professional school.
In 2008, Warren County had a census population of 17,551. Over half of that population comes from the town of Monmouth, with a population of 9,841. As of 2009, Warren County had 8,759 citizens in the workforce despite their 6.3% unemployment rate. The median age is the youngest of all the counties in the four county region at 40.1 years of age. Median income has risen from $36,224 in 2000 to $38,433 in 2009, but it is still well below the state average. Also below the state average is the per capita income, which is $19,961. Warren County education attainment consists of 13.7% not graduated high school, 36.7% high school graduates, 22.9% have some college education, 7.4% have an associate degree, 13.0% have a bachelor degree and 6.4% have a graduate or professional school degree.
Mercer County had a population of 16,440 in 2008. The population is evenly distributed in all of the municipalities within the county, the most populated town being Aledo at 3,620 citizens. In 2009, Mercer County had 8,831 citizens in the workforce and an unemployment rate of 6.9%. The median age of the county is above the state average at 42.7 years of age. Mercer County has a median income and per capita income of $51,200 and $25,081; the leader in both of those categories in the four county region. In addition, out of all four counties, their median income has seen the largest increase since 2000 when it was $40,893. The citizens of Mercer County make have an educational attainment of 11.4% non-high school graduates, 42.3% high school graduates, 23.1% some college, 10.2% have obtained associate degrees, 9.4% have obtained a bachelor degree, and 3.6% have a degree from a graduate or professional school.
Henderson County is the smallest county of the four with a population in 2008 of 7,550. In 2009, approximately 4,112 citizens of the county were in the workforce. An unemployment rate of 6.0% makes it the county with the lowest unemployment percentage of all four counties. The median age of 45.2 is the highest of all the four county area and significantly higher than the state median age. Median income has risen from $36,405 in 2000 to $39,536 in 2009, and the county’s per capita income as of 2009 is approximately $21,960. The people of Henderson County have an educational attainment of 14.6% non-high school graduates, 45% high school graduates, 18.4% have some college experience, 9.2% have an associate degree, 9.1% have a bachelor degree, and 3.6% have a graduate or professional school degree.
Business Development Incentives
The four county area can offer an impressive array of cost-saving incentive packages to new or expanding business or industry. Accessible incentives include Illinois Enterprise Zone District benefits, Tax Increment Financing Districts, Downtown Facade Improvement Grants, below market rate loans for both small businesses and industry, and the provision of public infrastructure and utilities to accommodate economic development.
Knox County’s only city which offers incentives to businesses is the City of Galesburg, with five TIF districts. Galesburg’s Enterprise Zone, initially certified for 20 years in July 1984, has an emphasis on commercial and industrial development and diversification. The State has approved a ten-year extension that expires on June 30, 2014. Originally designated at 1.5 square miles, the zone has been expanded several times. Much of the area now designated is zoned M-2, heavy industrial, although some of the designated area has other zoning such as B-2 and B-3, commercial; and R-3, multi-family. More than 90 businesses, ranging from manufacturing and warehouse operations to small service providers and retailers, are located in the enterprise zone.
In Galesburg, a seven-and-a-half percent state administered sales tax will be deducted on all construction materials purchased within the City and used on a construction project in the enterprise zone. The city and all local taxing districts will fully abate any increase in real estate taxes, resulting from the project, up to $1 million for a ten-year period, on property improvements, provided that the improvements create new jobs and that the abatement does not reduce the prior assessed value. Under Galesburg’s Economic Incentive Policy, some projects that meet specific criteria may qualify for additional incentives, including low interest loans.
In Warren County, Monmouth is the only city that allows certain incentives to businesses and employers. The sole TIF district in the City of Monmouth is located around the downtown/Broadway corridor; the location of many independently-owned as well as chain restaurants. This TIF district is conveniently located just blocks away from U.S. Route 34.
There are also opportunities for employer incentives in Mercer County in the city of Aledo. There is a TIF district for the downtown area which prides itself on is small hometown shops and cafes. Mercer County also has a Revolving Loan Program (RLF) that gives businesses the necessary financial assistance to expand under specific guidelines. Specifically in the town of Sherrard, they offer a Redevelopment Incentive Program that is intended for the expansion or improvement of existing businesses which will lead to a better quality of life for their citizens.
The four county area can boast of a diversified industrial presence for a community of its size with about 2,650 industrial jobs. Each county's largest industrial employers and approximate corresponding workforce numbers are:
Midstate Manufacturing (Knox) 210
Smurfit-Stone Container, Co. (Knox) 210
Galesburg Printing & Publishing (Knox) 100
Farmland Food, Inc. (Warren) 1,400
IMI MCR, Inc. (Warren) 80
Alexis Fire Equipment Company (Warren) 70
General Grind & Machine Inc. (Mercer) 210
Meminger Metal Finishing (Mercer) 35
Dadant & Sons, Inc. (Henderson) 25
Cessford Construction Company S.E. Division (Henderson) 14
Other major non-industrial employers in the area are: Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway in Knox County (1,114); OSF St. Mary’s Medical Center in Knox County (973); Galesburg Cottage Hospital in Knox County (500); OSF Holy Family Medical Center in Warren County (240); Mercer County Hospital (150).
The Knox, Warren, Mercer and Henderson County Labor Market Area clearly reflects a larger percentage of its total workforce being engaged in manufacturing employment than does the State of Illinois or nation as a whole.
Products or industry groupings well represented in the four county area include packaging, agricultural, and manufacturing.