Southern Illinois Region

Leadership Community

The Southern Illinois Region’s network is the footprint of the SI Now economic development initiative, which includes the 17 southernmost counties of Illinois (Jefferson, Randolph, Perry, Franklin, Hamilton, White, Jackson, Williamson, Saline, Gallatin, Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Alexander, Pulaski, and Massac). Since the region is geographically large, Success Network activities will begin as seed projects in Jackson, Johnson, and Williamson counties and then expand to other counties.

SI Now serves as a regional economic development hub and unified voice for the 17 southern counties of Illinois to advance the region as a great place to live, work, and do business. SI Now was created to provide a positive ripple effect for citizens, communities, business owners, and local governments in Southern Illinois by:

  • Creating jobs and opportunities for upward economic mobility
  • Improving well-being and quality of life
  • Attracting new businesses and residents
  • Equipping the workforce with specialized skills
  • Creating opportunities for existing businesses to increase revenue through increased sales/clients
  • Increasing the tax base for local governments
  • Reducing or stabilizing tax burdens on citizens and businesses


SI Now is currently focused on:

  • Attracting and expanding business in the region
  • Partnering to support existing businesses
  • Developing our workforce education through training and employment growth in high-wage sectors
  • Creating a “win mentality” by elevating perceptions both within the region and beyond

Lead Intermediary Organization


Areas of Expertise

  • Employer engagement
  • Regional collaboration and convening

Prioritized Focus Areas

  • Food and Natural Resources
  • Health Science & Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Technology & Trades (including Aviation and Automotive)

Key Successes

  • Regional Stakeholder Convening: In 2018, Southern Illinois University Carbondale convened leaders from throughout the region to identify key issues and impediments to regional and individual business growth. This Business Leaders Roundtable brought together twenty business owners, economic development professionals, regional elected officials, and educational leaders to identify priority areas. The group later became Southern Illinois Now (SI Now), a 17-county regional economic development.
  • Priority Identification and Task Force Creation: Three priority areas (Business Growth and Development, Education and Workforce Development, and Marketing the Region) were identified, and task forces were created for each area.
  • Needs Assessment: A regional assessment conducted by the Education and Workforce Development Task Force revealed that SI Now could best assist by:
    • Facilitating regional collaboration to improve postsecondary credentialing
    • Considering Leadership Community designated by the Illinois Education and Career Success Network
    • Working with educators to provide and promote post-high school opportunities to pursue certificates and licensures
    • Partnering to ensure workforce pipeline to meet region’s staffing needs
    • Collaborating on postsecondary recruitment and retention efforts
  • Southern Illinois Regional Leadership Community Development: The task force identified key activities, goals, and strategies as part of the Illinois Education and Career Success Network’s Leadership Community application. Approved in 2023, the Leadership Community designation filled a gap in the southern region and created a collective approach toward the region’s postsecondary attainment goals.
  • Pilot Program: As part of the initial pilot activities, Vienna High School and Herrin High School partnered to secure funding to advance IT career exploration and pipeline development activities.

2-Year Goals

  • Convene career coaches from each participating high school (Carbondale, Brehm, Herrin, and Vienna) to share the following objectives:
    • Share overviews of current career development curriculum at each high school,
    • Introduce the PACE Framework, and
    • Identify and plan to implement career cluster orientation and postsecondary options workshop for 9th graders.
  • Implement career cluster orientation for 9th graders.
  • Implement postsecondary options workshop for 9th graders.
  • Identify employers willing to provide Career Exploration Activities for 10th graders at Carbondale, Brehm, Vienna, and Herrin High Could be “Meet the Employer” day site visit or job shadow opportunities. SI NOW will first prioritize identifying employers in the following industries:
    • Food and Natural Resources,
    • Health Sciences & Technology,
    • Manufacturing, and
    • Technology & Trades (including Aviation and Automotive)
  • Implement Career Exploration Activity Program or “Meet the Employer” Program for 10th graders.
  • Identify employers willing to provide Career Development Experience (Internship) for 11th and 12th graders at Carbondale, Brehm, Vienna, and Herrin High Schools.
  • Implement Career Development Experience/Internship Program.

Community Updates

Future Teacher Program Highlights

The Southern Illinois Future Teacher Coalition (SIFTC) has aided in the creation of Educators Rising or Future Teachers Clubs in the following 20 southern Illinois

$1.4 Million Investment in Laborers’ High School Program

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $1.4 million to southern Illinois to provide career training and supportive services to help workers secure good construction and laborer jobs through a partnership between regional high schools, Shawnee Community College, and local labor unions.

Southern Illinois Region Named Network’s 19th Leadership Community

The Success Network Organizers are thrilled to welcome the Southern Illinois Region as our newest Leadership Community. The regional team, led by SI Now, brings expertise in employer engagement and regional convening, and we look forward to sharing their experiences with communities across the state.