Marion sees boom in retail development

Construction crews are busy building new restaurants and businesses all around Marion, Illinois. Along with giving families more places to grab a bite to eat, the added boom in future businesses is providing a bump to the southern Illinois economy.

You can’t drive too far in Marion these days without seeing construction. One of the biggest projects in town is Williamson County’s expanded airport terminal. Airport Director Doug Kimmel says, after years of planning, they’re glad to see the project just months away from completion. Kimmel is also chairman of the Marion Chamber of Commerce 

"We’re excited. We’re months away from being done with a 10-year project, and we couldn’t be more pleased," said Kimmel. He says an airport often indicates the economic conditions of the area. He says for them to be expanding at the same time as the town isn’t surprising, but it is exciting.

New restaurants, gas stations and businesses are going up all over town. Mayor Bob Butler says this is Marion’s biggest building boom.

"This has got to be the peak for new business and construction at one time," said Butler.

Off Highway 13 near Rent One Park, a Jimmy John’s is going up and a strip mall will soon occupy the space where a hotel used to be. That mall is expected to host buildings and a restaurant, as well as a coffee shop. Nearby are newly-opened businesses, including a Huddle House. Butler says the construction is giving Marion plenty of building jobs and, once the new businesses are all open, he says they’ll need to hire plenty of people, too.

"Many of these businesses will be employing people from surrounding communities. That has to be a benefit, a plus to those towns," Butler said.

He says new jobs will give a needed boost to the economy there and, once that happens, they could see new people, even new airlines, coming to town.

"You know, certainly, it bodes well for this region, not just Marion, because what happens in Marion reflects nicely on Carbondale and Herrin and Carterville, this entire corridor," Kimmel said.

He says all these new projects going up will help make southern Illinois’ future a whole lot brighter.

The Williamson County Regional Airport’s new terminal is expected to open in November. Other businesses coming to the area include IHOP, Culver’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings.

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