State Spotlight Shines On Southwest Illinois

State Tourism Deputy Director and Illinois Senate Tourism & Hospitality Committee Visit Region


(Alton, IL June 10, 2021)Tourism and economic development in Southwest Illinois were front and center Thursday when both the Illinois Office of Tourism Deputy Director and the State Senate Committee on Tourism & Hospitality visited the region.

Karla Flannery, head of the state tourism agency, toured southwest Illinois Wednesday and Thursday ahead of a Illinois State Senate Committee Hearing on tourism. The hearing, held at SIUE’s Fuller Dome, included testimony regarding the impacts of COVID on the region.

Illinois State Senator Rachelle Crowe, vice-chair of the committee, organized the hearing.

“It’s important that state leaders see the value of the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism region on the state’s economy and witnessed first-hand the impact tourism has on southwest Illinois,” Cory Jobe, President/CEO of the Tourism Bureau said. “We are very pleased that Sen. Crowe hosted the senate hearing in Edwardsville and we had the opportunity to showcase our amazing region to Deputy Director Flannery and the committee members.”

Alton Works, a regional development group, was among those testifying at the senate hearing. The organization is working towards creating transformational local and regional redevelopment opportunities. It is a private sector, social-impact redevelopment company working on economic development opportunities in the City of Alton. Alton Work’s primary goal is to revitalize the region through strategic transformational placemaking.

Alton Works launched in early 2018 as a philanthropic effort of John and Jayne Simmons. The couple established a program of property assembly within Alton and are currently creating a variety of programs designed to lift the community and create economic opportunities.

“Alton Works is committed to collaboration that betters the lives of everyone, not only in Alton but in the entire region,” said Pat McGinnis, Senior Advisor to Alton Works. “I told the committee that when COVID hit, like everyone else, we initially stepped back and were faced with a good deal of uncertainty, but we remained steadfast in our commitment to positive social change and began to look at regional and local revitalization as a sum of actions that all provide a link to creating liveability.”

Highlighting the region’s liveability and active lifestyle assets, economic needs and recovery from COVID were all important aspects of both the senate hearing and Flannery’s visit.

Jobe noted that Flannery visited attractions and businesses in Alton, Grafton, Collinsville and Edwardsville during her two-day stay. This was her first visit to the region as head of the state’s tourism office.

“Deputy Director Flannery was able to enjoy Grafton and ride the SkyTour to Aerie’s Resort, tour Pere Marquette State Park, meet with Grafton Mayor Mike Morrow at Grafton Harbor, enjoy the views at Tara Point in Grafton, spend time at The Loading Dock, tour the village of Elsah, visit Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Gateway Center, Collinsville, the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower and the National Great Rivers Museum,” Jobe noted. “We were also able to highlight the wonderful culinary delights our region has with meals in Edwardsville, Collinsville and Alton.”

Jobe also testified at the hearing focusing on the COVID recovery efforts in the region and the value of tourism in southwest Illinois.

To schedule interviews or for more information, please contact Stephanie Tate, Marketing Communications Director, Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau at (714) 395-9149 or via email at:

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