Carbondale will keep the focus on downtown in 2019, Mayor Mike Henry told members of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce at his recent State of the City Address, while continuing to work with major partners like SIU and Southern Illinois Healthcare to advance the city's future prospects.
As part of his State of the City Address delivered at the Carbobndale Civic Center, Henry said the city made substantial gains on downtown improvements this year by completing phase 2 of the streetscape project, introducing free Wi-Fi, welcoming the Hilton Home2 Suites hotel, and bringing back official Halloween after a nearly two-decade hiatus.
Henry said efforts will continue into 2019 with phase 3 of the streetscape project, as well as continued lobbying for a federal grant to replace the Amtrak station with a larger, modern transportation hub.
"The city along with SIUC and Southern Healthcare will make another trip to Washington, D.C. to pursue funding for our Regional Multimodal Center," Henry said.
"Amtrak is a vital resource for SIU, providing easy access Carbondale. This center would also be used by taxis and other means of mass transit to move people throughout the region. This effort will also enhance our visibility with our federal legislators, improve relationships with federal agencies and provide Carbondale with a voice in our nation's capital."
Henry's comments Tuesday also addressed the city's continuing relationship with SIU as the university seeks to reverse a decade-long enrollment slide.
He said the university is working hard to address the problem.
"To that end, SIU has made significant improvements in recruitment activities," Henry said.
"They are using direct mail, high school visits and campus visits with tours of the city for prospective students and their parents."
He also praised the investment and partnership between SIU and SIH that led to the current construction of a family medical clinic and teaching facility just north of Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.
"This 40,000-square-foot facility will create 300 construction jobs and use all local subcontractors," Henry said. "SIH is paying for the construction and leasing the facility to SIU's School of Medicine at cost. The project is expected to be completed by May 2019."