Illinois Construction Project Expected to Create Jobs and Economic Relief

By Jemima McEvoy Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A new construction project in Illinois — one of the most ambitious in the region — is anticipated to generate $1.53 billion in economic output and over 1,000 jobs, according to a new study from Northern Illinois University. Economic relief couldn’t come at a better time. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the US economy, leaving millions of Americans out of work, new sources of income are absolutely vital. This project, still in its nascent stages, is slated to offer some much-needed relief.

The project is spearheaded by the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance in Springfield, Illinois, and centers around the proposed construction of a 1,090-megawatt natural gas-fueled combined-cycle facility 20 miles south of Illinois’ capital.

“The unparalleled access to natural gas transmission makes this project uniquely positioned to produce among the lowest cost power in the Midwest,” reads a description on the project’s website. Natural gas is a fossil fuel (though there are types of renewable natural gases) that, along with oil, powers most of the country’s industry and electricity.

However, natural gas wouldn’t be the project’s only contribution to the Midwest. According to the assessment published on September 28 by the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance, the Lincoln Land Energy Center is expected to generate a whopping $1.53 billion in economic output during its construction and could create more than 1,000 in direct and secondary jobs. This would be a massive injection of life to the Illinois economy.

“Opportunities like the LLEC development rarely come along in our lifetimes,” said President and CEO of the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance Ryan McCrady in a press release. “This would certainly be one of the largest private investments in our region.”

McCrady also pointed to the developer’s intention to use workers from the community on the project, which “significantly increases the economic impact and benefits to our community,” adding: “This investment will be a catalyst for additional developments in our region.”

Construction is expected to begin the first quarter of 2021 and will be completed in two phases, ending in 2027. The development team—which includes EmberClear, Siemens Energy, and Bechtel Power Holdings, LLC. — will directly employ between 300 and 500 workers throughout the entire phase of construction, requiring around 700 at the project’s peak in 2022.

The first unit, built during the first phase of construction, is expected to be fully operational in 2024 and will employ approximately 30 full-time workers. Then, once it’s fully operational, the project will employ 34 workers with average salaries ranging from $100,000 to $120,000.

“The highly-skilled men and women of the Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council are looking forward to making this project a success,” said the council’s Financial Secretary-Treasurer for Central Illinois Aaron Gurnsey. “This project would not only provide good-paying job opportunities for hundreds of workers, it can also spur economic growth throughout the entire Central Illinois region and set the groundwork for future opportunities.”

In addition to the employment opportunities, economic benefit comes from a $3 million upfront payment to the City of Springfield, annual payments to the city for the next quarter-century, a contract for water services, a hosting agreement with the Village of Pawnee, and property tax revenue for local taxing districts.

The group behind this project, the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance, is a public-private sector partnership founded in 2018 that’s focused on advancing economic development efforts in Springfield and Sangamon County.

“SSGA is helping create and market a financially sound community; able to attract new businesses and skilled talent, while retaining the innovative companies and local workforce who already make Sangamon County their home,” explained a statement from the company.

Springfield has become a more desirable place to live and work for many Americans. In January of this year, Moneygeek ranked Springfield second in terms of best mid-sized U.S. cities for making a living. With around 115,000 residents and a strong income to cost ratio, Springfield is more than just a historic site in Illinois. Plus, the city is seeing growth in several core industries and continues to tout a solid job market.

“Perhaps best known as Abraham Lincoln's hometown, Springfield attracts tourists ready to immerse themselves in a history lesson of the Civil War president, through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site,” wrote Moneygeek. “But to those who live and work in Springfield, the capital city exhibits remarkable stability and opportunities for a city of its size.”

If this project goes through, it could contribute to the city’s upward trajectory and set the stage for similar future projects.

About the Author

Headshot of Jemima McEvoy

Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.

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