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Shawnee Community College and Shawnee Regional Economic Alliance Working in Collaboration with the Cape Girardeau Area MAGNET

(Ullin, Illinois) - Shawnee Community College and Shawnee Regional Economic Alliance working in collaboration with the Cape Girardeau Area MAGNET supports IDOT's decision to repurpose funding from the discontinued 66 Corridor Study to an independent focused study to evaluate connectivity options between Interstate Highway 57 located in Southern Illinois and East Cape Girardeau, Missouri, via the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge.

As it became increasingly clear the 66 Corridor Study would not be completed due to the lack of participation by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, we appreciate and value IDOT's willingness and flexibility in recognizing how important this essential transportation corridor is to the future viability of southernmost Illinois communities as well as connectivity to other regional transportation assets including Interstate Highway 55 in Missouri.

According to Dr. Tim Bellamey, President of Shawnee Community College, "We must address critical transportation challenges that businesses have been struggling with for many years to provide them with an opportunity to grow. We have heard from residents and businesses alike about the significant transportation difficulties and unsafe road conditions. I strongly believe improving our region's transportation linkages will enhance current business expansion opportunities as well as attract future economic development to our communities resulting in sustainable jobs. Anyone who lives in our area knows the travel challenges and safety concerns of our current narrow and crumbling local roads and bridges making it difficult for cars, trucks, and farm equipment to navigate safely. By enhancing our region's multi-modal transportation assets and connectivity across the board between Illinois and Missouri, SCC will be able to grow easier accessibility to career-technical and higher educational programs offered by my college to students and residents who then will have stronger job prospects in our regional area."

Working in collaboration with John Mehner, Director of the Cape Girardeau Area MAGNET and President of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, we jointly recognize the importance of building a bi-state coalition to encourage regional economic development and building competitive multi-modal transportation infrastructure assets. John Mehner and his team have also worked extensively for years to encourage a connectivity corridor from Interstate Highway 55 to Interstate Highway 57 in Illinois. According to John Mehner, "We thank the Illinois Department of Transportation for recognizing the importance of enhanced infrastructure to our regional economic development effort. Together with our Illinois partners, we are ready for this next step."

For more information, contact Dr. Tim Bellamey, SCC President, at 618-634-3221 or timb@shawneecc.edu.