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Allegiant Announces New Flights from MidAmerica Airport to Fort Meyers
(L - R) St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern; Allegiant Manager of Airports Daniel Meier; and MidAmerica Airport Director Tim Cantwell announced the new flights in a press conference at MidAmerica Airport.
Allegiant Announces New Flights from MidAmerica Airport to Fort Meyers, Florida
MASCOUTAH, (, November 19, 2015 - St. Louis travelers will have the opportunity to fly Allegiant from MidAmerica Airport, non-stop to Fort Meyers, Florida, beginning February 18, 2016. The non-stop flights will operate twice weekly.

Airport and local officials today announced the low-cost service at a press conference held at MidAmerica Airport near Mascoutah, IL.

In a statement, St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern said: "As Allegiant continues to grow its presence here at St. Louis MidAmerica Airport, we're thrilled to be able to offer direct flights to another popular Florida destination."

"Whether travelers from throughout the bi-state St. Louis area are headed to Las Vegas, Orlando, Tampa or now Fort Meyers, they will appreciate no lines and free parking along with Allegiant's great low fares as part of their hassle-free experience of flying directly from MidAmerica," stated Kern.

Proposed Scott AFB NGA Site Press Conference
(L - R) St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern; Madison County Chairman Alan Dunstan; and, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, (D-IL) held a press conference to announce additional 200 acres to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) for future expansion. Photo courtesy Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois
St. Clair County Offers Additional 200 Acres to National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA)
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, (, November 16, 2015 - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, (D-IL), joined with St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern this morning at a press conference to announce that the County is prepared to offer an additional 200 acres to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) for future expansion, adding to a long list of advantages that the proposed Scott AFB site in St. Clair County offers for the NGA and the 3,000-plus employees who would work there.

Leading the list of advantages is the obvious synergies with Scott AFB that come from the proposed site's proximity to the base. Scott AFB is home to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), both of which are already clients of the NGA. This close connection to NGA's current military intelligence and business partners, and availability of existing secure state-of-the-art fiber-optic cable connections, make the site by Scott AFB uniquely positioned.

Other compelling factors include the site's convenient location adjacent to I-64 and a new interchange currently under construction; along with the fact that it is immediately available for construction, requires zero demolition above or below ground, and does not require cleanup of short term or long term contamination.

Among the additional notable advantages of the Scott AFB site are several that will directly benefit the NGA's 3000+ employees, including full fare reimbursement for transit riders, nationally recognized quality of life and unmatched community support. The recent announcement of the formation of the midwest's first Cyber Center of Excellence, which is initially located right outside of Scott AFB, also bolsters the case for this site, as it will play a role in helping to ensure the availability of trained and certified cyber security experts to meet future workforce needs.

"St. Clair County has enhanced an already strong proposal with the additional land," U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said. "Scott Air Force Base provides several advantages for the NGA and is a natural fit. Today, the Illinois Congressional Delegation reaffirms our bipartisan support for St. Clair County's bid to be the new home of the NGA."

"Physical and cyber security for our national intelligence assets is the number one priority for their total effective operations, and county, state and federal officials in Illinois contend that the Scott AFB site in St. Clair County is clearly the most advantageous site for those requirements, not only in the region but across the entire United States," stated Durbin.

St. Clair County, which is the sole owner of the land, has already noted it is willing to provide the initially proposed 182-acre site at zero cost and to cover any archaeological costs that might be incurred.

"The NGA has a major decision to make in the next few months, but the world elements we see today are not those that were present 40 years ago nor will they be present 40 years from now. In order to allow for the most expansive capability to situate a new NGA West, we in Illinois, as a team, clearly see a need to allow for future expansion of this important national asset," said St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern.

"To that end, for the next 10 years, and in accordance with the St. Clair County development plans, we will make available an additional 200 acres to expand the Scott AFB St. Clair County NGA West site for their mission needs," Kern stated.

Proposed Scott AFB NGA Site Press Conference
Map of proposed National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) site courtesy Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois

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Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Begin Opening for Business
SPRINGFIELD, IL, (, November 7, 2015 - The sale of medical cannabis to qualifying patients and caregivers will begin on Monday, November 9, 2015 at eight dispensaries located throughout the state.

Communities where dispensaries will be able to begin selling product include: Marion, Mundelein, Canton, Quincy, Addison, North Aurora, Schaumburg and Ottawa.

Qualifying patients and caregivers may visit any registered dispensary in the State, but must designate a single dispensary with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) in order to make a medical cannabis purchase.

The Director of Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, Joseph Wright, anticipates 12 to 15 medical cannabis dispensaries will be registered by the end of the November, with approximately 20 to 25 dispensaries registered throughout the State by end of the year.

According to estimates from IDPH, there are 3,300 qualifying patients in Illinois. Medical Cannabis Registry Identification Cards were mailed to qualifying patients and caregivers on October 30, 2015.

Midwest Cyber Center of Excellence Launched
Jason Carter, president of Aegis Strategies, LLC, addressed the crowd at the news conference announcing the new Midwest Cyber Center of Excellence, flanked by fellow speakers: (L - R) Terry Beach, St. Clair County economic development director; Mike Riley, president of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois; Thomas Johnson, associate vice president and chief of strategic initiatives, Webster University; and Georgia Costello, president of Southwestern Illinois College. Photo courtesy Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois
Midwest Cyber Center of Excellence Launched to Support Scott AFB
EDWARDSVILLE, IL, (, October 28, 2015 - The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois recently joined with partners from Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC), Webster University, The Aegis Strategies Foundation, and leaders from St. Clair County and Scott Air Force Base (AFB) to announce the launch of the Midwest Cyber Center of Excellence (MWCCOE).

The new non-profit organization has been formed to address unprecedented needs in the cybersecurity labor market being projected by local military, financial, healthcare, government and law enforcement agencies.

In recent months, the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois led a working group at the request of Scott AFB leadership to evaluate the viability of a cybersecurity center of excellence in the Midwest. The St. Louis Regional Chamber contributed to the effort, authoring a research report analyzing the specific cybersecurity workforce needs.

In its first phase, the MWCCOE will:

  • Offer cybersecurity certification training to produce a workforce that meets current needs;
  • Provide youth education to generate a future workforce through the implementation of a CyberPatriot Program in area high schools and grade schools; and
  • Raise further awareness through potential partnerships with other local institutions.
The second phase of the MWCCOE will engage in cyber-oriented research and development and entrepreneurial activity.

Webster University's Cyberspace Research Institute will donate expertise and services in the form of advanced training in its M.S. degree in cybersecurity, other professional courses, a cybersecurity threat detection certificate, and will play a key role in getting the CyberPatriot Program off the ground. Trainees at the Center of Excellence will have access to virtual laboratories housed on Webster's St. Louis campus.

SWIC will provide access to computer labs and training space at our campuses to support the MWCCOE and will provide classes for needed certifications such as the CCNA Security, Security + and Network +. The community college will also assist with grant writing, marketing and Career Center Services.

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern highlighted the significance of this new endeavor. "Establishing a Cyber Center of Excellence has the potential to support Scott AFB and other stakeholders, improve regional economic development efforts, and further advance Southwestern Illinois and Greater St. Louis," said Kern. "It also could make a real difference as we continue to make the case that our location by Scott AFB is the best location for the new National Geospatial Agency."

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