Sauget Business Park – At the Center of the U.S. Freight Network
Founded in 1926 as the “Village of Monsanto”, the community that is home to Sauget Business Park was renamed “Sauget” in 1969 after Leo Sauget, the Village’s first President and great grandfather of the current mayor. The community has been home to industries from across the country and around the world, including Eastman Chemical (formerly Monsanto), Veolia, Cerro Copper and Korea Zinc, which are all located in the “heavy” industrial corridor.
Sauget is located at the crossroads of major infrastructure systems – the third largest inland port, four interstates, six Class I railroads and St. Louis Downtown Airport, which all converge in this area to provide cheap, reliable and fast transportation of goods and services around the country. Those advantages ultimately led to the Village’s expansion east with the creation of the Sauget Business Park, an industrial real estate park, in the early 1990’s, when the current mayor’s uncle and father assembled 26 different adjacent properties.
“It really didn’t become a business park until Sauget Industrial Parkway was built connecting Curtis Steinberg Drive to the Interstate 255 (I-255) frontage road,” said Rich Sauget Jr., who has been Mayor of Sauget since 2003. “They secured a grant for that initial road because of the jobs that the first tenant — Gasket & Seal Fabricators — was bringing to the community. Once the Interstate 255/Mousette Lane interchange was built and the Sauget Industrial Parkway connected I-255 to Illinois Route 3, the park development started rolling.”
Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis, Sauget Business Park provides access to the Mississippi River, Interstates 44, 55/70 and 64, and the outer loop Interstates 270/255. St. Louis Downtown Airport is actually a tenant of the park. Thanks to this unparalleled connectivity, over the past 25 years, the business park has experienced tremendous growth. Sauget itself has taken the lead on design and construction of various infrastructure projects, helping to secure grants for more than $8.5 million in improvements to the roadways and sewer system throughout the park. To date, over $90 million has been invested in office and industrial properties within the park, and almost half of the park’s 700 acres is still available for development.
The business park is currently home to more than 20 tenants that, collectively, occupy more than 1.6-million square feet of space within the park. Tenants consist of light manufacturing, logistics, office/warehouse, aviation and health care facilities, ranging from Conagra Foods and Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation to FedEx Ground and Jet Aviation/Gulfstream. Branding Iron (formerly Holten Meat) is one of the largest employers and has been there since 1998. R&L Carriers is a national trucking operation that used the business park’s central location as the jumping off point for its westward expansion. R&L Carriers is now in 48 states – all except Alaska and Hawaii. One of the newest tenants is a medical marijuana facility that opened about two years ago. Love’s Travel Stop, which is currently under construction, is going to bring new dining options and revenue to the community, which Mayor Sauget notes needs a gas station. The business park also is home to the GCS Credit Union Ballpark and the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier Baseball League, making it the smallest community in the United States to have minor league baseball. While that may make the community unique and add to the quality of life, Sauget says it is the business park’s unmatched location that is the real magnet for those choosing to locate there.
“When we are approached by people who are looking at the Village (of Sauget), it usually has some sort of logistics tag to it. If you look at the outside limits of the Village of Sauget, you’re less than a mile from five interstates. We use the term ‘We’re the center of the center,’” said Mayor Sauget, referring to the phrase used to communicate just how central the Village of Sauget is in the region’s and nation’s freight network. “It’s 20 minutes from just about anywhere in St. Louis, which makes it a great location from the start; and being next to the airport allows for connectivity to the world for any type of business owner if they so choose. Some of the park tenants have planes here, including Stellar Manufacturing and Holten Meat. There’s been an ongoing working relationship between the airport and business park.”
Another advantage for tenants choosing Sauget Business Park is its location in an enterprise zone, which allows for abatement of the village’s portion of taxes. For new construction, it also allows for sales tax to be abated. Sauget also has the largest Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district in St. Clair County, which means some funds are available to continue to improve infrastructure. Available sites have the ability to connect into the water, sewer, natural gas and electric utilities right off the main roads, and the northern parcels even have potential to be accessed via rail. Right now, 300 acres of land are available within the business park, in parcels ranging from 5 to 100 acres.
While there is room to grow, existing tenants already employ more than 1,800 people. Within the business park, almost all of them are manufacturing and logistics jobs. A few of the businesses are in the adjacent office park and baseball stadium complex area on I-255. Mayor Sauget estimates that a significant percentage of the industrial jobs in St. Clair County are within the 3 ½ miles that make up the Village of Sauget.
As chairman of the MidAmerica Workforce Investment Board (MAWIB), Mayor Sauget plays a role in helping to fill those jobs. MAWIB is a collaboration of business, economic development, education, human resources, community and labor leaders seeking to improve Southwestern Illinois. It covers St. Clair, Clinton, Washington, Monroe and Randolph counties, handling all training dollars through St. Clair County, Ill. Over the years, through Mayor Sauget’s connections, the organization has been able to place a lot of people that had been out of work in positions at the business park, with many of them securing employment at Gulfstream, Stellar Manufacturing, Holten Meat, FedEx Ground and various other employers throughout the Park and St. Louis downtown Airport. They are particularly proud when a job placement involves someone who has overcome incredible odds to make their way into or back into the workforce.
“We have worked very closely with St. Clair County to help provide jobs and places of employment for the folks that qualify under the workforce investment board’s programs so they have a place to go,” said Mayor Sauget.