SCIRPDC’s Economic Base

 I have only worked with South Central Illinois Regional Planning & Development Commission for about a month, making this post is an exciting opportunity for me to learn about the region’s economic base. The analysis section looks at three types of data in two sections at the County level from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data were either examined “as is”, by comparing counties or industries against one another, or by combining them to perform regional analysis.

Before the data are described, it should be noted that the BEA will occasionally not provide a certain figure to “avoid disclosure of confidential information”. This happens when there are only a few people working in the industry or place in question, and thus a statistic about it could reveal something about their personal lives. While this did occur with some of the values for this analysis, only a few were affected. Between that and the fact that, by their very nature such figures must be small, there is no cause for concern.


The first dataset is County GDP, Gross Domestic Product, by Industry in 2001 and 2019. The two periods are analyzed both on their own, and compared then to see what changed between them, with the industries sorted into 15 groups (Table 1). Second is County total employment (i.e., a combination of full and part time jobs) from 2001 – 2019. Third is County total GDP, also from 2001 – 2019.


Industry Comparison

Over the past two decades, the regional economy has become somewhat more service based, even though industrial capacity has increased considerably (chart 1-3, table 2-3). The GDP contribution of each industry in the region (save for one) increased between 123 to 449% between the two periods, for an overall regional GDP growth of 170% (chart 1-3, table 2-3). Although the “ranking” and relative contributions of some industries changed, only one industry, utilities, contracted, contributing almost $50 million less to the regional GDP than it had in 2001.

County and Regional Comparison

The economic growth described in the previous section was concentrated in Marion and Effingham, although the other counties have also seen slow and steady growth since 2001 (chart 3). Concurrently, employment throughout the region has been either stagnant or decreasing, meaning that businesses and governments as a whole have been “doing more with less” (chart 3-5). Chart 5 specifically measures this example of economic efficiency, and shows that the most rural county of the five in the SCIRPDC area, Jasper is the clear front runner in the metric. Jasper is efficient compared to other regional entities, even the Chicago area (chart 5-6).


            In economic development, rural areas are often overlooked in favor of discussing metropolitan ones, but as the analysis has demonstrated, this is a mistake. Successful development makes use of all resources available, and with careful planning, get them where they’re needed most.   

Written by Joshua Harris

Human Service Transportation Planning (HSTP)

A HSTP Coordinator strives to coordinate affordable, accessible transportation service for residents in their regions and beyond.      

Did you know that SCIRP&DC’s 5 county area is covered by 4 public transportation providers; South Central Transit, Central Il. Public Transit, Effingham Co. Public Transit, and Rides MTD.  If you have questions or concerns about the services that any of these providers offer OR if you have a need for transportation, please contact Terri Finn, the HSTP Coordinator at the SCIRP&DC office. 

(618) 548-4598 or 

Written By Terri Finn

SCIRPDC’s Newest Team Members

In July of 2020, SCIRPDC was awarded a $400,000 Grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) through the National CARES Act This funding has allowed the Economic Development District to hire two new employees with the central goal of conducting activities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic or respond to the economic injury to the region as a result of the pandemic. In November and December respectively, SCIRPDC hired Trish Lund and Joshua Harris as new team members. They both have had an immediate positive impact on the Economic Development District and are already seen by other SCIRPDC staff as valuable assets to our region.

In order to better introduce the new SCIRPDC team members to the five-county jurisdiction, we asked for them to prepare short bios describing their background and interests. These biographies can be read below.

Trish Lund – Economic Development Planner II

“I am very excited about my new position as one of two new Planners with SCIRPDC and hope to work collaboratively with the staff and our five-county region. Being from the Salem, Illinois area and having worked as the Executive Director at Salem Community Activities Center (SCAC) for the past five years, and M & K Insurance for the five years prior as Office Manager, I think the skills I have developed over that time will be useful in my new position at SCIRPDC. I am looking forward to expanding opportunities and services to our region. I will be assisting our member local governments with COVID-19 technical assistance.”

“In my free time I enjoy helping the community whenever possible. I am a member of the Lions Club in Salem and also enjoy traveling with family and friends anywhere and everywhere! “

Joshua Harris – Economic Development Planner II

Joshua Harris, along with his twin brother, Jacob, was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Joshua grew up in Cedar Rapids and spent most of his life there until his recent move to Salem, Illinois to join the SCIRPDC team.  He attended the University of Iowa and decided upon a major in Environmental Policy and Planning because of his love for analyzing meaningful data. He went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the same institution.

Prior to joining SCIRPDC, Joshua interned for the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission. Serving as an Economic Development Planner II is Joshua’s first full-time professional job.  He is excited to contribute to the continued development of Southern Illinois. During his off hours, Joshua enjoys watching movies, listening to audiobooks, and having discussions with friends in his free time. 

If you or your local community have any questions related to COVID-19 preparedness, prevention or response, our staff is available to answer any questions you may have.

Written by Luke Eastin

Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

Updated Dec. 18, 2020

The Immune System—The Body’s Defense Against Infection

To understand how COVID-19 vaccines work, it helps to first look at how our bodies fight illness. When germs, such as the virus that causes COVID-19, invade our bodies, they attack and multiply. This invasion, called an infection, is what causes illness. Our immune system uses several tools to fight infection. Blood contains red cells, which carry oxygen to tissues and organs, and white or immune cells, which fight infection. Different types of white blood cells fight infection in different ways:

  • Macrophages are white blood cells that swallow up and digest germs and dead or dying cells. The macrophages leave behind parts of the invading germs called antigens. The body identifies antigens as dangerous and stimulates antibodies to attack them.
  • B-lymphocytes are defensive white blood cells. They produce antibodies that attack the pieces of the virus left behind by the macrophages.
  • T-lymphocytes are another type of defensive white blood cell. They attack cells in the body that have already been infected.

The first time a person is infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, it can take several days or weeks for their body to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to get over the infection. After the infection, the person’s immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease.

The body keeps a few T-lymphocytes, called memory cells, that go into action quickly if the body encounters the same virus again. When the familiar antigens are detected, B-lymphocytes produce antibodies to attack them. Experts are still learning how long these memory cells protect a person against the virus that causes COVID-19.

How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.

Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.

Types of Vaccines

Currently, there are three main types of COVID-19 vaccines that are or soon will be undergoing large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials in the United States. Below is a description of how each type of vaccine prompts our bodies to recognize and protect us from the virus that causes COVID-19. None of these vaccines can give you COVID-19.

  • mRNA vaccines contain material from the virus that causes COVID-19 that gives our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus. After our cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine. Our bodies recognize that the protein should not be there and build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future.
  • Protein subunit vaccines include harmless pieces (proteins) of the virus that cause COVID-19 instead of the entire germ. Once vaccinated, our immune system recognizes that the proteins don’t belong in the body and begins making T-lymphocytes and antibodies. If we are ever infected in the future, memory cells will recognize and fight the virus.
  • Vector vaccines contain a weakened version of a live virus—a different virus than the one that causes COVID-19—that has genetic material from the virus that causes COVID-19 inserted in it (this is called a viral vector). Once the viral vector is inside our cells, the genetic material gives cells instructions to make a protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. Using these instructions, our cells make copies of the protein. This prompts our bodies to build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus if we are infected in the future.

Most COVID-19 Vaccines Require More Than One Shot

All but one of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States use two shots. The first shot starts building protection. A second shot a few weeks later is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer. One vaccine in Phase 3 clinical trials only needs one shot.

The Bottom Line

Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.  Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for some people, it can cause severe illness or death.

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.

Last Updated Dec. 18, 2020

Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases

Submitted by Trish Lund