Category: News

Forecast Breakfast: Economic outlook remains bright in Edwardsville

Kristen and Matt Pfund accepted the 2017 Business of the Year Award for their business Pfund Construction at Edwardsville’s recent Business Forecast Breakfast

Published 9:41 am, Thursday, February 8, 2018

EDWARDSVILLE – Pfund Construction was awarded the 2017 Business of the Year Award at Tuesday’s 2018 Business Forecast Breakfast.

Organized by Economic/Community Development Director Walt Williams, the event took place at the Leclaire Room at Lewis and Clark’s N.O. Nelson Campus. A total of 270 local business owners, citizens and city staff were present at the event.

Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton took to the podium and said the award recipients have played a significant role in the community thus far.

“To be considered for the Business of the Year Award, a business must set standards for excellence and innovation with its business practices and community involvement. Our award recipient…truly exemplifies the meaning of Edwardsville’s downtown and its community as a place where one can live, learn, work and play,” Patton said.

Pfund Construction, owned and operated by Matt and Kristen Pfund, took on projects such as the renovation of the Metcalf Building, turning it into six loft apartments and four retail spaces and renovating the former Gaiser Building with a second floor apartment, among other projects.

Kristen serves on the board of directors for the Edwardsville Community Foundation, takes part in the Main Street Community Center and is a member of the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Junior Service Club. Matt is a member of TheBANK of Edwardsville’s Board of Directors, is on the board of the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Habitat for Humanity, is a member of the SIUE Construction Advisory Board and is on the Madison County Plan Commission.

Patton said the company has set a trend in downtown living and has played a part of modernizing the city of Edwardsville.

“Thank you for taking the risks and being trendsetters and contributing to downtown Edwardsville’s success as a compelling urban center in southwest Illinois,” Patton said.

Dr. Tim Sullivan, a professor in the Department of Economics and Finance at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, also took to the podium to predict 2018’s economic forecast.

Although last year’s forecast was uncertain, Sullivan said this year’s forecast is fairly optimistic.

“Heading into 2017, there was a lot of understandable concern,” Sullivan said. “(This year) I have good news and bad news. As of now, there’s nothing that I see in the fundamentals in the economy that indicate a recession is near.”

Sullivan’s model predicts a 2.5 percent of economic growth for the U.S.’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – a measure of the nation’s total economic activity. He also predicts a 1.7 percent growth for the state of Illinois in 2018 and a 1.6 percent growth for Madison County. The 2018 forecast averages are 1.8 percent for the U.S. GDP, 0.6 percent for Illinois and 0.8 percent for Madison County.

Although Sullivan’s prediction is slightly higher than the averages, he said the downside to his prediction is that its outreach can’t speak for the later months of the year – October, November, December.

“I see nothing in the data that would indicate any type of downturn during the first three quarters of this year,” Sullivan said. “Probably well into the fall, then December, November, the crystal ball just doesn’t work that far.”

NAI DESCO Principal Peter Sheahan was the last featured speaker who took to the podium, and spoke of current changes regarding local retailers.

With some stores closing, local malls closing are looking for new tenants, Sheahan said online shopping greatly impacted the world of retail both last year and this year.

“Retail has changed dramatically by online shopping,” Sheahan said. “This online shopping has grown in significant rates. A 14 percent increase from 2017 – it went up. So what we’ve seen is a change and how that’s affected retail is we’ve seen a bunch of stores closing.”

Stores like Sears, Gander Mountain, Macy’s, Gordmans, Kmart, etc., he said.

Sheahan said Edwardsville does have several attributes that appeal to retailers, however, it also has its challenges.

“When you have a combination of expensive ground and expensive construction costs, it’s a challenge to get retailers to come here,” he said.

However, Sheahan said despite the costs, Edwardsville has continued to be one of the most stable markets in the St. Louis region.

With low crime rates, residential and job growths, the SIUE campus, highway access, highly-rated schools, and progressive government, Sheahan said he anticipates retail growth to continue in the Edwardsville area as the year progresses.

The forecast breakfast was sponsored by the BarberMurphy Group, the City of Edwardsville, Contegra Construction and Holland Construction Services.

For more information about local businesses or economic development, contact Walt Williams at 618-692-7533 or visit the city’s website at

Sisters-in-law to open Clean Eatz, franchise of former Edwardsville couple

Sara Sanderson in front of Clean Eatz’ menu board. The franchise healthy-eating restaurant is set to open this month  


EDWARDSVILLE — A new clean eating option is set to open soon.

Clean Eatz, at 6724 Old Troy Road in Edwardsville, is set to open this month.

“I want everything to be perfect. I want everything to be amazing,” said co-owner Sara Sanderson.

She, along with her sister-in-law and co-owner, Cindy Sanderson, is preparing for the opening.

Former Edwardsville residents Don and Evonne Varady started the franchise restaurant. The couple previously owned and operated the Lo-Cal Café for several years in Edwardsville but when they moved to the East Coast, they started Clean Eatz. The Edwardsville location will be the franchise’s 50th.

“We’ve brought it back full circle,” Sara Sanderson said. “I grew up with Don in Holiday Shores. I watched Don and Evonne grow the brand. It’s been truly impressive. I reached out to Don about two years ago about opening a restaurant here.”

Sanderson said the idea of opening the restaurant came after she decided to live a healthier lifestyle. She had a career in sales for 12 years, but worked in restaurants while attending Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

So, the Sanderson women decided to open the restaurant.

“We’re making it a family business. Cindy is keeping her full-time job for now, but she’ll be here nights and weekends,” Sanderson explained.

The sisters-in-law visited six other Clean Eatz’ locations, including the franchise’s first, in Wilmington, North Carolina, before starting work on the Edwardsville location.

Sara Sanderson said that people familiar with the Lo-Cal Café should like Clean Eatz.

“It’s about clean eating with natural fruits, vegetables and proteins, along with healthy fats and whole grains,” she said. “We’re backing away from refined grains, sugar, sodium and unhealthy fats.”

The restaurant will offer dine-in and carry-out options. Dine-in customers will order at the counter and servers will bring the food out to their table.

“Almost all our entrees come with a side and drink,” Sanderson said.

Drinks will include fruited water, unsweetened tea, and non-aspartame Crystal Light.

Clean Eatz also will offer grab-and-go meals.

“These are frozen, ready–made meals,” Sanderson explained. “We’ll also have family meals with four servings for $17.99.”

One thing that makes Clean Eatz different from other restaurants will be the weekly meal plans offered by the restaurant.

Customers will receive an email message with the choices for the week ahead on Thursday. They can sign up for meals by Sunday night, and pick them up on Monday. There is discounted pricing for multiple meals, and customized meals will be available.

“Each meal feeds one person. You can sign up for as many as you want,” Sanderson said. “I think it’s a service that people are looking for.”

Sanderson said the restaurant is for those who want to “lose, gain or maintain weight.” They also will offer vegan and glucose-free options.

“You can tell us what you want to do and how you want to eat,” she said. “For example, if you’re doing Whole 30 or a paleo plan, or some other plan, we can help you.”

The menu has bison and turkey burgers. There also will be salmon, shrimp and shredded beef. Each items’ calorie content is listed on the menu board and further nutrition information is available.

The restaurant will seat 46 for inside dining and employ up to 12 people.

“It’s hard to guess if dine-in or carry-out will do better,” Sanderson said.

She is eager to open, she noted.

“We’ve gotten a lot of love on social media and also by people just stopping by to see what we’re doing.”

Sour Mash Boutique opens in Downtown Edwardsville, destination for reLoved line

Sour Mash Boutique owner Kenneathia Williams, of Edwardsville, had the opportunity to gift one of her favorite music artists, Drake White, with a cuff at a recent concert in Springfield, Illinois,


Published 5:57 pm, Friday, February 16, 2018

EDWARDSVILLE — Kenneathia Williams wants to bring a little bit of Nashville to town with her new store Sour Mash Boutique.

The store, at 116 N. Main St. in historic Downtown Edwardsville, opened on Valentine’s Day, appropriate since Sour Mash Boutique sells merchandise from Williams’ reLoved Leather accessory line. Williams will hold the store’s grand opening sometime in April.

“reLoved Leather is the reason for Sour Mash,” said Williams, who started reLoved Leather six years ago when she moved to Edwardsville. “I started making jewelry after I moved. I made an old belt into a bracelet.”

After she made the bracelet, several people asked where she bought it, and then asked if she could make one for them. She uses old belts and vintage jewelry for her reLoved Leather pieces. “About 75 percent of reLoved Leather is custom. People want me to use Dad or Grandpa’s belt and make some bracelets.”

Williams decided on the name Sour Mash after a friend suggested it.

“Sour mash is a mix of old and new,” she explained. “I put new and old together, to make stuff no one else has.”

Sour Mash Boutique also sells its own apparel brand and others, such as Double D Ranchwear, boots and merchandise from regional artisans. Williams also built a spot for musicians to perform, such as Lexy Schlemer, who took the new stage Feb. 14 during the store’s opening. Currently, Williams is booking artists for the April grand-opening event.

Working with Williams is Emily Whitaker and Cindy McCalla. McCalla oversees the beauty bar, which offers make-up and hair styling.

“We want women to look good and feel good,” Williams said. “She’s not cutting hair, just styling. She can do hair and make-up for special occasions.”

Williams formerly worked as a graphic designer in marketing and public relations before she moved to Edwardsville.

“I’ve been collecting vintage jewelry for a long time, since I was nine years old,” she said. “My dad was an antique collector. We were ‘pickers’ before people talked about pickers.”

Her father had a fifth-grade education, she said, but he knew how to work and make money.

“He would buy an old, broken tractor, tear it apart, fix it, put it back together, and sell it for five times what he paid,” she said. “His work ethic was instilled in me.”

Now, reLoved Leather is sold in more than 25 boutiques across the United States.

“It was time to have my own store and space,” Williams said. “I had been designing apparel and shirts in the corporate world, so I decided to do them here.”

Sour Mash Boutique’s apparel designs are created and printed in Edwardsville.

“We also have Double D Ranchwear out of Texas, and we’re the first Illinois store to sell it. We’ll have everything from T-shirts to $500 boots. We’ll also have items from artists local to me.”

Williams explained that since she grew up in the Little Rock, Arkansas, area and was there before moving to Edwardsville, local to her means both Illinois and her former home state.

“We’ll have clothes from head to toe,” she said. “I’ll get new things weekly. I don’t want everyone in Edwardsville to dress the same.”

ReLoved Leather really took off since Williams started it, especially after several celebrities and country singers discovered the hand-crafted jewelry and accessory line. Television actor William Shockley, who appeared in “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and now is a producer, was one of the first people to wear reLoved Leather. Singer Drake White’s agent, who is from St. Louis, bought reLoved Leather for White.

“Erica Sunshine Lee reached out to me three years ago, on Instagram, and asked for a statement piece for a video she was shooting,” Williams recalled. “It’s now in 17 music videos of all genres.”

Williams also designed jewelry to go with some gowns worn to the Country Music Association (CMA) awards.

“I have ‘everyday’ wear to more elegant and classy things,” she said.

She also matched several custom cuffs with boots for customers.

“I was in the Golden Globes gifting lounge and swag bag,” Williams noted. “It was an honor because there were only 14 designers there.”

She still is using old belts and jewelry.

“One of my favorite things to do is treasure hunt,” she said.

Visit, follow on Twitter @sourmashboutique and Facebook or call 6I8-975-7997 for more information. Visit @relovedleather for a peak at Williams’ designs.

Theatre View Plaza PUD moves forward


Updated 12:36 pm, Thursday, February 1, 2018

EDWARDSVILLE – A new development may be coming to Plum Street, near First to the Finish.

As discussed at Tuesday’s Public Services Committee meeting, Public Works recommended the approval of the Theatre View Commercial Plaza Subdivision Planned Unit Development. If approved, the site will consist of three lots that will contain offices and multi-tenant retail buildings with a minimum of 216 parking spaces surrounding the buildings.

Director of Public Works Eric Williams addressed committee members and said the developers of the site are also making accommodations for bicyclists in the community.

“The project has been through Plan Commission, going through their concept review as well as their formal hearing process. As part of that, some of the items that have been incorporated – they’ve included pedestrian accommodations, pedestrian bike accommodations to improve on pedestrian circulation throughout the site,” Williams said. “There’s crosswalks and actual bike trail connections. They’re providing for some bike parking along the storefront, especially the retail center that’s in the northwest corner.”

The development will also have a connection to the Goshen trail, similar to that of First to the Finish.

The PUD as a whole consists of approximately 5.67 acres and is located west of Plum Street and north of Center Grove Road. All three lots in the PUD will include two retail buildings, one building either office or retail and one more building which use has yet to be determined, for a total of four buildings. One drive-thru will be permitted on the site as well.

 The developers of the project are Contegra Construction and Williams said a traffic impact study has been submitted for review, alongside the PUD proposal.

“They have submitted a traffic impact study. We’ve been through a couple of iterations with that. We’re reviewing it, the (IL) Department of Transportation is currently reviewing it. IDOT has the ultimate jurisdiction to the entrance of 159 and Plum Street,” Williams said.

Access to the site will include two entrances from Plum Street and one from Center Grove Road.

Both Land Use and Plan Commission are on board with the PUD’s approval and alderwoman Janet Stack said she too is excited for the new development.

As discussion came to a close, aldermen Jack Burns, Stack and Craig Louer were in favor of its approval. The motion was approved unanimously and will be reviewed again at Thursday’s Administrative and Community Services meeting.

For more information about the development plan, visit the city’s website at


Edwardsville City Council approves resolution for Whispering Heights development

by Steven Spencer