July 13, 2007

Man-Tra-Con to assist with Connect SI initiative

by Christi Mathis


CARBONDALE, Ill. – Connect SI, a 20-county community and economic development initiative based at Southern Illinois University, is about to enter a new and important phase.

Rex Duncan, executive director of Connect SI, said Man-Tra-Con (Management-Training-Consulting Corp.,) of Marion will assume primary management and provide human services and cohesive support as Connect SI continues to spur regional development through growth leveraged by widely available and affordable broadband Internet access.


Media Advisory

A news conference is set for 2 p.m., Monday, July 16, at the Man-Tra-Con office in Marion's Illinois Centre Mall to share details of the Connect SI progress and provide announcements about increased broadband connectivity in Southern Illinois. Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to attend.


"Connect SI is off to a great start and I'm so pleased that the University has been a part of what I believe to be one of the best economic and community development initiatives that I've seen in my years of public service," said SIU President Glenn Poshard, who chairs Connect SI's advisory committee. "As the initiative has grown, so has the need for additional support and that's why this transition is important. I know that Kathy Lively and her staff at Man-Tra-Con will continue the good work that has already begun."

Duncan said Connect SI remains a University-based initiative, but by contracting with Man-Tra-Con, the project will gain the day-to-day support of the regionally respected and capable staff of the Marion agency. Man-Tra-Con Director Kathy Lively and other staff will provide an increased amount of support to the volunteers who help drive Connect SI, Duncan said.

"This is really an exciting development," Duncan said. "It's good for the project and good for the region. The University is still going to be a driving force and because of the quality and specialized experience of the Man-Tra-Con staff, the collaborative momentum of Connect SI will continue to build. Connect SI has grown to the point where the kind of support Man-Tra-Con can bring only adds to the potential of the initiative to reinvigorate the regional economy. With the University's continued support and the talented Man-Tra-Con staff, only good things are sure to occur."

Lively said the Southern Illinois Workforce Investment Board and Man-Tra-Con are excited about increasing their involvement in further invigorating the regional economy through Connect SI. She said the volunteers throughout the 20-county region bring a wealth of experience to the project that offers such potential for regional growth.

Connect SI is spurring the growth of knowledge-based employment opportunities and enterprises throughout Southern Illinois through access to broadband Internet technology. Health care is the leading industry in the movement and the ultimate goal is creating a prosperous, sustained local economy that can compete in the global market.

The Connect SI Leadership Committee endorsed the transition at its June 18 meeting. An Executive Committee composed of private sector, network providers, educators and health care representatives was formed to provide additional leadership as the project evolves into the implementation phase.

Duncan will remain actively involved in the initiative through the University. The assistance of Man-Tra-Con, along with continued financial and resource support from the University, will propel Connect SI faster toward its goals, Duncan said.

For more information about Connect SI, call Duncan at 618/536-3460 or e-mail rduncan@siu.edu or contact Lively at 618/998-0970 or kathylively@mantracon.org.