Monroe County as viewed from regional perspective - Republic-Times | News

Monroe County as viewed from regional perspective

By on October 25, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Pictured is a visual representation of the number of people who travel into and out of Monroe County for work. The visual aide shows 4,338 people commuting into the county for work, 13,123 people who live in the county but commute to outside of the county for work, and 4,316 people who live and work in the county.

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce heard from a regional chamber representative on economics and demographics in Monroe County during Thursday’s monthly lunch meeting at The Falls.

St. Louis Regional Chamber Director of Economic Research and Analysis Ruth Sergenian showed the Columbia Chamber different data, such as a 5 percent poverty level in the county, the county’s 3.6 percent unemployment rate, overall population and more.

As many residents know, the county of 34,000 people is not as much a work destination as a place of residence. Sergenian confirmed this suspicion with an inflow/outflow analysis. According to Sergenian, this analysis comes from the most recent U.S. Census data available — which in this case is 2015 data.

The inflow/outflow analysis shows only 4,338 workers commuting from other areas for employment in the county. Meanwhile, only 4,316 residents remain in Monroe County for work while 13,123 commute out of the county to work in other areas.

Monroe County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Edie Koch said seeing that people from the St. Louis region come into the county to work can help attract new business.

“It’s not a large county so you have to put together data that shows the county draws employment from a larger area to make the case for new business coming in,” she said.

Sergenian broke this down further to show where the 8,654 people employed in the county work. For those working in the hospitality industry, for example — mainly food service — the majority of jobs are in Columbia and Waterloo. Agriculture is a bit more spread out.

Though she is continuing to read through Sergenian’s report, Koch said most of the information seemed familiar. Koch also said she enjoys working with the St. Louis Regional Chamber for research needs.

“I’ve used that department before and they’ve always been very responsive. And there’s a lot more data than that to show,” she said. “She showed what she thought people wanted to see.”

In addition to Sergenian’s presentation, St. Louis Regional Chamber Senior Advisor on Regional Development Rich Conner shared about the organization’s goals for the region. He said one such goal is for the St. Louis region to be one of the top 10 regions in the country by 2025.

In order to do this, Conner said the region needs to leverage existing strengths, including growing the financial service and health industries. He also said the region can build success through such means as educational attainment and talent attraction.

“If we can be more welcoming, we can attract new talent and keep our existing talent here,” he said. 

The region includes 15 counties between Missouri and southern Illinois and is the 20th largest metro region in the country. Additionally, the St. Louis Regional Chamber is the largest private economic development council in the region with efforts designed to support areas such as Monroe County.

Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Susy Schweigert also told members during the meeting that a Columbia Chamber Facebook page is active. To visit the page, go to

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years.