Reflecting on 2022 With Economic Development Director Patrick McKeehan
I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the past year and share my thoughts on O’Fallon’s vibrant economy and economic future.
2022 has been the culmination of three very challenging and, at times exhausting…but ultimately productive years for the City of O’Fallon. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, our nation’s economy has experienced a wild rollercoaster ride. All the positives from almost a decade of strong economic growth and low employment quickly vanished within a few weeks of a worldwide shutdown. By all accounts, O’Fallon should have been in the same boat.
The SelectOFALLON team prepared for the potential store closures, employee layoffs, and company bankruptcies. Thankfully, O’Fallon’s economic resilience stood strong against those challenges and our worries didn’t come to fruition here. Much to our surprise, O’Fallon had a relatively solid year in 2020. Very few stores closed permanently, there were no mass layoffs, and our major employers quickly adjusted to social distancing rules, supply chain disruptions, and employees working from home. The City of O’Fallon ended the year with sales tax revenues exceeding projections, holding employment levels steady, and reaping the economic benefits of many residents who stopped commuting to work and spent more time (and money) locally.
2021 built upon that strength and produced what would be considered one of our most successful years. The SelectOFALLON team worked on six Chapter 100 projects that leveraged more than $350 million in new capital investment and hundreds of new jobs. The team helped with the launch of five new medical marijuana dispensaries along with dozens of small businesses. A semi-annual survey of retail centers found that more retail/commercial spaces were newly occupied in 2021 than abandoned. It was an amazing year that kept the SelectOFALLON team on the run all year long.
This brings us to 2022. It has been a different kind of year with fresh concerns about inflation, higher interest rates, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and the consequences of COVID-19. Through it all, O’Fallon’s economy has remained robust. According to CoStar, our building occupancy has not dipped below 95% in the retail/commercial and industrial real estate sectors. The office real estate sector took a hit early in the pandemic but has remained steady at 92% this year. This is only one percentage point below O’Fallon’s 2019 pre-pandemic average.
The SelectOFALLON team’s project successes are just as plentiful if not different than 2021. That year was dominated by big expansion projects for local manufacturers. This year the growth in O’Fallon’s food and beverage sector is the most prevalent with the openings of Panda Express, a second Chick-fil-A, two Scooter’s Coffee locations, Total Wine & More, PJ’s Coffee, and soon-to-open 7 Brew. SSM announced a new 66,000 sq. ft. outpatient center at the Streets of Caledonia and the nearby Missouri Rush Sports Park will open a new family entertainment center featuring an electric go-kart track, four-story slide, carousal, and drive-in restaurant.
Supporting this growth are more than 300 single-family homes under construction across O’Fallon with more planned for the next five years.
It’s very clear that O’Fallon remains one of the most economically vibrant, business-attractive, family-friendly cities in the Midwest. My team and I will continue to do our best to sustain O’Fallon’s three-decade-long history of economic success and we stand ready to assist businesses of all sizes looking to join us. Check us out at www.SelectOFALLON.com.