O’Fallon IL experiencing economic growth despite COVID

Officials say O’Fallon has rebounded from the pre-vaccine pandemic times to not only be surviving but thriving in projected business growth.

Economic development initiatives put in place several years ago have come to fruition — as indicated by new construction, rehabbing of old buildings and recently approved projects in every corner of the city.

“Development in O’Fallon came out of the pandemic at full speed. We have surpassed pre-pandemic business activity and continue to be extremely excited for the future of O’Fallon,” said Community Development Director Justin Randall.

While the past two years have been a challenge for businesses — with delays, supply chain issues, and navigating COVID-19 — Randall said they are optimistic about moving forward, especially with the 2040 Master Plan to guide them.

A strategy to attract more businesses was put into play in 2018 as the city sharpened its focus, and an updated campaign to evolve with the market was launched a few months ago in O’Fallon. They plan on building more relationships and investing in the future of growth.

Some of the re-targeted ads state: “A vibrant city with a small-town feel” and “Find a sense of community like no other.”

City Administrator Walter Denton and Assistant City Administrator Grant Litteken recently presented an economic development overview to a council committee on its current efforts.

Previously, a campaign designed to make O’Fallon an attractive community to work, live in, visit, or play improved its voice and image. Taglines “Build It Here” and “You Have Dreams, We’ll Help You Build It” appeared.

The marketing campaign designed by Atomic Dust — a St. Louis branding and marketing agency — used an economic development website, social media, media placements and marketing studies.

“We wanted to change the narrative of O’Fallon as a destination and a place to be, and to stimulate economic development,” Denton said.

“Instead of a cookie-cutter, suburban backdrop, we wanted to make O’Fallon look like a highly desirable, attractive community that’s growing,” Litteken said.

Beginning in 2016, Destination: O’Fallon became one of the council’s key priorities, and creating partnerships were goals.

The newly launched ad campaigns took the updated O’Fallon brand and put it into practice, Litteken said.

In late February 2022, they updated “Build Your Life” and “Build Your Business” landing pages on the economic development website.

The landing page updates further optimized the pages for user experience, the delivery of necessary information, organic search results, and contact collection

Litteken said they are promoting O’Fallon to other similar communities across the St. Louis region to educate families about opportunities here.

“We are also running campaigns promoting the economic benefits of starting or moving a business to O’Fallon across the St. Louis DMA (direct marketing area),” he said.

“Thus far, campaigns are resonating very well with our selected audiences, even better than anticipated,” Denton said.

ofallon city hall 1.jpg
Officials say O’Fallon has rebounded from the pre-vaccine pandemic times to not only be surviving but thriving in projected business growth. Economic development initiatives put in place several years ago have come to fruition — as indicated by new construction, rehabbing of old buildings and recently approved projects in every corner of the city. BND file photo

Overall website traffic is up

“We are already starting to recognize increases in direct, organic, and social traffic to the website, meaning people are being exposed to ads and are coming back to the website from other various sources,” Denton said.

The administrators said this year’s goals are to build relationships with development partners, St. Clair Auto Mall, Mid America Commerce Center, Southview Plaza, downtown property owners and small business owners.

They cited the following projects:

The Shops at Richland Creek

This complex borders Greenmount Road, Frank Scott Parkway and Central Park Drive, and features several fast-casual restaurants, including Chick Salad Chick, Taco Bell, Smoothie King, Wing Stop, Popeye’s, Burger King, Five Guys Burgers + Fries and Wasabi.

Businesses that are part of the complex include Pacific Dental Services, AQ Nail Salon, No Leash Needed, Discount Tire, Tidal Wave car wash, and more.

Dogwood Social

The old Gold’s Gym property will become an entertainment complex for both families with young children and an adult attraction.

The Dogwood Social House will feature such indoor games as miniature golf, axe throwing, cornhole, video games, table games (air hockey, billiards, foosball, and shuffleboard), simulator games, arcade games, and a mini-bowling alley. It will have a restaurant and bar, and those plans will take up 36,825 square feet while the remaining 3,670 square feet will be a package liquor store with a separate entrance.

This will be the first location in Illinois and the fourth such location overall.

“We are excited about the addition of Dogwood Social to the City of O’Fallon. We have long thought an entertainment venue of this nature would be a great fit for our residents and guests visiting our city for sporting events at the O’Fallon Family Sports Park,” Randall said.

Hi-Pointe Center

The Hi-Pointe Drive-In has opened. It is the first Illinois and the fourth location for the burger and sandwich restaurant, which is part of the Sugarfire Smokehouse company restaurants. Sugarfire 64 opened in O’Fallon in 2018.

“We are thrilled to have the newest location of Hi-Pointe in O’Fallon. The fact Sugarfire and Hi-Pointe brands have both located in O’Fallon continues to bolster O’Fallon’s position as a premier location to develop in the St. Louis market and will hopefully continue to drive St. Louis developers to our city,” Randall said.

Space for retail and another bar/restaurant is available on the US 50 location.

Edley’s BBQ and the Cambridge Boulevard Center

A new Edley’s Bar-B-Que restaurant is being built on the old lumber yard property on US 50. Based in Nashville, one is in Glen Carbon and O’Fallon will be its second metro-east location. A new Scooter’s Coffee will be located between the IHOP restaurant and MotoMart on US 50. It is strictly a drive-thru operation.

Others in the report included Aberdeen Village; townhouses near the McKendree Rec Plex; Revela at O’Fallon; a senior living center on Seven Hills Road; the rehabbed labor hall that will be turned into a fine dining destination at 101 S. Cherry; and the Central Park mixed-use development that will be on 27 acres and include residential, retail and a hotel.

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