Jefferson County is home to many annual events and festivals, interactive historic landmarks, outdoor recreation adventures and activities for visitors and locals alike. Whether you’re enjoying street festivals in downtown Mt. Vernon, hiking, biking or horseback riding trails in Rend Lake’s Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park or making a splash in Mt. Vernon’s Aquatic Zoo waterpark – this county is more than an interstate intersection, it’s the original heart of Southern Illinois. With rich history in the beginnings of the State of Illinois, our community has transformed over the centuries and is now a thriving hub for many facets of life from our roots in manufacturing to an ever-growing arts culture with one common thread throughout our history – creative innovation.
Mt. Vernon Visitors Center
Learn more about the area at the Mt. Vernon Convention and Visitors Bureau, 200 Potomac Blvd. in Mt. Vernon, just west of the I-57/I64 exit 95. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Inside the Visitors Center is a unique gift shop called Made in Mt. Vernon featuring unique gifts made by local artists. For more information or to request a visitor’s guide, call (618) 242-3151 or
Throughout Jefferson County, recreation is ample. The Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park is a mecca for outdoor recreation enthusiasts with water sports, horseback riding, picnicking, hiking, bird watching, wildlife observation and photography. The park also has fishing, boating and skiing Overlooking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 19,000-acre Rend Lake Reservoir, Wayne Fitgerrell State Park and Rend Lake is touted as Southern Illinois’ largest outdoor playground.
Jaycee Lake, on the outskirts of Mt. Vernon, is a beautiful place to relax with boating, fishing and breathtaking scenery. Bicycle trails can be found throughout Mt. Vernon. Hop on anywhere to enjoy the ride, but we suggest starting near Cedarhurst Center for the Arts or Veterans Park. If you’d like a different type of adventure, check out R & J Lazer Tag just off Illinois Highway 15 in Woodlawn, offering private parties and open play. Memories are sure to be made in the Southern Illinois woods playing laser tag with your friends or family. Nu Bowl Lanes in Mt. Vernon offers league play for all ages, open bowling and numerous special events. An arcade, lounge with gaming and restaurant round out the requirements to make this a fun outing for the whole family.
The Mt. Vernon Parks and Recreation Department oversees numerous parks. Lincoln Park offers a four-field complex for baseball and softball events as well as a soccer field. Veteran’s Park, situated in the heart of Mt. Vernon, is more than your average park with a memorial to veterans from all U.S. conflicts at the park entrance. The park also offers basketball courts, six lighted tennis courts, playgrounds, horseshoe and washer pits, walking paths, picnic facilities, community gardens and a community building available to rent for events and meetings. For more information,
call (618) 242-6890.
Archway RV Park is a family-owned and -operated campground with full hookup pull-through sites and back-in sites for the big RVs, plus some tent sites for the little campers. The park boasts clean showers and a laundromat along with a playground, fishing pond and dump station on-site.
For the golf enthusiast, Green Hills Golf Club in Mt. Vernon is widely considered to be one of the finest golf facilities in southern Illinois. Offering a beautiful and challenging layout combined with a friendly country club atmosphere, the course has an abundance of trees, natural creeks and large lakes to create unique playing conditions. Also in Mt. Vernon, Indian Hills Golf Club offers a picturesque course for 18 holes as well. Both clubs are open to the public and have memberships available.
The Aquatic Zoo is an outdoor water park on South 34th Street in Lincoln Park. It includes two slides with a monkey-themed water dumping bucket, zebra, giraffe and animal sound and light themed geysers, a lazy river, zero-depth entry leisure pool, an enclosed body flume slide and an enclosed tube slide. The park also features a 25-meter, six-lane lap pool with two diving boards in a separate section from the slides and lazy river and splash pad. For pricing, season passes or information, call (618) 242-6890 or visit www.enjoymtvernon.org.
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies and to the museum-going public. The United States has an estimated 35,000 museums and only a little over 1000 are currently accredited.
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, an activity of the John R. and Eleanor R. Mitchell Foundation, is a private, nonprofit arts organization established in 1973. The museum is best known for its significant collection of late 19th and early 20th century American paintings, exhibitions featuring regional and international artists, a 90-acre sculpture park featuring over 60 works of art, extensive art education opportunities both on campus and in regional schools and an annual Art & Craft Fair held each September since 1977. They also host art classes and programs; live performances; and Thursday Night Live, a summer program with great food, entertainment and activities. The Cedarhurst campus is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, with extended hours until 8 p.m. Thursdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. For more information, visit www.cedarhurst.org or call (618) 242-1236.
On North 27th Street, the Jefferson County Historical Village is picturesque with two log cabins, the first log jail in the county, a one-room school, a medical building, newspaper and print shop, blacksmith shop, log church, general store, gift shop, a nature trail, history museum and Interpretive Center. For more information, call (618) 246-0033.
The Jefferson County Hall of Honor, Col. R.D. White Veterans Museum and Jefferson County Heroes Memorial are permanent memorials dedicated to area veterans on display inside the Koziara Terminal and outside at Mt. Vernon Outland Airport. The Hall of Honor is an ongoing, collaborative effort that complements other area veteran’s memorials; each veteran’s service history is preserved for future generations to see. “Just like the service of each veteran, no two tributes are identical. Each one has a different story to tell,” said Chris Collins, airport director. The Veterans Museum features authentic vintage uniforms, weapons, munitions, K-rations, era newspapers, magazines and letters from home from the Civil War to current conflicts. The Jefferson County Heroes Memorial honors the local family members, friend and neighbors who sacrificed their tomorrows for our todays.
Hall hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and the museum is open every Wednesday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment. Call (618) 242-7016 for more information.
Festivals & Events in the Village of Bluford
- Village Memorial Day Service at noon at the Village Hall Memorial
- Annual village-wide rummage sale in the summer
- Annual Bluford Ruritan Ice Cream Social & Car Show – July
- Marlow’s Pumpkin Patch open throughout October
- Annual Christmas Parade in December
- Ruritan Chili Supper & Auction in December
Known as the “Festival Arts City,” there is always something going on in Mt. Vernon. From live musical entertainment to gallery openings, Mt. Vernon is the place for the artist in all of us. Check out our calendar on our website: www.enjoymtvernon.com for complete calendar listings, which are sortable by date or type of event.
Some highlights each year include:
Midwestern Herb & Garden Show features more than 50 exhibitors with fresh herbs, dried flower arrangements, books, woodcarving, garden art and more. Free admission includes complimentary classes and seminars. Call (618) 242-3151 for more information.
Southern Illinois Steel Guitar Show features some of the best steel guitar players in the world as well as amateur players. For more information, call (618) 218-2517.
Market Days are Mt. Vernon’s very own flea market and vendor fair. Market Days are held at Veteran’s Park, 800 S. 27th St., on the first Saturday of the month from May to September. At Market Days, a variety of vendors sell diverse items such as antiques, collectibles, handmade items, plants, jewelry, blacksmith, flea market finds, produce, baked goods and kettle corn. Admission is free and kids activities are provided. Visit, shop and enjoy the fun atmosphere at Mt. Vernon’s Market Days. For more information, call (618) 242-3151.
PawFest, a day of fun for pets and their owners, returns to Veteran’s Park on the first Sunday in June from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Outdoor and indoor vendor booths will feature special pet items and products, crafts, food, games and more. The event also includes demonstrations and exhibits; laser tag; activities for pets, owners and children; and a pet contest with categories for floppiest ears, loudest bark and best trick. A fun pet runway show will showcase several doggies up for adoption from Jefferson County Animal Control. For more information or to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (618) 242-3151.
The inaugural Mt. Vernon Homebrewers Festival is the newest addition to the Mt. Vernon Festivals Inc. lineup, showcasing the work of area home beer brewers. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste the work of local and regional home beer makers. The event includes food vendors and live music. For more information, contact email@example.com or find mtvernonhomebrewfest on social media.
July 4 Salute to Freedom is always held on Independence Day at the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport. This free event features food vendors, entertainment, kid zone, fireworks and more.
The AirVenture Cup Race comes to Mt. Vernon every other year, and returns in 2019. Cheer on the participants in this cross-country air race with a variety of air classes. Visit www.airventurecuprace.com or call (618) 242-7016 for more information.
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts is the place to be for the 43rd Annual Cedarhurst Arts & Craft Fair. After a special preview party on Friday night, the fair is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. More than 100 exhibitors from throughout the country will be on hand to demonstrate and sell crafts. Each year crafters bring jewelry, metal work, pottery and more for collectors to enjoy and purchase. Check out the beer tent for live entertainment, and a huge children’s area is tons of fun for your littles. Admission $5 for adults, and free for children under 12. Hotel packages are available for this event. Call (618) 242-1236 for more information.
Midwest Light Sport Aircraft Expo at the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport was created to sell light sport aircraft, ancillary equipment and related services, but everyone enjoys visiting and learning about the aircraft technology. For more information, call (618) 242-7016.
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts hosts its annual Ironclad Art: The Motorcycle show in September. The exhibit showcases motorcycles as sculpture and objects of self-expression featuring more than 100 bikes from all makes, models and generations. For more information, call (618) 242-1236.
Fall Fest fills the streets of downtown Mt. Vernon. Enjoy live music, a free kids zone, the DMDC Cruise In & Car Show, vendors marketplace, an amazing food court, a 100+ entry parade, 5K race and more. For more information, call (618) 242-3151.
The Heritage Festival at the Jefferson County Historical Village is a interactive take on history. See how a blacksmith works, grind some corn, listen to folk music and enjoy the sights. Free admission. For more information, call (618) 246-0033.
The Annual Downtown Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting on Main Street in Mt. Vernon is held the first Saturday in December. Festivities kick off at 5 p.m. with the Parade from 7th Street to 10th Street, around the square and back down Broadway. The big tree on the courthouse grounds at 9th and Main will feature singing, games and more for all ages. Don’t forget to visit Santa’s Cottage by the Court House while you are here. For more information, call (618) 242-3151.
Visit www.enjoymtvernon.com for a complete listing of festivals and events in Mt. Vernon where we are living Creativity: Redefined! through our passions in life!
History of Mt Vernon, Illinois – A Brief History
Celebrating our 200th birthday, 2019 is Mt. Vernon and Jefferson County’s Bicentennial. The city and county were both established in 1819. Jefferson County was founded on March 26, 1819, and named after Thomas Jefferson. Following the county, Mt. Vernon became an official city on June 7, 1819. The city was originally named Mount Pleasant but was later changed to Mt. Vernon to pay tribute to George Washington and his home in Mt. Vernon, Virginia.
Major events in Mt. Vernon in 2019, including the Salute to Freedom celebration, Fall Festival and Jefferson County Historical Village events, will focus on celebrating the bicentennial. To document the city and county’s 200th birthday, those on social media are asked to use the hashtag, #MTVIL200 in their posts. Special Bicentennial T-shirts, in assorted colors, are available to purchase for $10 each at the Jefferson County Historical Village and the Mt. Vernon Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.
- Mt. Vernon’s founder, Zadok Casey, was elected to the state senate in 1822 and was elected lieutenant governor in 1833. He served in the U.S. Congress between 1833 and 1843.
- On Feb. 19, 1888, an F-4 tornado tore through Mt. Vernon and paved a 64-mile path across southern Illinois, killing roughly 30. More than 300 homes and 50 businesses in Mt. Vernon were damaged or destroyed leaving over 1,000 homeless. The Jefferson County Courthouse was completely destroyed.
- The 1888 cyclone is still the fourth deadliest tornado in Illinois. Within five years, Mt. Vernon doubled in population and tripled the number of businesses in town.
- Following the 1888 tornado, American Red Cross founder Clara Barton was sent to Mt. Vernon to aide in recovery efforts.
- Barton set up an emergency makeshift hospital at what is now the Appellate Courthouse.
- The Appellate Courthouse in Mt. Vernon is the only courthouse still in operation where Abraham Lincoln argued a case. In 1859, Lincoln successfully lowered the tax for the Illinois Central Railroad.
- While visiting his sister in Benton, Illinois, in 1963, George Harrison of the Beatles bought a Rickenbacker guitar from Fenton’s Music store in Mt. Vernon.
- The guitar was used in the Abbey Road Studios recording of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”.
- Mary Jane Chesley became the first female mayor of Mt. Vernon in 2007.
- President George and Barbara Bush, Rosalyn Carter, singer Crystal Gayle and entertainer Ed Sullivan have all visited the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport.
Location has been a key part of the equation for Jefferson County’s success with convenient transportation via highway, rail and air. Almost one-third of the nation’s top 50 metropolitan areas are within 500 miles of Jefferson County. Mt. Vernon is at the crossroads of I-57 and I-64, which is the fifth busiest highway freight intersection in the U.S.
Located in the heart of southern Illinois, Jefferson County has multiple Interstate exits on I-57 and I-64. Some highway access from Jefferson County includes:
Route Access Direction
- Interstate 57 Local North/South
- Interstate 64 Local East/West
- Interstate 70 65 miles north East/West via I-57
- Interstate 24 51 miles south East/West via I-57
- State Route 37 Local North/South
- State Route 15 Local East/West
- State Route 148 Local North/South
- State Route 142 Local Northwest/Southwest
Another key component making Jefferson County a hub of transportation is its world-class airport. The Mt. Vernon Outland Airport has a 6,500-foot main runway, fixed base operation, terminal building and storage hangers. The airport regularly serves local automotive suppliers with just-in-time delivery to plants waiting for larger orders.
Charter and private aviation services are provided, as well as refueling. The facility offers Shell 100 and Jet A fuels; a pilot lounge with weight and exercise room, shower and snooze rooms; wireless internet in the terminal; complimentary refreshments; courtesy shuttle; and overnight hangar reservations. Other commercial air service within 90 miles include Lambert International Airport-St. Louis, Mid America Airport-Mascoutah and Williamson County Airport – Marion.
Not to be outdone, the rail industry in Jefferson County and southern Illinois is thriving and a major component in logistics for North America. Two transloading facilities provide access to four of the train lines that run through Jefferson County. One is at Milano Railway Logistics in Mt. Vernon, which serves the NS, UP and Evansville-Western short-line. The other is in Bluford, operated by Bridgewell Resources and serving the CN line.
Mt. Vernon sits at the unique junction of three Class 1 Railroads, the UP, CSX and NS, as well as BNSF and Evansville Western, allowing companies to move their materials and goods east and west from one location. Jefferson County is also just 45 minutes from East St. Louis, Illinois, the nation’s No. 2 rail hub, and passenger services are available within 30 miles through Amtrak.
Motor freight also plays an extensive role in moving Jefferson County forward. Local distribution is alive and well with manufacturers like Continental Tire, Everbrite Neon Sign, Walgreens Distribution Center and NAPA. Trucking companies include UPS Freight, FedEx Freight, Overnite Transportation and Direct Motor Freight as well as other local companies including Prologistics, Midwestern Transit and Road Dog Drivers.
For companies that require more than road, air and rail transport, inland port facilities are available within one and-a-half hours of Jefferson County on both the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers.
Jefferson County, Illinois, is uniquely positioned to be a transportation hub for not only the Midwest, but also for all of North America.
Jefferson County and Mt. Vernon are celebrating 200 years in 2019, and many businesses in the community are celebrating milestones as well – including the biggest employer in Jefferson County – Continental Tire.
Continental Tire is celebrating 45 years in their Mt. Vernon location.
When the factory was built in 1974 it was owned by General Tire. Jefferson County residents began applying and working before construction was even complete.
“I filled out an application when I was 18, I was 18 on March the 4th,” said Robert Irvin Jr., a Nason native who has worked at Continental Tire for 45 years. “I came in for an interview in April – took off an afternoon class to come out here for an interview – then came back again in May. I’ve got my original letter dated August 22 offering me a job. My first day was September 4.”
Irvin was number 58 when he started at General Tire in 1974. Now he’s number two in the plant.
When the plant was built there were 40 acres under-roof. In 1988 they began expanding by adding on for truck tires, and in 2008 construction began for what now consists of 120 acres under-roof.
Sam Higdon came from the Mayfield, Ky., Continental Tire plant to Mt. Vernon in 2005. He was set to retire in Kentucky, but when the company asked him to relocate to Mt. Vernon he couldn’t say no.
“I know a lot about tire manufacturing, that’s all I’ve done my adult life,” Higdon said. “And I’ve been very fortunate to work for a very good company starting out … Continental is a great company, and this manufacturing plant [in Mt. Vernon] is second-to-none in the world.”
The company has inspired many long-term and loyal employees through the years due to good working conditions, and of course, good compensation. Irvin said he could have retired already as well, but life at the company was too good to give up.
“All the years I’ve been here, I can’t complain about anything truthfully,” Irvin said. “They’ve always treated people pretty fair. After 45 years if they didn’t, I wouldn’t still be here.”
In addition to working at Continental Irvin has been a road commissioner for Elk Prairie Township for 10 ½ years. He and his wife have been married 45 years, and they love to travel, camp and have visited 39 states on a motorcycle. He said thanks to the company they’ve been able to enjoy life and send their daughter through college.
Continental is the largest employer in Jefferson County with 3,667 employees currently working at the Mt. Vernon plant. Since 2009 they have gone from a $17 million company to a $47 million company, and according to Higdon that wouldn’t be possible without the quality employees they hire.
“When you walk the floor of this factory, you’ll see ordinary people,” Higdon said. “Some of them have been here three years, some of them 40 … and I guarantee you they know what they’re doing. When you start questioning them about their jobs and what they do, you’ll find out that they are focused on doing it right, and that they understand that we’re making tires. The people extruding the threads understand that the only thing that keeps this big ship afloat is putting good product in the warehouse.”
From 1,000 employees to nearly 4,000, one plant to four, the company has grown and flourished over the years. Since Continental bought the factory in 1987 growth has been exponential.
“When I started in curing, which is where I started at originally and I’m still there, we had three curing presses running, and now we’ve got over … just in passenger there’s 200-some,” Irvin said. “We’ve got what they call plant 2, plant 3 and plant 4, and I don’t even know how many presses they have. To me, the company’s got a lot of faith in Mt. Vernon to keep building on here, because of the people in this area.”
Mt. Vernon, Illinois, in Jefferson County sits at the crossroads of Interstate Highways 57 and 64, just one hour east of St. Louis and one hour west of Evansville, Indiana.
Manufacturing got its start in Mt. Vernon back in the early 1890s when the Mt. Vernon “Car Shops” produced thousands of railway cars and railroad equipment for the nation. Over the years the products have changed, but the talented workforce and productivity of the people has not.
With highway access to over 66 percent of the United States, Mt. Vernon has a reputation as the manufacturing hub of Southern Illinois. Many manufacturers call Jefferson County Home, including Continental Tire the Americas; National Railway Equipment, Magnum Steel Works, InnoTech Manufacturing, Everbrite Neon Sign, PPG, Sun Container, Mt. Vernon Mold Works, National Belt Service, Phoenix Modular Elevator, Bennett Metal Products and Schulte Industries, Inc.
Continental Tire the Americas LLC currently has 150 acres of manufacturing under roof with current expansions of another 300,000 square feet in the planning and construction phases. With 3,432 employees in one location, CTA is the anchor of manufacturers in Jefferson County and the state’s largest private-sector employer south of Peoria. CTA produces approximately 13.4 million passenger tires and 3.15 million truck and utility vehicle tires per year. CTA is a top-line manufacturer utilizing robotics and modernization techniques where applicable.
Employee-owned National Railway Equipment Co., headquartered in Mt. Vernon with more than 200 team members, is a global leader in the rail, marine and power industries. They have nine locations in North America and three affiliates overseas. Offering engineering solutions around the globe, NRE – Locomotive is the world’s largest independent supplier of locomotive services, new and remanufactured locomotives, locomotive leasing, field services, parts and salvage operations serving Class 1, regional, short-line, government and industrial railroads around the globe.
Magnum Steel Works Corp has been in business since 2005 and has grown from a 12,000-square-foot building to a 34,000-square-foot facility, and most recently to a state-of-the-art 128,000-square-foot facility on the west side of Mt. Vernon. Magnum Steel Works specializes in high quality machine works for manufacturing and the coal mining industries including heavy fabrication, sheet metal fabrication, manual and CNC Machining MIG and TIG welding waterjet cutting, laser cutting, turret punch, rebuild services and CNC press bakes.
InnoTech Manufacturing LLC is a versatile, creative metals manufacturing company. With more than 70 combined years in the manufacturing and construction industries, the principles of InnoTech consistently made innovations which save time and resources for the various construction trades. InnoTech specializes in MIG/TIG welding, plasma cutting, press brakes and custom CNC folding of many products. InnoTech performs their own powder coating of all finished products. In addition, InnoTech is an UltraLox dealer and manufactures aluminum railings for commercial and residential projects across the nation.
Everbrite – Mt. Vernon Neon Sign has designed and manufactured point-of-purchase signs, displays and outdoor identity systems since 1927. Everbrite has progressed to become a global leader in visual identification and LED lighting. As a world leader in the visual branding and identity industry, Everbrite services A-List companies throughout the world in markets including automotive, brewery, convenience stores, medical, retail petroleum and quick service restaurants. Mt. Vernon Neon Sign is Everbright’s only domestic producer of custom neon signs and one of only a handful in the nation. Everbrite’s dedication to excellence and innovation as well as world-class care for their customers has made them one of the brightest choices in the business.
PPG has been a global leader in the paint and coatings industry for more than 130 years and operates more than 160 plants in roughly 70 countries. Originally known as Vanex Inc., the Mt. Vernon facility opened in 1963. PPG acquired the plant in 2008 and it has since experienced tremendous growth. The plant produced over 1.25 million gallons of product in 2018 alone. PPG currently employs more than 50 individuals. Paint produced here is used in the production of steel buildings, metal roofs, high-end louvers and shutters, John Deere and Case New Holland tractors, Continental white-wall tires and many other incredible products.
Phoenix Modular Elevator is the largest producer of quality, commercial modular elevators in the world, with a 20-year international track record. PME elevators are manufactured elevators, meaning the hoist-way and the elevator car are built together as one unit, ready for installation. PME delivers high-quality, commercial elevators in less time and with a faster installation than the out-of-date stick-built alternative. Once the complete elevator arrives on site, it is craned into place and the installer connects it to power and performs final testing and adjusting. With power connected, the elevator can be fully functional and ready for inspection in less than one week.
Bennett Metal Products, Inc. is a second-generation, family-owned, ISO-certified shop offering multi-axis CNC precision milling and turning, product prototyping, mechanical and electrical assembly, welding, waterjet cutting, conventional machining, short-run production, tool & die building and testing. Over the last five decades, Bennett Metal Products, Inc. has been committed to becoming one of the finest precision job shops in the Midwest and has experienced continuous and steady growth. Around the clock operation, combined with their central location and access to major interstate and trucking lines, enables them to ship products quickly and economically anywhere in the Continental United States.
Schulte Industries, Inc. has grown to $1 million in sales over the last five years. Schulte Industries specializes in reusable packing and transport materials for shop floors; namely, sewing multi-pocket bags that fit in industrial crates. Schulte Industries employs material cutters, multiple component sewers and final sewing assemblers. At Schulte Industries, employees see some of the next generation models of vehicles and boats before they ever reach the market. When they see a Toyota Camry drive by, they know they had a part in that vehicle’s production.
The Jefferson County Development Corporation is a proactive force in the county that implements strategies to attract, maintain and develop business in the community, and consists as a partnership of private industry, local and state government, local and state agencies, education, cultural entities and faith-based organization. This partnership provides a resourceful and flexible environment to meet ever-changing economic demands.
There has been ongoing progress in Jefferson County, with a big boost since 2009, due to more than $1 billion in expansions and new development. Collaboration between municipal and county government and the JCDC has been key to ensuring the process of development is both efficient and effective. Each of the region’s targeted markets, including manufacturing, health care, distribution, retail and hospitality, has experienced growth.
Its strategic location, history of manufacturing and solid regional workforce have attracted several companies, making Jefferson County the jobs capital of Southern Illinois. In 2016, the State of Illinois announced the approval of an Enterprise Zone to serve portions of Jefferson County, including almost all of the non-residential property in Mt. Vernon, and portions of the villages of Dix and Waltonville, replacing a zone that expired in the same year. State benefits include a utility tax credit and investment tax credit that benefit large corporations. The major incentives are provided locally, with property tax abatement available for up to 10 years for qualified projects. A sales tax rebate on building materials is also available. There are less than 100 Enterprise Zones statewide.
Another critical tool that has driven area development for years in Jefferson County is the tax increment finance district. Mt. Vernon has three TIF districts; one in our downtown and two more to assist with development on the east and west sides of exits 94 and 95, serving the I-57/I-64 corridor. TIF is a versatile economic development tool that makes the annual increase in taxable value available for qualified development assistance while preserving the base value for all participating taxing jurisdictions. The TIF district has been responsible for providing more than 40 percent in assistance to area businesses.
With new and renovated retail, expanding manufacturing, thriving freight and logistics businesses and available incentives on more than 2,000 acres of land, Jefferson County provides tremendous added value for your next development project. We welcome you to join in our success!