The Marshall, Putnam and Stark county area is within 30-60 minute drive of the much larger urban centers of Bloomington-Normal, Peoria, LaSalle-Peru and the Quad Cities, and yet the region is rural in character and population. The 3 county area has a population of 24,323 and agriculture is a big driver of the economy.
There is a strong transportation structure in place that can support economic development which includes 3 Interstates, one east/west and two north/south, a highway on the West, 4 railroads located in the three counties and the Illinois River running through the region.
The Illinois River passes through Marshall and Putnam Counties and is used for commercial and recreational purposes with 13 grain terminals and numerous recreation access points. The leg of the river that runs thru the town of Henry, located in Marshall County, is the future home of the Port of Henry. The port will be a commercial hub for the region which will enable the growth of container barge transport, new strategies regarding barge services, operations and container handling processes. The Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway and the Ronald Reagan Trail pass through the region and attract tourists to the area.
The 3 counties are part of several regional efforts. There are two Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVB), the Heritage Corridor CVB (Putnam County) and the Peoria Area CVB (Marshall and Stark); 2 Workforce Regions; 3 Community College Districts and many communities have access to Enterprise Zones, Revolving Loan Funds and TIF districts. Putnam County is part of the Illinois Valley Regional Center that can bring foreign investors to projects in the region through the EB5 program and Marshall County is part of the TRANSPORT Port District. The region is part of the North Central Illinois Economic Development District (NCIEDD) that was designated by the U.S. Department of Commerce – Economic Development Administration in 2005. The region is also within Peoria’s Foreign Trade Zone.