Guest view: Refinery puts spotlight on benefits of growth

May 22, 2014 

On Wednesday, Phillips 66 held its Community Leaders' Dinner at the Wood River refinery. This is the 10th year this facility has hosted this unique event, which provides an opportunity for area leaders to tour and meet with the refinery team and others in the community. In opening its doors in this way, the community as a whole can gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the plant, and the global issues impacting this asset in our region.

It's great insight for sure, but it falls short in terms of communicating the real impact that this asset has on our region, particularly in the wake of the recent multi-billion dollar expansion.

While the expansion was a key driver of our economy in a time of recession, the expanded facility is continuing to positively impact Southwestern Illinois by providing additional jobs, extra tax dollars and continued community support.

In 2013, Phillips 66 had more than 800 employees and hundreds of contractual workers. The refinery keeps growing, allowing new jobs to open up for the local community. Just since January, nearly 100 individuals have been newly employed at the facility.

When those individuals spend their payroll dollars in the area, and that spending is augmented by the purchases of visitors who are brought to the area for business with the refinery, the economic impact is felt throughout the community.

As the company grows, so do the tax dollars contributed to state and local tax revenue.

Phillips 66 gives back $300,000 annually to the local area, supporting programs such as Lewis and Clark Community College for Kids summer camp, Hartford summer camp, Two Rivers Fishing Fair, United Way, Watershed Nature Center, DARE school programs, and more.

Phillips 66 also encourages community involvement with their employees through corporate and local volunteer opportunities. In 2013, employees participated in 1,184 hours of volunteer work within the community. The company's Employee Volunteer Grant Program allows Phillips 66 to support employee volunteer efforts, along with the matching gift program, which allows employees to make monetary donations to non-profit organizations to gain additional dollars to further support their communities and causes, when volunteer hours have also been given. Over $40,000 in volunteer grants were awarded in 2013 and $20,000 in 2012.

There's no question that Phillips 66 remains a vital economic growth engine for the region. Its longstanding presence here and its ability to grow in place are directly linked the area's transportation infrastructure. The product produced at the refinery is delivered by pipeline and leaves the plant by rail, barge, truck and pipeline, utilizing many components of our multimodal infrastructure, and supporting additional jobs along the way.

Creating a climate for continued expansions along the Illinois 3 corridor in Madison and St. Clair counties is part of the mission of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois. Phillips 66 is a prime example of how that growth can help drive economic prosperity in the region, and we wish them many more anniversaries of their community leaders' event.

Ellen Krohne is executive director of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois.

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