By ELIZABETH DONALD
Labor-backed leaders gathered to announce millions of dollars in redevelopment projects that could bring union jobs and economic development to Madison County.
The projects totaled $7.6 million and are funded in part through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) Rebuild Illinois Main Street, Downtown Capital Program and the American Rescue Plan Act.
“Take a walk or drive down any Main Street in the Metro-East, and you’ll be met with character, historic buildings and cultural history,” said state Sen. Kris Tharp (D-Bethalto). “For those of us who are proud to live here and call this area home, we understand its potential to be a major tourism destination, and pleased to announce this funding to help bring these plans in Alton, Collinsville and Edwardsville to fruition.”
State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) called it a great day for the Metro East region. “This is needed funding that will create jobs, spark investment and enhance the quality of life for residents in our communities,” he said. “I appreciate that our governor has made this area a priority for state investment and look forward to working together on projects that further enhance our region.”
- Alton Works received $3 million to revitalize its downtown area and build a business incubator in the former Wedge Bank Building.
- The City of Collinsville received $1.8 million to revitalize an economic corridor from St. Louis Road and Main Street west to the Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site.
- The City of Edwardsville will use its $2.9 million to improve infrastructure, specifically a 130-year-old water main in the 100 block of Main Street.
“Edwardsville and Collinsville both have amazing opportunities ahead of them, and this Rebuild Illinois grant sets them up for success,” said state Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville). “I couldn’t think of a better use of grant dollars than investing them in high traffic areas used by all.”
Tharp said the combined $7.6 million investment into these three downtowns will “create jobs for residents, modernize infrastructure and encourage patrons and visitors to explore the local downtown.”
In all, DCEO announced $106 million in capital grants for Illinois downtowns, including a plethora of street, sewer and streetscape construction projects in more than 50 municipalities.
- Litchfield will rehabilitate historic downtown buildings;
- Taylorville will invest $3 million in streetscape and infrastructure improvements;
- Fairmont City will improve the Cookson Street corridor with streetscape and drainage improvements; and many others.
VITAL BOOST TO COMMERCIAL CENTERS
“This funding will provide a vital boost to commercial centers in St. Clair and Madison counties, where so many businesses have been hurt by the recent inflationary spike,” said state Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis). “New infrastructure projects in our downtown area also improve the safety, reliability and efficiency of the local supply chain. These simultaneous benefits help build a stronger future for all Illinois families, and I thank the DCEO and Governor Pritzker for their good work.
Gov. JB Pritzker said the projects will boost the economy and address long-awaited infrastructure needs.
“With that upgraded infrastructure comes economic opportunity: more jobs, more business growth, and more money pouring into the communities that need it most, and that’s what Rebuild Illinois is all about.”
DCEO Director Sylvia I. Garcia pointed out that Pritzker’s administration has doubled the amount of funding for these grants in recognition of the critical role Main Streets plays in creating jobs and improving quality of life.
Others who spoke in support of the program included Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, state Sen. Christopher Belt (D-Swansea), and state Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis), among others.