By KEVIN BESSLER
The Center Square
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois has a new economic recovery program aimed at revitalizing commercial corridors that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced a $50 million capitol program designed to spur investments in main street areas statewide. The latest installment of the Rebuild Illinois capitol program will leverage funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to provide grants for construction, repair and modernization of public infrastructure and amenities.
“We are inviting cities, towns, chambers of commerce, private developers just to name a few, to apply for these funds that will revitalize their communities and the local economy,” said DCEO spokesperson Aly Grady.
Projects eligible for the grants must be located in a commercial center or downtown area. They could include roadways, parking and public way improvements, parks and plazas for public use, and transit-oriented development.
Project awards will range from $250,000 to $3 million in funding. The program incentivizes local match with private businesses or organizations required to provide a minimum 50% match. Public projects will receive higher priority if they include a local match component.
Smaller towns and their businesses in downstate Illinois have been hit hard by the pandemic, and attracting more people to live there will be a challenge in a state that is losing residents. The total population in Illinois is about 12.8 million, a decline of over 18,000 since the last census count. Only two other states, West Virginia and Mississippi, lost residents.
“While Illinois has made significant progress in combatting COVID-19 and reopening our communities, we know that more work is needed to restore economic activity to the places hit hardest during the pandemic,” said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia.