Gov. Announces Main Street Program In Hillsboro

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Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced a new $50 million capital program designed to bring forward investments to revitalize commercial corridors and main street areas statewide in downtown Hillsboro on Friday afternoon, Sept. 10.

“On behalf of the City of Hillsboro, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Governor Pritzker and his colleagues for choosing our small town of Hillsboro to make this historic announcement,” Hillsboro Mayor Don Downs said. “The $50 million funding opportunity from the governor’s capital plan will open the door for much-needed economic growth and investment.”

Joining the governor and mayor were Sen. Doris Turner, of  DCEO manager of the Central Region Office of Regional Economic Development Alyson Grady, and Hillsboro Community and Economic Planner Jonathan Weyer.

“Governor, I get to tell you about my favorite thing–Hillsboro,” Weyer said, before describing a community full of life, fueled by the spirit of people who care.

Sen. Turner said she has been impressed by the diversity of business in Hillsboro, and the stories of their owners.

“I’m looking forward to coming back next spring to stay at the Historic Red Rooster Inn,” she said.

The latest installment of the Rebuild Illinois capital program will leverage funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to provide grants for construction, repair and modernization of public infrastructure and amenities to boost jobs, improve quality of life and stimulate economic activity for areas hit hardest during COVID-19. 

The Rebuild Illinois Main Street and Downtown Capital program is part of $1.5 billion authorized by the State’s FY 22 budget to help jumpstart the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19. The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) can be found on DCEO’s website. 

“I’m pleased to announce the Rebuild Illinois Main Street and Downtown Capital program–a $50 million commitment to revitalize the commercial corridors and main street areas hit hardest by the pandemic,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This first-of-its-kind program recognizes and addresses the impact of the pandemic on city centers and commercial corridors–delivering quality of life enhancements that will invite people back to Main Street, grow jobs in the community, and deliver modernized infrastructure to commercial neighborhoods that have waited too long for their fair share.” 

RBI Main Street and Downtown Capital recognizes the toll that the pandemic has had on local commercial corridors–with many communities suffering a decline in economic activity due to a loss in tourism, the shuttering of key industries such as arts and hospitality, and with the pandemic shifting more people from downtown offices toward work from home. The goal of this project is to drive investment in infrastructure and public amenities that will invite more people back into Main Street districts, and local city centers.   

“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. “Governor Pritzker’s economic recovery plan calls for programs to do just that—bringing jobs, visitors and economic activity back into our communities. Through the RBI Main Street and Downtown Capital program, DCEO will leverage a strategic deployment of capital to accelerate quality of life improvements that will stimulate jobs and boost economic activity where it’s needed."

Projects eligible for RBI Main Street and Downtown Capital grants must be located in a commercial center or downtown area and may include, but are not limited to: roadways, parking and public way improvements; parks and venues or plazas for public use; sustainability upgrades; structural repairs; and mixed-use or transit-oriented development. Projects awards will range from $250,000 to $3 million in funding. 

Community organizations, local governments, and private developers are among the list of eligible parties encouraged to apply for funding. Projects will be prioritized based on: location in a disproportionately impacted area (DIA) or rural area; alignment with local or regional economic development plans; and demonstrates community support. The program incentivizes local match–with private businesses or organizations required to provide a minimum 50 percent match, and with public projects receiving higher priority if they include a local match component. All projects must adhere to participation requirements of the State of Illinois' Business Enterprise Program (BEP), designed to ensure that state-funded contracting opportunities benefit a diverse set of contractors. 

Source funding for the RBI Main Street and Downtown Capital program is generated by the American Rescue Plan Act and Rebuild Illinois– an historic $45 billion plan passed by Governor Pritzker, and the state's first comprehensive capital plan in more than a decade. DCEO has been charged with spearheading a number of Rebuild Illinois programs, including investments to modernize public infrastructure, boost broadband capacity, and accelerate business development and jobs for communities statewide. 

The deadline to apply for Main Street and Downstate Capital grants is Jan. 10, 2022. DCEO will be hosting technical assistance sessions on the new program, including a webinar hosted on Monday Sept. 13. Prospective applicants can register for the webinar here. For updates on the program or other upcoming economic recovery grant opportunities, check DCEO’s website. 

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