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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2004

GOVERNOR BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES $80,000 OPPORTUNITY RETURNS GRANT FOR CHAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND REDUCE COST OF DOING BUSINESS
Helping Local Businesses Reduce Costs Through Energy Efficient Lighting Grants

CHICAGO - Governor Rod Blagojevich announced today that $80,000 in Opportunity Returns funding is being made available for local businesses in Champaign to help cover the costs of installing energy efficiency lighting.  The grant funding comes from the Regional Energy Program (REP), an initiative administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, that is designed to strengthen the local economy and business competitiveness within communities through increased energy efficiency.  Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn will talk about the importance of this grant today at 2:00pm at the Great Impasta restaurant, located at 114 West Church in Champaign.
 
“One of the most effective ways to help businesses increase their bottom line and create new jobs is to help them cut their operating expenses.  By making this important resource available to local businesses throughout Champaign, they’ll be able to reduce their energy costs and increase their efficiency.  This is just another way we can help give businesses all the tools they need to become more competitive and profitable over the near and long term,” Governor Blagojevich said.
     
Energize Champaign will provide grants for energy efficient lighting and HVAC projects to owners and managers of downtown Champaign buildings.  Energize Champaign will grant up to $4,000 per qualified applicant for the applicable energy efficiency projects. 
 
"The Energize Champaign initiative is a forward thinking way to help avoid power outages here in Illinois by making energy-efficient, cost-effective, need-based capital improvements in Champaign's downtown buildings," said Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, whose newly released Energy Task Force report and recommendations advocate the need for more energy-efficient buildings in Illinois.
 
In addition to the new lighting grants available to downtown building owners and managers, Energize Champaign will continue to provide energy audit services and coordinate grant funding requests for equipment upgrades to downtown businesses, residences, homes, apartments and dorms.
 
“This is a comprehensive effort to improve energy efficiency in central Illinois.  Businesses, communities and schools can reduce their energy costs and improve their bottom line by cutting energy costs through energy efficiency and educating consumers,” said DCEO Director Jack Lavin.
 
The Opportunity Returns regional economic development plan is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history.  Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – finding areas with common economic strengths and needs, and developing a plan with specific actions for each region.  This grassroots effort is a product of significant outreach over several months with business, civic and labor leaders, and elected officials.  Opportunity Returns contains tangible actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to business.


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