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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 12, 2005

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES A $376,000 OPPORTUNITY RETURNS GRANT FOR EFFINGHAM COUNTY HOUSING REHABILITATION PROJECT

CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $376,000 in funding for the rehabilitation of 12 owner occupied homes in the Southeast region. These home improvements in the Village of Beecher City in Effingham County will drastically enhance the living environments and quality of life for low-income and disabled residents, as well as building the capacity for economic growth. This aggressive effort to improve living conditions for the region’s most underserved residents is part of the Governor’s Opportunity Returns initiative, his comprehensive, pro-active strategy for restoring economic opportunity to the Southeast region.

"As we strive to make Illinois the most attractive state in the country to do business in, our goal is to make each region more economically competitive from top to bottom, in every category that matters. Quality of life is certainly an important factor for any company deciding where to locate its business. By revitalizing our housing, we’re building stronger and healthier communities. This improves the quality of life for current and future residents of the Southeast region and will ultimately be a catalyst of greater economic prosperity," Gov. Blagojevich said.

The funds for this initiative are part of the Community Development Assistance Program (CDAP), a federally-funded grant program that assists Illinois communities by providing grants to local governments to help them in financing economic development, public facilities and housing rehabilitation projects. The program is targeted to assist low-to-moderate income people by creating job opportunities and improving the quality of their living environment. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) administers the program.

Gov. Blagojevich has developed the following objectives for the CDAP program:

· Strengthen community economic development through the creation of jobs, stimulation of private investment and strengthening the tax base

· Improvement of public infrastructure and elimination of conditions which are detrimental to health, safety and public welfare; and

· Conservation and expansion of the state's housing stock in order to provide a decent home and a suitable living environment for persons of low-to-moderate income and the developmentally disabled.

This CDAP grant being provided to the Southeast region falls under the third objective. It is designed to help provide safe and sanitary living conditions for low-to-moderate income residents.

"Making communities more livable throughout the region goes hand-in-hand with creating better economic opportunity. This Opportunity Returns grant will fund critical housing improvements in Beecher City, strengthening the foundation of the community, and enhancing its competitiveness in the business world. One community at a time, we’re helping the Southeast region realize its great economic potential," DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.

Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy 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 – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges. Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.



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