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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 13, 2005

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES NEARLY $3.4 MILLION IN OPPORTUNITY RETURNS GRANTS FOR SOUTHERN REGION HOUSING REHABILITATION PROJECTS

CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced nearly $3.4 million in funding for the rehabilitation of 125 owner occupied homes throughout the Southern region. These home improvements will drastically enhance the living environments and quality of life for low-income and disabled Southern 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 Southern region.

"Opportunity Returns is a grassroots initiative that is designed to spark economic development at the community level. These Opportunity Returns grants will strengthen the foundation of communities throughout the Southern region, making business attraction and development more viable and helping the region collectively realize its vast economic potential," 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 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.

These CDAP grants being provided to the Southern region fall under the third objective. They are designed to help provide safe and sanitary living conditions for low-to-moderate income residents.

The Southern region’s housing improvements are as follows:

LOCATION DESCRIPTION COST

City of Carbondale Rehabilitate 10 owner occupied homes $376,000

Jackson

City of Christopher Rehabilitate 15 owner occupied homes $358,200

Franklin

City of Herrin Rehabilitate 15 owner occupied homes $365,300

Williamson

City of Johnston City Rehabilitate 17 owner occupied homes $370,200

Williamson

City of Mount Vernon Rehabilitate 13 owner occupied homes $350,200

Jefferson

City of Murphysboro Rehabilitate 13 owner occupied homes $360,800

Jackson

Village of Olmstead Rehabilitate 9 owner occupied homes $265,900

Pulaski

Village of Thompsonville Rehabilitate 13 owner occupied homes $335,700

Franklin

City of West Frankfort Rehabilitate 8 owner occupied homes $269,500

Franklin

City of Ziegler Rehabilitate 12 owner occupied homes $304,700

Franklin

Total: $3,356,500

"Gov. Blagojevich and I believe that creating greater economic opportunity begins with strengthening the core foundation of our communities. These grants won’t just help build 125 better homes for our residents, they will help build a more vibrant place to live and work for this entire community," State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) said.

"When we have residents that are struggling to meet their basic survival needs, the opportunity for economic advancement is only a dream. By refurbishing these homes, Gov. Blagojevich is helping meet the essential needs of Mt. Vernon residents and others across the region so that they can pursue the path of building a better tomorrow for themselves and their families," State Representative Kurt Granberg (D-Centralia) said.

"Initiatives like these demonstrate why a regional approach to economic development is most effective. The grants Gov. Blagojevich is providing will fund critical improvements in homes that are badly in need of refurbishing, and, in doing so, help build more vibrant and attractive communities that are better positioned for economic growth," said State Representative Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg).

"Restoring economic opportunity at the local level involves strengthening education and workforce preparedness, improving local infrastructure, attracting investment and supporting the needs of small business. But it begins on a more basic level. By improving 125 homes throughout the Southern region, Gov. Blagojevich is strengthening the very core of these communities, giving this strategic economic development effort a better chance to succeed and these communities a better chance to thrive," 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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