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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2005

GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES MAJOR PARTNERSHIP WITH LOWE’S TO HELP SUCCESSFUL HOME IMPROVEMENT RETAILER BUILD NEW DISTRIBUTION CENTER IN ROCKFORD AND BRING 500 JOBS TO THE REGION

ROCKFORD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the awarding of more than $11.2 million in Opportunity Returns support for Lowe’s, which will allow the home improvement retailer to build a 1.4 million square foot Regional Distribution Center in Rockford that will bring 500 new jobs to the area.  The dynamic new facility, which will be the size of approximately 30 football fields under one roof, will have more than five miles of conveyors moving 32,000 products through the facility.  The center, its first in Illinois, will serve more than 100 Lowe’s stores in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan.
 
“We are continuing to invest in companies that invest in Illinois.  Lowe’s is another nationally renowned company that has decided that Illinois is a great state to substantially grow its business.  By forging this partnership with Lowe’s to build its new distribution center in Rockford, we are bringing more good jobs to the area, boosting the economic vitality of the entire region and creating more opportunities for our working families to get ahead,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
 
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will provide the support for Lowe’s new distribution center.  DCEO will make available Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) corporate income tax credits over the next ten years based on job creation numbers; a Large Business Development Program (LBDP) grant; Enterprise Zone benefits, including sales tax exemptions and tax credits for job creation; and Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) job training funds that will help enhance the skills of its workforce.  IDOT will also make available $3 million for key roadway improvements needed to build the new distribution center.
 
“We appreciate the work and support at the both the state and local level to make this a win-win project,” said Mike Mabry, Lowe’s executive vice president of logistics and distribution.  “Lowe’s Rockford, Ill. Regional distribution center represents an approximate $90 to $100 million investment for our company, will create approximately 500 jobs and will help Lowe’s continue to provide quality home improvement products to our customers, when they want them and at everyday low prices.”
                                                                       
"When companies like Lowe’s decide to build in Rockford, it’s a tremendous indication not only that we're acting as a valuable partner to business, but also that the many competitive strengths of this community are compelling enough to attract some of the world's most successful firms.  Gov. Blagojevich is making the investments in our community that are vital to creating good jobs today and tomorrow," said State Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D-Rockford).
 
“Through tremendous initiatives like this one, we’re driving home the message that Rockford is a great city for businesses to locate, expand and prosper.  Gov. Blagojevich continues to make the kinds of investments that are critical to fostering a healthy, diverse and vibrant economy.  We were very happy to partner with the Governor and Lowe’s to bring these 500 jobs to Rockford,” said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. 
 
Mayor Morrissey also complimented other area units of local government for their participation in this project, including significant tax abatements. In particular, "the County stepped in at a critical time with substantial funding for infrastructure improvements, and along with all of our area taxing districts, participated in creating economic incentives in order to secure this project. I am proud of our area's commitment to economic development."
 
"This project proves that we are open for business and committed to doing what it takes to create opportunity for our constituents," said Winnebago County Board Chairmen Scott Christiansen.
 
Construction on the distribution center will begin this fall and is expected to be completed in 2007. 
 
Lowe’s is a $36.5 billion retailer of home improvement products and the world’s second largest home improvement retailer, with a specific emphasis on retail ‘do-it-yourself’ and commercial business customers. 
 
The company currently operates 26 stores in Illinois, with four under construction, and has more than 3,500 Illinois employees.  It has more than 1,125 stores in 49 states, with approximately 130 million square feet of retail selling space.
 
“Gov. Blagojevich and I recognize that in this global economy, companies have more choices than ever when it comes to deciding where to do business.  Our mission is to work tirelessly to provide all the needed resources to assure companies like Lowe’s that the city of Rockford and the state of Illinois offer a tremendous business environment where they can reach new levels of success.  Lowe’s decision to build its new distribution center in Rockford is another indication that we’re getting the job done,” 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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