ROCKFORD – October 8, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the state is providing an $8 million River Edge Redevelopment grant to the City of Rockford to enable the city to continue moving forward with the long-planned revitalization of Rockford’s riverfront and downtown areas. The series of projects, funded through the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, will create an estimated 160 construction jobs and 110 full-time, permanent jobs, with the potential for hundreds of additional permanent jobs when all the phases are completed.
“We are giving Rockford a tremendous opportunity to put more people to work in the heart of the city and continue our state’s economic recovery,” said Governor Quinn. “The River Edge program allows us to clean up waterfront areas that have suffered from years of neglect, create jobs, and set the stage for more economic revitalization and a better quality of life.”
The City of Rockford is receiving $8 million from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital plan, administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), for projects to revitalize the city’s riverfront and downtown areas including:
Market & Recreation District ($3 million)
The funded projects include approximately $3 million for improvements for the Outdoor City Market and a building that will house the Indoor City Market and a Center for Civic Design & Planning. Streetscape improvements along East State Street would also be supported.
Innovation & Education District ($3.5 million)
A critical component of the new vision for Downtown includes supporting education and innovation as exemplified by Rock Valley College’s announcement this year that it will locate a campus in Downtown Rockford. Governor Quinn will support that development with approximately $2 million to help define and start the development of the old Ingersoll factory site and the Barber-Colman manufacturing site, which are each owned by the City. Both of these facilities are located on the Rock River, and will be served by the new South Main Amtrak passenger rail station and the state’s complete reconstruction of South Main Street. The River Edge funding will help the community detail the vision for the facilities through market and feasibility analysis, architecture and planning, and site preparation and construction. Governor Quinn, recognizing the importance of the city’s efforts to bring the new Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University campus to Rockford, will support campus development within the River Edge Zone with $1.5 million in River Edge funding.
Theater & Entertainment District ($1.5 million)
River Edge will also fund $1.5 million in the Downtown Theater & Entertainment District based on Governor Quinn recognizing the growing momentum of the community’s investments in the MetroCentre, Coronado Performing Arts Center, RAVE reorganization, and the Main Street Mall demolition and street improvements. The funding will include $500,000 in additional landscaping and street improvements for Main Street, as well as $1 million in Davis Park area improvements, including financial support for the demolition and environmental clean up of the old Tapco manufacturing site.
“River Edge investments made in the three downtown districts will support the priorities developed in recent years through partners like the River District Association and the Rock River Development Partnership. Governor Quinn’s investments will leverage local public and private sector dollars to create jobs and more opportunities for our citizens,” said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey.
The River Edge Redevelopment Zone program was created by the Illinois General Assembly to stimulate the safe and cost-effective redevelopment of environmentally challenged areas near rivers through a variety of grants and tax incentives. Rockford, Elgin, Aurora and East St. Louis have all been approved as River Edge Redevelopment Zones.
“The River Edge Redevelopment program was designed to target resources to waterfront areas that have tremendous economic development potential, but are saddled with clean-up costs that put redevelopment out of reach,” said DCEO Director Warren Ribley. “Thanks to Illinois Jobs Now!, Rockford can move forward with its ambitious plans to improve its downtown and create many new jobs.”