The Sauk Valley area will receive economic planning grants to help with broadband, housing and capital development projects.
Earlier this week, Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced 42 grant recipients who will receive nearly $3.5 million in funding to accelerate local economic recovery initiatives.
Grants are awarded through the Research in Illinois to Spur Economic Recovery, or RISE, program to create or update economic plans to promote economic recovery. Once plans are created, DCEO will offer grantees a competitive grant opportunity to apply for funding for specific projects included in their plans. This program is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.
“Cities, regions, towns and villages in Illinois understand the opportunities and needs of their own communities, and the RISE program enables them to collaborate and plan improvements,” Pritzker said. “These grants will help communities develop economic development plans that reflect the specific impact of the pandemic on their region, with the option to apply for funding to put the plans into action in the future.”
Projects focus on initiatives and investments that support recovery from the pandemic, such as reactivating trade corridors, building more affordable housing, or making investments that improve quality of life.
One of the grants was $121,000 to the Blackhawk Hills Regional Council, a regional planning organization that engages in community and economic development, natural resource conservation, and planning in the counties of Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson and Whiteside.
The grant will be used to help at least six communities write capital improvement plans, which typically span five years and prioritize infrastructure and other municipal projects, council chief executive Dan Payette said.
“A new or updated CIP should help a community prioritize funding and make strategic use of limited resources,” he said. “Additionally, a community will be in a better position to apply for infrastructure and equipment funding opportunities that require proof of planning prior to application.
The organization will target individual municipalities in Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson and Whiteside counties through a request for proposals process.
The City of Savanna will receive $50,000 to help address housing issues and create a plan to rehabilitate or demolish derelict properties.
“There’s a lot to do,” Savanna Mayor Val Gunnarsson said. “Savanna is blessed with a long and incredible shoreline on one of the greatest rivers in the world and is surrounded by fabulous natural beauty. But these broken down structures are a drag on our economy and our well-being.”
Another goal will be to increase apartment developments to provide more housing to attract entry-level employees to Thomson Prison, as well as improving downtown buildings, he said.
Ogle County will receive a $75,000 grant focused on broadband, jobs and housing.
Ogle is partnering with Lee, Putnam and Boone Counties and Syndeo to improve broadband access in rural communities.
The group wants to create a technologically advanced, affordable, accessible, adaptable and reliable broadband network; leverage partnerships and resources across the region to support and expand network development; serve and support all inclusive services for residents, education, business, agriculture and tourism; and incorporate scalable enhancements that will enhance existing infrastructure and new developments
“The RISE program helps communities create meaningful plans that include concrete next steps tailored to their unique needs and opportunities,” said DCEO Director Sylvia I. Garcia. said. “These plans will help cities, towns, and regions compete for additional funding to support projects outlined in the plans that will improve the quality of life and economic development in Illinois.”
RISE grants will reimburse recipients for costs associated with developing or updating an economic recovery plan, including salaries or contract costs, research, outreach and public meetings, and expenses. associated with the administration of the grant, such as rental of meeting space and printing.