Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced the 42 grant recipients that will receive nearly $3.5 million in funding to accelerate local economic recovery initiatives. Through the Research in Illinois to Spur Economic Recovery (RISE) program, the State is providing grants to help local governments and economic development organizations (EDOs) create or update economic plans to promote economic recovery. After the 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 (ARPA).

“Cities, regions, towns and villages across Illinois understand the opportunities and needs of their own communities and the RISE program empowers them to collaborate and plan for improvements,” said Governor Pritzker. “These grants will help communities craft economic development plans that reflect the specific impact of the pandemic on their region, with the opportunity to apply for funding to put the plans into action in the future.”

RISE helps local governments and regional EDOs create plans that align with the state’s overarching economic plan, focusing on specific initiatives and investments that support recovery from the pandemic. Grant recipients are taking a comprehensive approach to economic development, developing plans to reactivate commercial corridors, build more affordable housing, or make investments that improve quality of life.

“Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, we are investing in cities and towns across Illinois to boost their economic recovery,” said DCEO Director Sylvia I. Garcia. “The RISE program helps communities create meaningful plans that include tangible next steps tailored to their unique needs and opportunities. These plans will help cities, towns and regions be competitive for additional funding to support projects outlined in the plans that will improve quality of life and economic development across Illinois.”

The RISE grants will reimburse awardees for costs associated with developing or updating economic recovery plans, including salaries or contractual costs, research, outreach and public meetings as well as expenses related to administering the grant, such as meeting space rentals and printing. Applicants that faced financial and capacity constraints or were in underserved communities were prioritized for awards. After plans are completed, grantees can apply for grants to fund specific initiatives or investments outlined in their economic plans. To be eligible, applicants were required to provide letters of support from the local municipality or counties impacted by the plan.

The economic development planning efforts, which are funded by ARPA, include plans focused on revitalizing commercial corridors, improving affordable housing options and supporting local workforces, among other priorities. The grantees are in all ten economic regions of the state and award amounts range from $25,000 to $150,000, with an average grant award of $82,300.

The City of Monmouth received $68,000, which it will use as part of an economic strategy focusing on new private investments in commercial, industrial, and residential development opportunities.

The City of Savanna received $50,000, which it will use as part of an economic strategy focused on housing.

Henry County received $75,000, which it will used to identify strategies to reestablish a tourism governance structure.

Mercer County Better Together will receive $64,226.78, which it will use to evaluate potential partnership structures between the local government and nonprofits.

The Mercer County Board of Supervisors will receive $75,000 to create an economic recovery plan focused on COVID-19 recovery, population growth and job creation.