Rock Island Economic Growth wins $1.5M for Mt. Carroll redevelopment

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Rock Island Economic Growth Corp. has earned a $1.5-million state of Illinois grant for a redevelopment project in Mt. Carroll.

Rock Island Economic Growth Corp. (GROWTH) was awarded $1.5 million of Rebuild Illinois funds on Tuesday, which will complete the Phase 1 of GROWTH’s multiphase redevelopment of Shimer Square in Mount Carroll, Ill.

A total of 54 grant applications were received for the competitive Regional Economic Development component of the Rebuild Illinois grant. GROWTH’s application for Shimer Square represents one of 11 organizations awarded a total of $16.5 million in Rebuild Illinois funds to this highly competitive grant.

The objective of the Regional Economic Development component, in keeping with the Governor’s 5-year Economic Development plan, is to provide grants to strengthen local economies and encourage the development of regional industry clusters. 

Through the Rebuild Illinois Regional Economic Development program, DCEO is providing grants for 11 new projects that will unlock a total $75.5 million investment, while creating at least 1,465 jobs statewide.

“These projects are focused on supporting key, long-term economic development priorities for our state – and doing so with an eye for boosting investment in communities that previously were too often overlooked,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a Tuesday release. “I’m proud that $16.5 million in state funding will create nearly 1,500 jobs across the state through our Rebuild Illinois Regional Economic Development program. These local investments are yet another milestone on our journey toward the Illinois we’re committed to building – where no resident is left behind.”

The funds will specifically support Phase 1 of the Shimer Square redevelopment, which takes on three of the 17 buildings and the front entry gate, representing more than $12 million in total project costs. Phase 1 of Shimer Square consists of the adaptive-reuse of the Bennett and Hathaway Halls into the creation of 37 residential rental units.

Shimer Square is a comprehensive redevelopment of a former college campus into a mixture of housing, business, and community amenities.

Phase 1 also consists of the rehabilitation of the Sawyer House and repurposing the facility into a resource center for entrepreneurs, homeowners, and rentals so they have access to resources and tools to help create wealth-building opportunities for the future. Phase 1 will break ground later this year and will create and support more than 271 jobs through its 9-month construction period — 93 construction jobs, 165 indirect jobs, and 13 retained jobs upon construction completion.

As a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, GROWTH will use the Sawyer House to provide financial literacy services to individuals as well as offer space to a national company, Bridge Investment CDC, to provide development services and specialized loan products for entrepreneurs wishing to open a business, according to a GROWTH release. Phase I of the redevelopment is anticipated to generate annual property taxes of over $20,000 just with the three buildings, igniting community plans set forth for the campus that have been in place for decades.

“The Rebuild Illinois grant was made possible by unanimous support given to GROWTH by the City of Mt. Carroll, local and regional development partners, the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Illinois Historic Preservation Office, and so many others,” GROWTH president/CEO Brian Hollenback said in the release.

Brian Hollenback, president/CEO of Rock Island Economic Growth Corp.

“We are humbled to be the developers of such a catalytic, multi-phase redevelopment of this campus. We look forward to bringing new opportunities for all through the creation of housing, job creation, and community resources through the Shimer Square redevelopment,” he said.

“The Rebuild Illinois grant is highly competitive, and through hard work and dedication by GROWTH’s staff and our meticulously curated redevelopment strategy for Shimer Square, truly demonstrates just how aligned this redevelopment effort to state and local plans,” Hollenback said. “We are so humble and proud to bring this type of investment to the Mt. Carroll community.”

Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation is a Community Housing Development Organization and is regarded as a national leader in developing innovative housing opportunities by convening and facilitating work among various community partners, according to the nonprofit.

GROWTH has over 35 years of experience and has successfully leveraged over $310 million in housing and housing related activities, and is a HUD approved and Freddie Mac certified housing counseling agency.  In addition, GROWTH has also impacted more than 1,200 units of single-family housing throughout northwestern Illinois through its single-family rehabilitation and owner-occupied programs.

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