Rock Island-based Economic Growth Corporation (GROWTH) invites the entire community to celebrate the kickoff of Shimer Square’s first redevelopment phase at Mayfest on Saturday, May 28, at 2 p.m., 203 E. Seminary St., Mt. Carroll, Ill.

Brian Hollenback, President/CEO of GROWTH, and Mayor Carl Bates will update the public on the redevelopment, and mark the official kickoff for construction to officially begin in fall 2022.

Brian Hollenback is president/CEO of Economic Growth Corporation.

“This celebration acknowledges a culmination of many individuals’ tireless efforts over the last 3 years. Shimer Square’s development offers a fitting example of what a true community-based developer can do with local support,” Hollenback said in a Thursday release. “This first phase of Shimer Square’s redevelopment will re-energize the heart of this beloved campus. We appreciate the community’s continued support and are truly privileged to bring this historic campus back to life, one phase at a time.”

“Today we commemorate the next great step in reconnecting Shimer Square to the heart of our community,” Mayor Carl Bates said in the release. “Our beloved campus will now see investment and opportunities that will bring in new residents and businesses into our community. I have fully supported GROWTH and their efforts on this campus and am extremely excited to see the redevelopment plan being realized.”

Shimer Square will cover the entire footprint of the former historic Shimer College, a 14-acre campus with a total of 17 buildings, former residential halls and instructional buildings solidly constructed between 1903 and 1975.

The first phase of the project (blue boxes) includes converting Hathaway Hall and Sawyer House to rental housing, repurposing Sawyer House as a Resource Center office and dismantling the Custodial Building to salvage materials.

Shimer College was incorporated as a female-governed Mount Carroll Seminary in 1853. The College evolved and closed its campus in Mt. Carroll in 1979.

Shimer Square’s total development budget exceeds more than $60 million over a series of phases. This will transform the campus into several diverse uses including housing, entertainment, dining, fitness, business incubation, and artist and community space, all rolled up into one sustainable, diverse, inclusive, equitable historical community asset built for the future.

The former campus of Shimer College in Mt. Carroll, Ill. (which closed in 1979) is being totally redeveloped by Rock Island-based Economic Growth Corp., into Shimer Square.

Creating 88 housing units

The redevelopment starting in 2022 will create a total of 88 units of housing and redevelop 5 of the 17 total buildings. Future phases are anticipated to provide additional housing, community, and commercial/ retail space for lease.

“Once GROWTH took title to the property in December 2018, our first commitment was to bring Mayfest back to the campus,” Hollenback said. “It only makes sense that three years later, after one intervening pandemic, we come back to Mayfest to update the community on our good news, and to assure the same community that GROWTH is working hard behind the scenes to advance the shared plans that are starting to be realized for this historic campus.”

Mayfest is an annual tradition over Memorial Day weekend in Mt. Carroll.

Before embarking on this effort, GROWTH reviewed all local, regional, and state plans and conferred with their authors to ensure Shimer Square’s alignment with relevant development initiatives.

As a community-based development organization, GROWTH is known nationally for how to get the “hard deals done,” its release said.” GROWTH first identifies its redevelopment strategy and then seeks the capital necessary to close on financing to start construction. Many times, this takes three or more years to accomplish and consists of multiple, complex layers of financing.

GROWTH’s strong collaboration led to many successes and milestones for Shimer Square’s redevelopment effort to get it where it is today:

  1. Awarded Nonprofit of the Year by NW Illinois Economic Development in March 2020 for its Shimer Square redevelopment plan
  2. Awarded State Historic Tax Credits by the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, 1 of 5 out of the entire State of Illinois
  3. Awarded Rebuild Illinois grant by Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, 1 of 11 projects awarded Rebuild Illinois grant funding throughout Illinois
  4. Awarded highest allocation in GROWTH’s history of State Affordable Housing Tax Credits awarded by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA)

GROWTH will have an informational table set up at Mayfest on Saturday, May 28th for people to meet and greet GROWTH staff and learn more about redevelopment efforts. For more information, visit and