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Daily Journal
     August 21, 2020      #13-234 KDJ

Kankakee awarded $1.8 million state grant 

Daily Journal staff report

KANKAKEE — The state awarded $39.5 million in grants this week for 27 capital improvement projects throughout Illinois, including one in Kankakee.

The City of Kankakee was on the receiving end of $1.8 million through the Fast-Track Public Infrastructure Capital program facilitated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Recipient communities are required to use the funding for “public infrastructure” projects such as road improvements, public utility extensions and streetscapes.

The city plans to use the funding to continue the enhancement of downtown Kankakee, City Engineer Neil Piggush said.

“This grant will assist the city in providing better accessibility and investment into historically under-served areas of the city while continuing the enhancement of downtown in accordance with its previously adopted 2015 Bike Plan,” Piggush said in a press release.

Piggush said the project will also provide better access to the proposed Metro Bus Transfer Station in downtown Kankakee.

To be considered for funding, applicants were required to prove projects were located in an under-served area, promoted economic development for diverse business and could start within 90 days after being awarded.

The fast-track program was created by the state to provide emergency assistance for businesses and communities facing economic hardship during the COVID-19 public health crisis, according to State Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex.

“It’s critical that we continue to update our infrastructure to meet the needs of our residents,” Joyce said. “Making streets more accessible is a vital step toward improving safety and mobility in our community.”

The program is funded through a portion of the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois program that state lawmakers approved in 2019. 

"Investment aimed toward building modern infrastructure and fostering stronger and better-connected communities are at the center of our historic $45 billion capital plan," Gov. JB Pritzker said. "While COVID-19 continues to present extraordinary economic challenges, our planned infrastructure projects should not have to wait."

Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong said she was appreciative for Pritzker's prioritization of capital funds during the pandemic.

“Not only do these funds support infrastructure projects, but they create jobs,” she said.

DCEO’s acting director Michael Negron said there is a strong connection between infrastructure and economic development.

“Infrastructure is an enabler of economic development,” he said.

Wells-Armstrong thanked Piggush for leading the team that prepared the grant application and the DCEO “for believing in our vision.”

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