$40 million grant opportunity released for ‘megasites’

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced a $40 million grant program to help businesses find and build on large development-ready areas known as “megasites” across the state, The competitive grant is open to governments, private businesses, or non-profits to support site development to attract large-scale industrial investments in under-utilized areas and former industrial sites.

“Major job creators are consistently looking for investment-ready sites they can get up-and-running in a short amount of time – and Illinois is home to some of the largest such sites in the country, all ripe for fresh development,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The new megasites grants will help communities innovate their own business attraction efforts and will spur economic development in communities across our great state.

“With sectors like clean energy and manufacturing rapidly expanding in the U.S., major job creators are looking for large, investment-ready sites to locate their growing businesses. By providing grants that enable entities to create investment ready sites, Illinois is increasing its competitiveness for large-scale investment.”

Funding will be issued through a competitive notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) and is open to private entities, non-profits, or local governments. Grants will range from $250,000 to $5 million – determined by acreage (up to $5,000 per acre). Eligible sites must contain at least 200 contiguous acres and applicants must own or have an agreement in place to acquire the property at the time of the application. The NOFO opportunity also requires 1:1 capital investment match.

Underserved areas and areas located in opportunity ones are prioritized through the application process, which allows for the developed sites to market additional incentives to potential business prospects.

Funding can be used on a variety of site development expenses, including infrastructure expenses such as roads, electricity, water, broadband and other utilities; site development expenses like grading and drainage, rehabbing existing structures, remediation and cleanup; and land acquisition and related expenses.

“Mega sites are a major draw for companies looking to locate or expand in Illinois and given our superior infrastructure and workforce there’s boundless investment opportunities throughout the state,” said DCEO acting director Kristin A. Richards. “Mega sites are akin to a turn-key house: move-in ready with zero hassle – which is exactly what fast-growing businesses are looking for.”

One of the goals is to attract jobs creators and revitalization for areas that are underutilized, such as former industrial sites, brownfields, and agricultural sites. Whether it’s an industrial park featuring various businesses, or a large facility dedicated to manufacturing soup to nuts, megasites are designed to spur development and create jobs in Illinois’ communities.

CNI Corp’s Pullman Park development is one example of a powerful community transformation, serving as home to the Method Soap Manufacturing facility, Amazon and Whole Foods Distribution Centers, Gotham Greens and more. The former shuttered factory site was developed in order to attract more than $700 million investment and creating more than 2,000 jobs.

“CNI’s Pullman Park Development went from a 180-acre brownfield to a new, green manufacturing and distribution hub,” said CNI Corp. president David Doig. “This area is now a model for economic development – creating more than 2,000 jobs – and it all began with a $10 million grant from the State.”

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