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Pritzker announces $40 million grant program to promote development-ready ‘megasites’

Gov. JB Pritzker is pictured at a news conference in Chicago Monday at which he announced a new state grant program aimed at making large areas of land ready for broad commercial development.
Capitol News Illinois
Gov. JB Pritzker is pictured at a news conference in Chicago Monday at which he announced a new state grant program aimed at making large areas of land ready for broad commercial development.

Rebuild Illinois funds will be open to private, public, nonprofit entities

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday announced the creation of a $40 million grant program to incentivize the creation of large development-ready areas known as “megasites” across the state.

Megasites are large swaths of land, developed to attract businesses such as manufacturing plants, warehouses and distribution centers. Pritzker said developing these sites will help make Illinois more competitive, especially as sectors including clean energy and manufacturing are rapidly expanding in the U.S.

The Megasites Development Program announced Monday uses Rebuild Illinois capital funds aimed at providing the necessary infrastructure improvements to develop these megasites. Other eligible costs include various land acquisition, clean-up and development expenses.

“Illinois is home to some of the largest such sites in the country, all ripe for fresh development,” Pritzker said at a Chicago news conference. “The new megasites investment program grants will help communities innovate their own business attraction efforts and will spur economic development in communities across our great state.”

The program is open to private entities, nonprofits and local governments, and the application portal is open through April 6. Those receiving the grant must match each dollar granted by the state with other private or local funding.

Grant allotments would range from $250,000 up to $5 million, depending on the acreage of the site. Eligible sites must have at least 200 contiguous acres and applicants must own or have an agreement in place to acquire the property when they apply.

Kristin Richards, acting director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said the investment-ready sites may lure manufacturing and distribution hubs, or large scale one-stop shops that produce multi-part products within one location.

“I like to think of megasites as turn-key houses: move-in ready, with zero hassle, which is exactly what fast-growing businesses are looking for,” Richards said.

Intersect Illinois, an independent, not-for-profit economic development organization that often partners with state organizations including DCEO, announced their Vetted Sites Initiative alongside Pritzker at the Monday morning news conference.

The Vetted Sites Initiative, intended to aid businesses seeking out readily equipped property sites, would help businesses interested in moving to Illinois.

“The idea here is to identify large sites that can be brought up to speed quickly so that we can promote them across the country and even around the world,” Dan Seals, president of Intersect Illinois, said.

To help companies look for these “turn-key” locations in Illinois, Intersect Illinois has created a property finder that has more than 150 investment-ready sites in Illinois and a standalone guide with megasites over 1,000 acres.

Pritzker added that programs such as the Megasite Development Program are necessary to helping economic development as COVID-19 has eased up in recent years.

“As we’ve come out, I’ve been very aggressive. That’s not just in the last few months, that’s really over the last year and a half, two years, to make sure that we’ve got programs that are incentives for businesses, like Megasites,” Pritzker said. “Let’s prepare for them what they need.”

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide, as well as hundreds of radio and TV stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Nika Schoonover is a reporter at Capitol News Illinois, based in Springfield.
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