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Southern Illinois communities to get a portion of $22.5 million awarded to boost tourism

A total of $22.5 million was awarded to communities throughout the state to help boost tourism and support Illinois festivals and attractions.

Governor Pritzker joined with the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO), legislators and leaders in the tourism industry to award the grant funding for 89 total projects throughout the state of Illinois.

The money awarded for these tourism attractions and festivals is designed to support these projects and drive up tourism across the state.

“Illinois is the best place in the nation to visit, and now that people are finding that out through our marketing, our tourism economy is booming,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The Tourism Attraction and Festivals Grant program has been a vital part of that success by restoring and enhancing the great events across our state that draw visitors from around the world. When we invest in projects like these — it reverberates beyond just one event or exhibit. It benefits entire communities — from small business owners who get to attract more customers to families with young children who get to enjoy all that Illinois has to offer.”

There was an additional $7.5 million secured to add to the $15 million during the Illinois General Assembly legislative session earlier in January. The program is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Anyone looking for a great experience can find it in Illinois, from the best state fairs in the country to unique outdoor festivals, attractions, and museums,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “Thank you, Governor Pritzker, DCEO, and members of the General Assembly for making this funding possible that supports tourism and preserves the rich, diverse activities that make Illinois the best state to live and visit.”

“Whether people are traveling to Illinois to visit the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, take a drive down the historic Route 66, or check out the world-renowned architecture in Chicago, Illinois has it all,” said DCEO Director Kristin A. Richards. “The State of Illinois is committed to bolstering the tourism sector by supporting the best festivals and attractions in the country that will show visitors from near and far that Illinois is the best place to live, work and do business.”

$5 million of the $22.5 million was reserved for festivals. This will serve as economic drivers while bringing communities together, a release from Pritzker detailed. $17.5 million is supporting a broad range of other tourism-related projects such as attractions, museums, live performance venues, and more.

Of those awarded, hundreds of thousands of dollars were slated for projects in Southern Illinois. Those include…

  • The City of Carbondale was awarded $500,000 for improvements to Superblock, a city-owned sports multi-complex.
  • The City of Du Quoin was awarded $62,250 for funding for the Du Quoin Holiday Lights Fair.
  • The Greater Metropolis Convention & Visitors Bureau, INC. was awarded $106,350 for funding the Metropolis Superman Celebration and the Fort Massac Encampment.
  • The Southern Illinois Airport Authority in Murphysboro was awarded $142,500 to help funding for the Cascade of Colors event at the Southern Illinois Airport.

Grant awards range from $15,000 to $500,000, with an average award of $250,000 for a total of $22.5 million. A link to the full list of the recipients can be found here.

Source: Wsil TV