Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3 million grant to the Watermark Auto Group Foundation, Marion, Illinois, to renovate the historic Citadel building to house the Entrepreneurial and Technical Opportunities (EThOs) business incubator.
This grant will provide a 21,000-square-foot facility for small business training and entrepreneurial resources, supporting an economy that has been impacted by the declining use of coal. The EDA investment will be matched with $775,304 in local funds and is expected to create 150 jobs and generate $750,000 in private investment, according to grantee estimates.
“The Biden Administration is committed to ensuring that our communities are provided with the resources they need to diversify and grow their economies,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This EDA investment will create a place for entrepreneurs to level up their businesses and help boost U.S. competitiveness on the global stage.”
“The Economic Development Administration is pleased to support locally-driven strategies that are supporting businesses and creating jobs in Southern Illinois,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This project will not only revitalize a historic downtown building, but also provide new opportunities for entrepreneurs that will build regional economic resiliency for decades to come.”
“I’m grateful for the White House’s continued leadership in supporting coal communities as they transition into 21st century production, with this $3 million investment in Marion entrepreneurship serving as yet another step forward for southern Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I’ve made the economic revitalization of this region a hallmark of my administration, and our continued efforts are stronger with the partnership of the federal government. By spurring further economic opportunity and private investment in Marion, we’re strengthening Illinois communities for generations to come.”
“Under the Biden Administration, Illinois communities are receiving the resources needed to thrive. This federal funding from the EDA will inject new life into Marion and support small businesses as they build themselves up,” said Senator Dick Durbin. “I’m eager to see Southern Illinois’ local economy grow with this investment and become more resilient.”
“As we look for ways to support and boost the economies in rural communities across our state, I’m pleased to help announce new resources that will contribute to the creation of local jobs, provide small business training and support entrepreneurs in Marion,” said Senator Tammy Duckworth.
This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) initiative, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal. ACC projects support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.
This award is a great example of what communities can do under EDA’s new American Rescue Plan programs; particularly the $300 million Coal Communities Commitment. This investment will ensure that coal communities have the resources they need to recover from the pandemic and will help create new jobs and opportunities, including through the development or expansion of a new industry sector. Effective May 26, 2022, EDA has officially closed all of its American Rescue Plan programs for applications. The $3 billion program funding will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022.
About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.