MCEDC awarded $75K grant

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The Monroe County Economic Development Corporation recently received a grant of $75,000 from the state of Illinois.

The announcement came last week from Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. MCEDC and 41 other recipients were awarded almost $3.5 million to “accelerate local economic recovery initiatives.”

The Research in Illinois to Spur Economic Recovery program is intended to help economic development organizations create or update economic plans for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

RISE is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act act.

“Cities, regions, towns and villages across Illinois understand the opportunities and needs of their own communities and the RISE program empowers them to collaborate and plan for improvements,” Pritzker said. “These grants will help communities craft economic development plans that reflect the specific impact of the pandemic on their region, with the opportunity to apply for funding to put the plans into action in the future.”

According to MCEDC Executive Director Edie Koch, her organization applied for the competitive grant in May.

Koch said these funds will be put toward a variety of areas required to put together a plan for Monroe County and nearby communities.

“The RISE grant will reimburse us for costs associated with developing or updating an economic recovery plan, including salaries or contractual costs, research, outreach and public meetings as well as expenses associated with administering the grant, such as meeting space rentals and printing,” Koch said.

She added regional plans like what RISE funds are meant to be used for would “promote much more coordination between individual plans put forth by individual communities” while helping to use resources in the area efficiently.

The RISE grant would also provide MCEDC the opportunity to apply for additional funds after plans involving tangible steps for the region are completed.

MCEDC has organized a number of programs over the years to fulfill its responsibility for business attraction and retention in the county.

Several such programs were put together to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic. Koch said the Community Navigator Program helped connect businesses with resources from Southern Illinois University.

“The bottom line is to get in, talk to the business, become familiar with it, seeing if they have any needs or challenges and taking it upon ourselves to get the right people to the table to help them solve them,” Koch said.

Most recently, MCEDC announced the rollout of its Listening to Business Program with a goal of helping local businesses “become more competitive and identify any impediments that discourage growth and local expansion,” a press release states.

“According to studies, existing businesses can account for up to 80 percent of all new jobs,” Koch said. “Helping our established companies to increase their competitiveness ensures that those firms will stay and expand in the region, thus providing more opportunities to the area.” 

This program was announced Sept. 16 and, according to the press release, will focus on reaching out and visiting current businesses to ensure they have the resources they need.

For more information on the MCEDC, call 618-939-8681, ext. 309, or visit mciledc.com.

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