Durbin, Manzullo Secure $800,000 to Help Create Jobs, Improve Higher Education in Rockford

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Don Manzullo (R-IL) and announced today they have secured $800,000 in federal funds for two important initiatives to help create jobs and improve higher education in Rockford. The funding is included in the 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which the House and Senate are expected to approve in the next few weeks before sending to the President for his signature. Durbin and Manzullo each requested funding for the initiatives in their respective chambers and were successful in getting funding in the final bill. Funded projects include:


“Today’s bill provides a significant investment in Rockford’s economic future by creating jobs, developing infrastructure and strengthening the educational offerings of the community,” said Durbin. “I will continue to work with Congressman Manzullo to secure funding for projects that benefit Rockford and Northern Illinois.”


“These federal funds will go a long way to improve our residents’ lives on Rockford’s west side, provide better higher education opportunities, and help put people back to work where they belong,” Manzullo said. “I want to again thank Senator Durbin for his efforts to fight with me for this much needed federal funding for the people of Rockford.”


City of Rockford West Side Economic Development Initiative – Durbin and Manzullo secured $500,000 to help the City of Rockford pay for public infrastructure improvements (roads, sewer, stormwater and water) needed for the 57-acre mixed use Renaissance Project planned for Rockford’s west side. The $65 million development consists of a medical office building, ambulance facility, retail/restaurants, bank, pharmacy, and commercial office uses. Phase II of the development will include a $15 million fire station and training facility for the Rockford Fire Department. The initiative will provide much needed employment for west side residents as well as medical and urgent care currently not available in the area.


The infrastructure funding is the latest commitment Durbin and Manzullo have made to Rockford’s west side. In 2005, they, along with then-Senator Barack Obama, teamed up to secure $6.6 million for the West State Street Corridor Reconstruction Project in the multi-year federal transportation funding bill. Those funds will help offset costs of the $50 million project, which will widen and reconstruct West State Street from Rockton Avenue to Springfield Avenue. Lighting, landscaping, sidewalks and a multi-use bike trail would be added throughout the expansion.


Technology Upgrades at Rockford College – Durbin and Manzullo secured $300,000 to add fiber infrastructure, modernize library resources with technology and collaborative teaching environments, and equip science laboratories and a computer classroom to significantly enhance student learning at Rockford College. The unemployment rate in the City of Rockford is 14 percent, and the community lags behind the state in the numbers of residents with a 4-year higher education degree. Rockford College is the only 4-year higher education institution in Rockford and Winnebago County and the health of the college and the community are inextricably linked.