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August 25, 2003

State Agencies to combine programs to rejuvenate Southern Illinois area

TAMMS ‑‑ Governor Rod Blagojevich designated today Alexander County as a Team Illinois site. Team Illinois is a State initiative that forges partnerships between State agencies and communities to address and resolve challenges the area faces.


"Earlier this summer, we launched Team Illinois in Pembroke and within a few short days, through state assistance and the dedication of the community, Pembroke now has amenities and services, such as a revitalized park, computer centers, and road maintenance repairs, that didn’t exist," said Gov. Blagojevich.  “Working together we can improve the quality of life for all Illinoisans,” said Gov. Blagojevich to Alexander County civic and business leaders assembled at the Old Depot in Tamms.


Gov. Blagojevich created Team Illinois to build stronger infrastructures, to achieve economic revitalization and to build a foundation for future growth. The program re-directs existing state resources to effect change in challenged communities.


Once a bustling commercial link between north and south and east and west, Alexander County is close to both the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Through the Tamms depot, the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad moved people and goods between the river towns and the rest of the state. "For decades, the county's commercial vitality allowed Illinois to thrive. Today it is Illinois' turn to help Alexander County thrive," said Gov. Blagojevich.


Housing some of the poorest communities in the state, Alexander County was chosen by the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Team Illinois lead agency, as the second of four priority areas. Along with giving concentrated assistance from state agencies, Team Illinois will also create public‑private partnerships and empower community stakeholders.


"Alexander County is a perfect example of how the concentration of State resources can help overcome local challenges," said Dr. Carol L. Adams, DHS Secretary. "We look forward to working with the communities in Alexander County to identify and tackle the obstacles that stand between them and brighter economic times."


In the coming weeks, TEAM Illinois will hold a stakeholders forum to hear residents’ concerns and hopes, and help define ways in which the State can assist the communities of Alexander County in addressing its most pressing needs. State officials have met with local elected officials and community leaders to determine broad priorities.


In early October, TEAM Illinois will hold a 3-day resource fair that will bring the State’s resources directly to the people of Alexander County.   


Community leaders view health care, infrastructure and education as among the most important challenges the County faces in order to foster economic development.


"Our history demonstrates our potential as an economic and tourist center," said

John A. "Andy" Clarke, chairman of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners. "We offer some of the most beautiful natural sites in Illinois, and we need to make our infrastructure and educational institutions as attractive to business and visitors as our natural setting.


"Our potential can be realized through infrastructure changes that can accommodate growth and through an expansion of our healthcare services, which are vital to residents and business."


The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which is also part of Team Illinois, is committed to helping create conditions that make Alexander County more conducive to business activity and more economically viable for its residents.


"We want businesses to consider Alexander County when they look for a site to relocate or expand," said Jack Lavin, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development. "We want people to view Alexander County as a good place to live and work. “


Team Illinois' other three priority areas are Pembroke Township, Savanna and Aurora's East Side.







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