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May 28, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced more than $559,000 in grants to help 15 local groups develop tourism attractions, including funds to develop a NASA Challenger Learning Center near Marengo and an upgrade of displays at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site Interpretive Center.

"With the summer travel season upon us, it's important that local communities have the necessary resources to develop and maintain important exhibits and promote area attractions," Ryan said "These grants demonstrate our continuing commitment to enhancing Illinois' reputation as a popular travel destination."

The Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA) administers the Tourism Attraction Development Grant Program, which allows municipalities, counties and local not-for-profit groups to develop and improve tourist attractions. State funds may be used to improve an existing tourist attraction or develop a new attraction that has the potential to draw visitors from outside a 100-mile radius and generate overnight stays. Grants may also be used for feasibility studies and planning for new attractions and to fund interpretive programs.

Under the program, grants may be awarded to cover up to 50 percent of the cost of a tourism development project.

"These grants are an investment in our communities and an investment in our economy," DCCA Director Pam McDonough said. "By helping improve local tourist attractions, these grants are making communities more attractive to residents and visitors alike."

Senate Bill 739 was sponsored by state Senators Adeline Geo-Karis (R-Zion), Margaret Smith (D-Chicago) and state Rep. Andrea Moore (R-Libertyville). The legislation, strongly supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, takes effect January 1, 2000.

This round of Tourism Attraction Development Grants is from the Fiscal Year 1999 state budget.

(A list of the grant recipients is attached.)



  • The City of Springfield will receive a $100,000 grant for the design and development of various exhibits in all of the "Looking for Lincoln Heritage Tourism" communities.

  • The Lake County Museum will receive a $100,000 grant to fabricate and install a new 2,000 square foot "Bring the World Home" exhibit showcasing the Curt Teich Postcard Archives. The world renowned archives have been called "an outstanding collection of national importance" by the Smithsonian' National Museum of American History.

  • The Idea Adventures Children's Museum will receive a $100,000 grant for equipment and fabrication of the Challenger Learning Center, which is a highly acclaimed space program simulation facility. The Illinois site, which will be located in Marengo, will be a part of the 31 city network throughout the US and Canada that have passed the application process to obtain and run a Challenger Learning Center site.

  • The City of Benton will receive a $51,490 grant to purchase and renovate the building which housed the first automobile dealership in Franklin County. The building will serve as a museum devoted to early motoring in Illinois. The building itself is both architecturally and historically significant as a style used exclusively for automobile dealerships.

  • The Lincoln/Sargent Farm Foundation will receive a $48,160 grant to expand the interpretive program at the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site. This will result in longer hours at the Sargent Farm and Moore Home and extend the interpretation season into the spring and fall.

  • The "Looking for Lincoln Heritage Tourism" project will receive a $30,000 grant for a marketing and tourism study to provide an analysis of the economic impact attributable to the proposed Lincoln Library, assessment of hospitality services currently available and projected development that would result from an increase in tourists.

  • The Macon County Historical Society will receive a $21,511 grant to produce a historic video depicting the life of Abraham Lincoln in Macon County and to renovate a building to create a theater-like atmosphere for viewing the video. This project will establish a focal point for the "Looking for Lincoln Heritage Tourism" project within Macon County.

  • The Cahokia Mounds Museum Society will receive a grant of $21,500 for a new entrance mural and an upgrade of the Archaeological Dig Model within the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site Interpretive Center. The center was opened ten years ago, and the exhibits are in need of renovation.

  • The Living Legacy Farmstead, located in Mt. Carmel, will receive a $21,455 grant to restore farm buildings on the property to their original turn of the century style. The Farmstead is being developed into a "Fantasy Farm" attraction for tourists who want to experience life on the farm.

  • The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau will receive a $16,000 grant to hire a consultant to conduct a Visitor Services Study in preparation for the visitor center component of the Lincoln Presidential Center. The goal is to ensure that the new center provides the information visitors need and to determine the best practices of successful visitors information facilities.

  • The New Salem Lincoln League will receive a $15,008 grant to update and enhance the indoor theater lighting system in the New Salem Visitor's Center and the historic interpretation program in the New Salem Village. The new lighting system will add color schemes and lend a further air of professionalism to productions. The interpretation program funding will be used for the purchase of new material and clothing for the costumed interpreters and the hiring of additional interpreters.

  • The Menard County Tourism Council will receive a $15,500 grant to construct a tower and purchase and install equipment for a tourist radio station. The radio station will be used to inform the 600,000 annual visitors to New Salem about other area tourist attractions.

  • The Mt. Pulaski Township Historical Society will receive a $10,000 grant to replace the roof on the Mt. Pulaski Historical Museum and Visitors Center. The museum will serve as the area's visitors center for the "Looking for Lincoln Heritage Tourism" project and assist in directing visitors to other project communities.

  • The Friends of the Cedar Street Depot will receive a $7,700 grant to restore and move Lewistown's historic train depot from its present location on railroad property, to land owned by the depot organization. Upon completion, the depot will be designated as the Railroad Museum and Visitors Center for the area.

  • The Nauvoo Chamber of Commerce will receive $1,307 grant to enhance and complement a downtown parking lot/public restroom project currently under construction by the City of Nauvoo. The enhancements will include landscaping, benches, a water fountain, trash receptacles and picnic tables for use by tourists while visiting the local attractions.

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