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June 1, 1999

Governor Announces $1 Million In Private Sector Tourism Grants; Includes Money For John Deere Classic

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced more than $1 million in Tourism Private Sector Grants to help local governments and not-for-profit organizations manage the cost of attracting and hosting major events.

"Every year, more people choose Illinois as a destination for leisure travel," Ryan said. "Helping local communities attract major trade shows, conventions and sporting events, is an important part of our efforts to support the state's $20 billion tourism industry. These grants provide a great opportunity to showcase different regions of Illinois while promoting economic development."

The award includes a $505,540 grant to help promote the first John Deere Classic PGA golf tournament at the new Tournament Players Club at Deere Run in Silvis. The grant will help pay for regional and national advertising, marketing and planning and production costs associated with the 2000 John Deere Classic, set for July 24 to 30, 2000. The event is expected to draw up to 100,000 visitors to the Quad-Cities, along with players and their families. CBS-TV has committed to airing the final two days of the tournament in 140 countries, with an anticipated viewing audience of 220 million households.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs administers the Tourism Private Sector Grant Program. The grants cover up to 50 percent of the eligible costs with remaining expenditures financed by private or local funds.

"Illinois hosts world-class events every year, but bringing those events to our state costs money," DCCA Director Pam McDonough said. "These grants help Illinois effectively compete for major events that both improve our quality of life and power up our economy."

The Tourism Private Sector Grant Program was created in 1994 to help fund events with a potential for generating significant economic growth. The program has distributed more than $12.88 million in grants including support for the World Cup Soccer tournament and the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

The other four Illinois organizations receiving grants include:

OAT, Inc. which will receive $325,000 for costs associated with hosting the National High School Finals Rodeo July 24-30, 2000, in Springfield. The National High School Finals Rodeo is the largest rodeo in the world, with approximately 2,000 competing high school athletes and an estimated 65,000 guests and spectators visiting the Springfield area during the competition. This is an event focused on the development of sportsmanship, horsemanship and character in youth.

The Illinois Motorcycle Dealers Association which will receive $90,000 for costs associated with hosting the Fifty Miler Race following the DuQuoin Magic Mile July 25 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. Illinois has not hosted a fifty-mile motorcycle race since 1963. The addition of this new race will focus national media attention on the sport of dirt track motorcycle racing and one of its premier venues, the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.

Springfield Area Convention and Visitors Bureau which will receive $55,000 for costs associated with hosting the 2000 Farm Progress Show Sept. 26 - 28, 2000, in Cantrall. One of the largest farm shows in the United States, the 2000 event has the potential of being one of the biggest in the show's history, drawing up to 300,000 visitors to the Springfield area.

Macon Speedway which will receive $27,000 for costs associated with hosting the 1st Annual 600 Outlaw Mini-Sprint Nationals over Labor Day weekend, September 4 - 5, 1999. This will be the first time that a national motorsports event of this type has been attempted in Illinois. The race is already drawing interest from drivers in 20 states. With the rising popularity of NASCAR and racing in general, the mini-sprint race has the potential to attract fans from throughout the United States.


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