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June 16, 2005

Opportunity Returns Investments Total $580,000 for Key Regional Project

CHICAGO – Continuing his efforts to support key regional projects identified through his Opportunity Returns strategy in Southwest Illinois, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced an additional $300,000 for the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower being built by the Village of Hartford.  The 180-foot observation tower is being built as a memorial to the Lewis and Clark Expedition and to capitalize on the region’s historic resources to grow the hospitality and tourism industry by bringing thousands of new visitors to the region each year.
“Tourism plays a very significant role in the growth of our state’s economy and, through Opportunity Returns, we’re building our tourism assets in Southwest Illinois and throughout the state.  The Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower will not only be a superb tribute to two of our nation’s most adventurous explorers, but it will support the local economy by bringing countless new guests to the region that will support local businesses,” Gov. Blagojevich said. 
The Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower is being constructed near Camp Dubois, the replica camp where Lewis and Clark prepared for five months before their epic journey.  The tower will complement the existing Lewis and Clark Visitor’s Center and reconstructed Camp Dubois, as well as provide visitors with a birds-eye view of the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
“Tourism plays an important role in our region’s economy, and Gov. Blagojevich made a commitment to help it grow through his Opportunity Returns strategy.  By partnering the Village of Hartford with the State of Illinois, the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower will be an important tourism landmark for Southwest Illinois,” said State Representative Dan Beiser (D-Alton).
“Southwest Illinois has several Lewis and Clark historical destinations and the new Confluence Tower will make an important visual statement to reinforce the tourism sites our region offers.  I’m thankful for Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns support which played a key role in helping this project forward,” State Senator William Haine (D-Alton) said.
Gov. Blagojevich announced a preliminary $280,000 grant for building the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower when he unveiled his Opportunity Returns economic development strategy in the Southwest region in December of 2003.  The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is administering the state’s support.
“Through his Opportunity Returns strategy, Gov. Blagojevich has made a commitment to improve every region of the state, and the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower will be an important new destination that will bring new visitors that will support new jobs throughout the region,” DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.
Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history.  Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges.  Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses.  It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs.  Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.


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