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September 18, 2006

Funds will Help College Pay for Increased Costs Associated with Natural Disasters, Higher Fuel Prices

HARRISBURG – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced up to $568,000 in new funding to Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg to complete its new addition to the Robert I. Gregg Technology Center.  The project will be competitively bid in the fall of 2006, and the additional funds will allow the college to begin construction on the facility by paying for increases in construction costs caused by recent natural disasters and higher fuel prices.
“These kinds of investments today will help prepare students in Southern Illinois for better, high-paying jobs tomorrow.  With this new technology center, Southeastern Illinois College will be able to help hundreds more men and women learn the technical skills they need to compete in the modern workplace,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
This project will greatly improve the space utilization of the existing facility, ease overcrowding and create a 20,000-square-foot addition to the center.  These changes will also allow the college to relocate allied health programs from other facilities both on and off campus and consolidate programs now housed in two separate temporary facilities, such as diesel technology, welding and game preserve management. 
The Robert I. Gregg Technology Center addition is currently estimated to cost nearly $5.85 million.  The state’s share is nearly $4.4 million, including the additional $568,000.  The local share of the project is $1,464,800, which includes a $189,300 match to the increased state funding.  The state project funding is being overseen by the Illinois Capital Development Board, which manages all state construction, repair and renovation projects.
The existing 25,400-square-foot building and the 20,000-square-foot addition will serve more than 500 students at the school.  The Robert I. Gregg Technology Center serves as the main Illinois Employment and Training Center in the region.

“Expansion of our technical facility enables Southeastern Illinois College to further its mission as a provider of vocational training and to continue to be a driving force in economic development in Southern Illinois,” said Southeastern Illinois College President Raymond V. Cummiskey.  “Through his Opportunity Returns program, Governor Blagojevich had the foresight to understand our need for a state-of-the-art technical facility to support our training efforts that in turn support industries in our service district and beyond.  This is a great example of what can happen when government leaders and educators partner in the best interest of a region.”    
“This grant is welcome news for our local students as they work towards continuing their education to compete for good paying jobs,” State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) said.  “This will not only benefit local students in the region, but this is a tremendous boost to the development of the workforce.  As a former student at SIC, I know how important the school, the faculty, and the entire student body are to Southern Illinois.”
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 ten 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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