Capitol Briefs: Pritzker touts manufacturing training funding, announces cultural districts

Capitol Briefs: Pritzker touts manufacturing training funding, announces cultural districts

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS
news@capitolnewsillinois.com

Gov. JB Pritzker was in Normal Tuesday to call attention to recent state funding for manufacturing training academies – including at Heartland Community College. 

The governor and college officials celebrated the new 45,000-square-foot facility that opened in January. It includes remodeled space to support programs such as robotics, HVAC, welding and digital media, as well as a newly constructed EV lab.

It was partially funded with a $7.5 state investment in a previous fiscal year from the Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure program. The state at the time also allocated $7.5 million for a similar facility at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville. 

 

At the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, Gov. JB Pritzker announces 10 neighborhoods in Chicago, Springfield and Champaign will be designated “cultural districts.” (Capitol News Illinois photo by Andrew Adams)

 

The training academy program was designed to develop advanced manufacturing training centers to house programs such as electric vehicle technology, renewable energy and robotics. State leaders said a goal was to help community colleges prepare the workforce for area industries – such as EV manufacturer Rivian in Bloomington – and create partnerships between community colleges, businesses and economic development organizations. 

Pritzker’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2025 would include another $24 million in infrastructure funding for similar projects at other community colleges.  

“Heartland now serves as a model,” Gov. Pritzker said at the ribbon cutting Tuesday. “That’s why in the budget that I proposed last week, I’ve proposed an investing another $24 million for manufacturing training academies so that other communities can benefit from the trail that you’re blazing right here in central Illinois.”

 

Cultural districts

At the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture on Monday, Gov. JB Pritzker and other government officials announced the creation of 10 “cultural districts” in Chicago, Champaign and Springfield. 

These cultural districts include ethnic enclaves in Chicago and historically Black neighborhoods in Champaign and Springfield.  

 

 

The program, outlined in a 2021 state law that passed with bipartisan support, allows the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to provide technical assistance and grants to neighborhoods that have been historically impacted by gentrification, displacement and economic disinvestment. 

Puerto Rican Cultural Center Executive Director Jose Lopez – who Pritzker described as the “godfather” of Puerto Rico town – said in addition to spurring economic growth, the designations send a political message. 

“Our very humanity is prefaced on the incredible differences that we have here, that we have in this room, in this city, in this state and in the United States,” Lopez said Monday “This designation is a counter narrative to the politics of hate and division.” 

Five more districts will be designated in 2025, with a focus on downstate and rural communities, according to the governor’s office. Districts will be eligible to apply for $3 million in funding once the final districts are selected. 

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

 

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