New $1.4 million Delta Regional Authority investment to boost regional, state economy

Southern Illinois will benefit from $1.4 million in new investments by the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) that state Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) says will boost regional infrastructure, the local workforce and the economy. The investments by the DRA will go to support public and private partnerships, bringing to Illinois an estimated $22.7 million in new investments.

“This is a tremendous partnership between the state of Illinois and the Delta Regional Authority that will benefit not only Southern Illinois through increased business growth, greater employment opportunities and improvements to local infrastructure, but the impact of this investment will extend throughout the entire state,” said Sen. Fowler who has had a close working relationship with the DRA as Mayor of Harrisburg and since joining the Illinois State Senate. Fowler graduated from the DRA Delta Leadership Institute in 2009 is currently a member of the DRA Delta Leadership Network.

According to the DRA, the investments will be directed to seven projects intended to spur job growth, contribute to community revitalization efforts and provide better health care services for Southern Illinois.

“This investment from the Delta Regional Authority is vital to southern Illinois and particularly those residents living in rural communities throughout the region,” Fowler noted. “However, the impact of this partnership and support from the DRA is far-reaching—there is no doubt this investment will improve the lives of residents throughout Illinois.”

DRA Illinois economic investment projects include:

1.      CAIRO: Bunge Road Facility Improvements. DRA Investment: $161,560. Total Investment: $178,860. DRA’s investment will support road improvements at 34th Street and Commercial Avenue. The road is extremely deteriorated and must be repaired to allow employees and customers access to an oilseed production facility. The deteriorated roadways create difficult conditions for truck traffic and create safety and liability issues for the oilseed facility, trucking companies and the City of Cairo. 

2.      CAIRO: Improved Access for Patients. DRA Investment: $118,489. Total Investment: $130,989. Community Health & Emergency Services, Inc. (CHESI) will strengthen and improve its information technology infrastructure to support an Electronic Health Record system to give patients access to medical records and telemedicine. CHESI will add a patient portal that will allow patients to access their own medical records, retrieve lab results, prescriptions and health education, appointment schedules and referrals. The system will be available to residents in seven rural counties in Southern Illinois.

3.      VILLAGE OF GOREVILLE: East Gore Street Improvements. DRA Investment: $105,000. Total Investment: $1,000,000. DRA’s investment helps deliver significant improvements to East Gore Street to support establishment of a new construction supply business and lumber yard within the Village of Goreville. The project will widen the street and increase load limits to support increased truck traffic for the new business.

4.      CITY OF ELDORADO: Water and Sanitary Sewer Improvements. DRA Investment: $206,000. Total Investment: $524,917. The city will use DRA funds to relocate water and sewer mains in preparation of Ferrell Hospital’s expansion and modernization. The relocation project – in the areas of Maple, Glenwood and Grant Streets – is a critical component to support the hospital’s proposed expansion.

5.      CITY OF BENTON: Franklin Hospital District Digital Mammography Upgrade. DRA Investment: $140,404. Total Investment: $156,305. This upgrade will meet the healthcare needs of patients in distressed areas. The hospital will modernize its imaging department by replacing the current analog breast imaging system with digital capabilities, an upgrade that is necessary to meet federal, state and American College of Radiology certifications for continued operation and service.

6.      CARBONDALE: Southern Illinois University (SIU) Medicine Building. DRA Investment: $113,218. Total Investment: $15,231,457. This project will provide educational/job training equipment for a 44,842-square-foot Family Residency and Physician’s Assistant Training Center (SIU Family Practice) that will be built. SIU is partnering with Southern Illinois Healthcare on the new training center, which will combat the shortage of primary care providers in the area.

7.      CITY OF BENTON: Construction in Rend Lake Conservancy District. DRA Investment: $515,000. Total Investment: $5,460,794. The district will build a second discharge pipe from its water treatment plant to add community capacity and allow it to support 170,000 customers in five rural counties. This project is funded through DRA’s Community Infrastructure Fund and will maintain proper water pressure for customers and ensure adequate distribution during peak-usage periods.

The DRA noted that the investments were made through the DRA States’ Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP), which is the agency’s main federal funding program that invests in basic public infrastructure, transportation infrastructure and workforce development projects.

According to a statement from the DRA, the agency coordinates directly with state planning and development districts to implement the programs. In addition, the agency also works closely with the Governor and his board designee to identify projects to receive SEDAP investments, which are aligned with state economic development goals. These federal investments require a minimal investment of state funds that can bring a large return in DRA and other agency funding and result in a greater economic impact for Southern Illinois.

The DRA also noted that Illinois was one of eight states to receive DRA investments. The agency’s total investments in the Mississippi River Delta Region and Black Belt of Alabama will reach $20 million in 2017. With contributions from public and private partners, total investments will be $231.6 million.

Dale Fowler

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