MACOMB–(ENEWSPF)–December 16, 2009. Governor Pat Quinn today visited the future site of Western Illinois University’s Riverfront Campus to announce the renovation of approximately 60,000 square feet of space for the new campus and create 2,000 new jobs. The funding is part of the Illinois Jobs Now! capital plan, which was signed into law this summer by Governor Quinn, and will help revive the state’s economy by creating and retaining over 439,000 jobs over the next six years.
Despite having a population of more than 350,000 people, Western Illinois University-Quad Cities is currently the only public university in northwestern Illinois. Completion of the new Riverfront Campus will more than triple the university’s total enrollment. The project will also create 2,000 new jobs, generate a construction impact in excess of $125 million and more than 100 permanent new jobs at WIU.
“Strong universities are vital to Illinois’ students, families and workers,” said Governor Quinn. “Northwestern Illinois has long been underserved by our public university system. Thanks to Illinois Jobs Now!, we can fund projects like Western’s Riverfront Campus that will bring jobs to the Quad Cities, strengthen our education system and revitalize our economy.”
Today’s announcement provides funding for the renovation of the former John Deere Technical Center, the campus’ first of three buildings, which was donated to the university by the company. The space of approximately 60,000 square feet will include classrooms, instructional and computer laboratories, offices, faculty and student lounges and a reception and work area.
“I’d like to thank Governor Quinn for supporting this important capital bill. I also want to express our great appreciation to the legislature and to the many individuals and organizations in this community for their support. Our new campus will provide an important boost to the regional economy by attracting and graduating students who will be well-positioned to thrive in our ultra-competitive, global economy,” said WIU President Al Goldfarb.
“The Riverfront Campus will enhance educational opportunities in the Quad Cities and will create precious construction jobs,” said Jim Riemer, Executive Director of the Capital Development Board. “In addition, the building will be LEED Silver certified, which means it will incorporate some of the latest energy-saving technologies. Education, jobs, and energy savings – that’s a winning combination.”
According to the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, the annual economic impact of Western Illinois University-Quad Cities with a current enrollment of 1,360 students and 100 faculty and staff is over $10 million annually. A new 3,000-student, three-building campus will raise that value to more than $50 million annually and will double the number of college graduates to 500 annually.
Since taking office, Governor Quinn has accelerated the State’s issuance of bonds as part of his ongoing effort to put thousands of Illinoisans back to work. The State has already issued $400 Million in General Obligation Bonds to fund Jump Start road and bridge construction.
The Governor was joined by WIU President Dr. Al Goldfarb, Moline Mayor Don Welvaert, Senator Mike Jacobs and Representative Patrick Verschoore.