Stadelman delivers $2.5 million toward proposed downtown innovation

ROCKFORD -- State Senator Steve Stadelman has secured $2.5 million in matching funds pivotal to a $100 million transformation of dated three- and four-lane downtown roads into safer, more inviting and user-friendly two-lane streets with dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lanes and parallel parking.

Stadelman designated the state match from the Rebuild Illinois capital program when the General Assembly approved its new budget last week in Springfield. The state's contribution is a key part of a $22.5 million federal grant application that would combine with private investment to bring at least $100 million in improvements to the region's urban core. A previous application for a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant that lacked a state match failed to receive approval of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"Without Senator Stadelman's support, Rockford's application would not be in a strong position to win," said Bryan Davis, vice president of Government Affairs for SupplyCore, a private-sector partner. "The state's financial commitment greatly adds to the chances of Rockford prevailing in a very competitive federal grant program that doles out $1 billion annually."

The proposed Downtown Rockford Complete Streets Project calls for reconstruction of the one-way Jefferson and Chestnut streets, reducing the number of lanes reserved for motor vehicles to slow traffic and reduce crashes. Bicycle and pedestrian lanes with a median and parallel parking would be added. The grant also would pay for the "circulator route" of electric buses looping downtown every 15 minutes.

Stadelman called the Complete Streets proposal a "visionary leveraging" of an estimated $1 billion in urban renewal efforts that span 20 years from the restoration of the landmark Coronado Theater to the conversion of the abandoned Amerock factory into a high-rise luxury hotel.

"If the return is an additional $100 million, the state is making a smart investment with its $2.5 million contribution," Stadelman said. "Not only does this proposal improve traffic safety, it literally ties together the many large and small public and private investments that have contributed to the rebounding downtown we know today. That synergy is important because the economic fortune of our whole region depends on Rockford's prosperity, which depends on the continued evolution of downtown."

Chestnut Schematic

The full local match approaches $9 million with another $5.5 million coming from municipal funds and $900,000 from Rockford Mass Transit District.

During last week's special legislative session, Stadelman also secured $2.5 million in capital funding for upgrades to the BMO Harris Bank Center and $2.5 million for renovations at Davis Park, both downtown along Chestnut.

"Having an exciting downtown where people want to live, work and play benefits everyone," Stadelman said.

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Stadelman annouces Rock Cut reopening 

State Senator Steve Stadelman today announced that Rock Cut State Park is now open so people looking for a safe recreational outlet during the COVID-19 pandemic can enjoy hiking, biking and other outdoor activities.

Stadelman worked with Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan and representatives of Gov. JB Pritizker's administration to include Rock Cut among 24 state parks initially scheduled to open May 1. Those discussions led to 35 additional state parks reopening today, including Rock Cut.

"I thank Director Callahan and the governor's staff for taking another look at its criteria for reopening state parks," Stadelman said. "Rock Cut is among this community's most treasured public assets, and its size allows plenty of space for people to enjoy nature while maintaining social distance. In these trying times, the ability to move around and be outdoors is a welcome relief."

Rock Cut covers 3,092 acres. Guidelines for safe use of state parks can be found at the IDNR website


Stadelman calls for more funds for local health agencies

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Stadelman: Illinois needs to implement Work-Share law now

A law passed by State Senator Steve Stadelman could be put to work to ease the pain for businesses and employees during tough economic times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The law also would allow Illinois to collect millions of dollars in federal funding for states that have "work-share" programs.

The only thing standing in the way is a lack of rules needed to guide the law's implementation, rules that never were written by former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

Stadelman's legislation in 2014 changed how unemployment benefits are paid in Illinois, potentially reducing layoffs and improving state finances. It created work-share benefits, which are meant to assist struggling employers, allowing them to temporarily reduce employee hours rather than lay off workers.

At the same time, workers can collect partial unemployment compensation while staying on the job part time. Work-share also would help Illinois save money by not having to pay full benefits for employees drawing unemployment compensation.

"The value of work-share cannot be over-emphasized," Stadelman said. "In this uncertain time, employees who otherwise face layoffs would gain a sense of security, and businesses would avoid having to let skilled workers go."

Research from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute estimates work-share could prevent up to 124,000 in COVID-19 layoffs in Illinois and save the state over $1 billion dollars in unemployment insurance payments. According to the institute's Frank Manzo, the federal government will fully reimburse any state for its work share program.

“Under the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, the federal government is, with some stipulation, fully reimbursing states for their work-share programs,” Manzo said in an April 7 article. “It is free money for the states that currently have these programs.”

Similar laws are in place in 29 other states. Under the Illinois law, partial benefits would be paid when a business cuts hours for at least 10 percent of its staff and shares the remaining work among affected employees.

“Businesses get to keep already-trained employees on staff, and employees get to keep their jobs while collecting partial benefits until they return to work full time,” Stadelman said.

At a Thursday news conference, Gov. JB Pritzker said he supports the work-share program. Stadelman is now urging the Pritzker administration to write the rules needed for work-share to go into full effect. ‚Äč


State contributes $250,000 to United Way's local relief fund

State Senator Steve Stadelman helped direct $250,000 from the Illinois' COVID-19 Response Fund to the United Way of Rock River Valley to support local nonprofit groups assisting individuals and families adversely affected by the pandemic.

"We were honored to be chosen" from only 30 organizations statewide that are providing COVID-19 relief at the local level, United Way staff said in a newsletter this week. "Using the ICRF's gift ... we made our first round of grant allocations to local non-profit organizations that are best suited to meet our region's greatest needs."

United Way, which established its Emerging Needs Fund with an anonymous $10,000 donation, announced in its newsletter that almost $550,00 has been raised so far. A list of first-round grant recipients can be found here.


Feeling overcome by the many sources of stress in your life right now?

If your level of worry seems abnormally high, the Illinois Department of Human Services has a free emotional support text line. Reach out for help. Text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0.


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State releases new guidelines for claiming unemployment benefits

People filing claims for unemployment benefits in Illinois are being asked to adhere to an alphabetized schedule because of overwhelming phone and internet traffic.

The state's Department of Employment Security is also issuing a reminder that the day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not affect whether claims are approved or benefit amounts.

Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which claimants were laid-off or let go from their jobs due to COVID-19. More information is available at the IDES website.

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Stadelman, West highlight emergency grants and loans for small businesses

State Senator Steve Stadelman and State Rep. Maurice West today detailed three new emergency assistance programs geared toward providing immediate economic assistance to small businesses in communities across Winnebago County that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The economy in this community is driven by small businesses, and small businesses are often owned and run by a single individual or family," Stadelman said during a media opportunity at Salamone's restaurant in downtown Cherry Valley. "As we continue to see corporate investment at the federal level, it’s refreshing to see the state of Illinois prioritizing these businesses and recognizing that their needs are significantly different than the needs of massive corporations during this uncertain time.”

Added West, "We're moving in uncharted territories at this time, and it's important for the government to provide support as much as possible. I want to make sure all of our businesses in the Rockford region apply for the programs they are eligible for."

Stadelman and West were joined restaurant owner Rosalie Salamone, who shared the impact of the global health crisis on her family's business.

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Hospitality Emergency Grant Program

To help hospitality businesses make ends meet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is launching the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program. Bars, restaurants and hotels can access $14 million in grants to support working capital (rent, payroll and other accounts payable), job training (such as new practices related to take out, delivery and sanitation) and technology enabling new operations.

Bars and restaurants that generated between $500,000 and $1 million in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $25,000, and bars and restaurants that generated less than $500,000 in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $10,000. Hotels that generated less than $8 million in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $50,000. Funding for the new program comes from money originally budgeted for tourism promotion, job training and other purposes.

Application deadline is 5 p.m. April 1.

Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program

To support small businesses in downstate and rural counties across Illinois, DCEO is repurposing $20 million in federal funds to establish the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program. This Fund will offer small businesses of up to 50 employees the opportunity to partner with their local governments to obtain grants of up to $25,000 in working capital. These grants will be offered on a rolling basis.

Application period opens March 27.

Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

The $60 million program will support low-interest loans of up to $50,000 for small businesses in every industry outside of Chicago. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply. Successful applicants will owe nothing for six months and then begin making fixed payments at 3-percent interest for the remainder of a five-year loan term.

Application period opens March 27.

To submit applications or obtain additional information on the three programs, visit the DCEO website.

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 34th District
121B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8022
District Office:
200 S. Wyman St., Suite 301
Rockford, IL 61101
(815) 987-7557
(815) 987-7529 FAX