WASHINGTON – Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced the department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3 million grant to the Watermark Auto Group Foundation in Marion to renovate the historic Citadel building to house the Entrepreneurial and Technical Opportunities (EThOs) business incubator.
This grant will provide a 21,000-square-foot facility for small business training and entrepreneurial resources, supporting an economy that has been impacted by the declining use of coal. The EDA investment will be matched with $775,304 in local funds and is expected to create 150 jobs and generate $750,000 in private investment, according to grantee estimates.
“The Biden Administration is committed to ensuring that our communities are provided with the resources they need to diversify and grow their economies,” Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo said in a release. “This EDA investment will create a place for entrepreneurs to level up their businesses and help boost U.S. competitiveness on the global stage.”
“The Economic Development Administration is pleased to support locally-driven strategies that are supporting businesses and creating jobs in Southern Illinois,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo said. “This project will not only revitalize a historic downtown building, but also provide new opportunities for entrepreneurs that will build regional economic resiliency for decades to come.”
“I’m grateful for the White House’s continued leadership in supporting coal communities as they transition into 21st century production, with this $3 million investment in Marion entrepreneurship serving as yet another step forward for southern Illinois,” Governor JB Pritzker said. “I’ve made the economic revitalization of this region a hallmark of my administration, and our continued efforts are stronger with the partnership of the federal government. By spurring further economic opportunity and private investment in Marion, we’re strengthening Illinois communities for generations to come.”
This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) initiative, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal. ACC projects support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.