"There is currently no comprehensive public university in northwest
Illinois. Just as people shouldn't have to leave Illinois in search
of quality, affordable health care, they shouldn't have to leave the
state in search of a quality, affordable education," Blagojevich
said. "WIU's Quad Cities Riverfront campus means more students will
be studying here in Illinois. Our elected leaders must not put
politics before critical investments in higher education that will
prepare our young people for better jobs with better futures."
Earlier this year, the governor supported a plan that would provide
more than $600 million for statewide higher education construction
projects. Republicans in the Illinois Legislature failed to support
a capital plan during the 2006 spring session. Without a
three-fifths majority voting in favor of the plan, the WIU Quad
Cities Riverfront campus will be unable to get any additional help
from the state.
In January, the governor announced $2.4 million in planning funds
for a major expansion project that will eventually allow the school
to grow into a comprehensive public university for the region. This
will more than double the number of students it serves in the Quad
Cities -- from 1,300 to more than 3,000. This will also provide a
major economic boost, with an estimated 3,800 direct and indirect
jobs created as a result of the campus expansion and other related
projects, according to Renew Moline.
The new campus, which will be located on 20 acres of land donated
by Deere & Company, will focus on high-tech education. The campus
will specialize in technology-oriented, business, health care and
education disciplines, in addition to offering a MBA program and
other programs that meet identified needs.
"I want to thank Governor Blagojevich for his investment in the
expansion of the Quad Cities Riverfront campus and for his strong
support for this important capital bill that will benefit the entire
region," said Western Illinois University President Al Goldfarb.
"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.
This project will also spark additional redevelopment on the
The city of Moline will also be revitalizing the area surrounding
the new campus into an Urban Technology Corridor. Adjacent to the
WIU Riverfront campus site is a vacant industrial warehouse site and
underused property that will be redeveloped into a Technology
Transfer Center, which will be formed to advance local research into
business development opportunities and other development.
"The expansion of Western Illinois University's Quad Cities
campus will not only have a profound educational impact on the
region, but it will be a critical economic engine for years to
come," said James Collins, director of the Corporate Citizenship
Center of Excellence for Deere & Company. "We have been pleased to
play a role in helping to move this project forward and encourage
community leaders, along with local and state public officials, to
continue working closely together to complete this expansion."
[to top of second column]
"The expansion of WIU's Quad Cities campus is a top priority of
this community and a tremendous key to supporting a strong, local
economy with more abundant job growth, which is why we must pass a
capital bill," said state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline. "Bringing
ambitious projects like this one to fruition requires a commitment
from top to bottom, and Governor Blagojevich continues to deliver
that commitment at the highest level. There is no greater friend of
the Quad Cities than this governor, who has consistently kept his
word by supporting a variety of efforts to help our region reach our
vast economic potential."
"Governor Blagojevich continues to show his unwavering commitment
to education in Illinois, and this capital bill is yet another
example of that," said state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Rock Island.
"Northwest Illinois' economic strength depends on the quality and
diversity of its work force, and, by enhancing the caliber of
education it offers its students, Western Illinois University will
play a more instrumental role in shaping a dynamic work force
capable of meeting the demands of the technology-driven, global
"Over the past three and a half years, Governor Blagojevich has
responded time and time again to the needs and the priorities of the
Quad Cities," said state Rep. Mike Boland, D-East Moline. "By
passing a capital bill and expanding WIU's campus, the university
will continue doing what it does best, and it will be able to more
than double the students it serves. This expansion will also be a
powerful economic engine for the entire region."
The $2.4 million in funding announced in January will be used to
complete the planning and design of the campus. After the completion
of the first building for business and technology programs, the
university hopes to also complete the construction of two new
buildings to accommodate additional students.
"Governor Blagojevich and I believe that investing in education
is the greatest key to building a stronger and better future for
Illinois," said Jan Grimes, executive director of the Capital
Development Board. "The Quad Cities offers a tremendous quality of
life, but, to attract and retain a dynamic work force and more
high-paying jobs, it needs to offer a comprehensive public
university as well. This capital bill will help make that happen."
The Capital Development Board manages the construction, repair
and renovation of state facilities across Illinois, including
colleges and universities, mental health facilities, veterans homes,
and historic buildings. Capital Development Board projects include
the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the new State
Emergency Operations Center, and the World Shooting and Recreational
Complex in Sparta.