BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday that $6.6 million in Route 66 and Tourism Marketing grants were awarded to projects around the state.

According to an Illinois DCEO press release, 58 grants were awarded to attract visitors to drive along Route 66 and boost local tourism.

“Illinois truly is the middle of everything, as perfectly demonstrated by the hundreds of miles of America’s highway—Route 66 that travels through our state,” Pritzker said. “These grants will stimulate local economies across Illinois and highlight our growing EV sector, honoring the history of Route 66 and looking to the future.”

The Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau was awarded a $263,319 grant for:

  • Development, site preparation and installation of monument gateway signage in five communities along Route 66 in McLean County.
  • One Level 3 electric vehicle charger, including Route 66 design and installation.
  • Statewide Route 66 promotion.

These projects, developments and promotions are leading up to the 100th Anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.

According to 2021 data, Illinois welcomed 97 million visitors who spent more than $32 billion in the state.