Pritzker announces $500 million in capital funds will be used to improve economic development

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NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker is backing up his plans to improve economic development in the state by introducing state-of-the-art technology to higher education.

On Wednesday, the governor announced the state is spending $500 million in capital funding on the Illinois Innovation Network and the Discovery Partners Institute. Those are made up of a number of research and innovation hubs that serve as magnets for technology and talent.

One of those hubs is Illinois State University, which will be receiving roughly $3 million to improve services for students.  

“Opportunity to grow is important,” said ISU grad student Dalton Williams. “If we are getting money to continue growth and allow more students to come and get valuable lessons here at school, then, don’t see any problem with that.”

The money will be used to help create an educational center on campus and a start up incubator in the soon to be constructed trail east building. 

“What we are trying to do here, as one hub within this Illinois Innovation Network, is really foster what we call an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation,” said ISU Spokesman Eric Jome. “We want students here to be able to develop a business plan, develop entrepreneurial skills and really kind of look to the future.”

Pritkzer says the $500 million investment, in this state-wide innovation effort, will help create a $19 billion return by 2030.

Students say every penny the school gets will help build on what they are learning in the classroom.

“I’m an education major here at ISU,” said ISU Junior Jennifer Ramirez. “I’m always about hands on activities, so anything that students can get experience working with, I feel as if it’s going to be beneficial for them.”

Pritzker says, with this investment, he expects the Illinois Innovation Network to create a total of 48,000 new economy jobs. 

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