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Spanning the Region

Thursday, July 1, 2004

St. Louis Report Available on Affordable-Housing Efforts

A new report on affordable-housing development activity is available from the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations (SLACO).

The organization spent a year collecting information from nonprofit affordable-housing developers in St. Louis city and county that participated in the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance's neighborhood support collaborative. The report tracks their activities from 1994 to 2004 and includes profiles of the organizations, maps and other information regarding their developments. The report also defines the types of affordable-housing development funding and finance.

The Enterprise Foundation provided funding for the report.

To find out more, call SLACO at (314) 533-9104.

Opportunity Returns Program Targets 10 Illinois Regions

Opportunity Returns is a new Illinois economic plan developed to restore economic opportunities to 10 regions in the state. Creating regions gives business, government, labor and civic leaders a way to address each region's specific needs.

In St. Clair and Madison counties, small and midsized companies received $33,000 in grants to train work force through the state's new Employer Training Investment Program. The grants are intended to create new jobs through targeted investment.

In East St. Louis and Venice, Ill., the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center and Black Butterfly Youth Foundation received grants for $37,000 and $34,000, respectively. The funds came from the state's Eliminate the Digital Divide program, which works to create technology centers in low-income communities. The centers will provide technology skills training, access to the Internet and other educational services for residents in the two cities.

Shawnee Community College received a $2.2 million grant to break ground on the new Metropolis Regional Education and Training Center. The center will help students and area workers upgrade their technology skills.

The southwest and southern regions will see more fuel for business growth through the Opportunity Returns plan; more than 90 specific projects have been announced.

For more information, visit

Economic Development Topic of Kentucky Workshops

The Kentucky Industrial Development Council offers workshops on creating successful local economic development programs. The workshops are designed for community leaders who want to learn how to retain and expand existing businesses while attracting new businesses, thus creating jobs and expanding the tax base for their community.

An upcoming workshop, "Financial Incentives for Business Development in Kentucky," will take place July 20 in Frankfort, Ky.

For information on this and other council events, visit

It's Mississippi MAJIC: Grants Fund Job Centers

The Mississippi Development Authority recently requested proposals from organizations interested in planning shared production or service centers, dubbed Make-A-Job Impact Centers (MAJICs). The state plans to award as many as 20 grants of up to $25,000 each.

Product and service technical experts from Mississippi's colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations and the private sector will use the grants to join with communities, small-business entrepreneurs and support organizations to plan MAJICs.

For more information, contact Whit Hughes of the Mississippi Development Authority at (601) 359-6714.

Southwestern Illinois Takes STEP in Right Direction

The Illinois State Treasurer's Economic Program (STEP) announced it has earmarked $104 million for low-interest loans to help stimulate the economy in southwestern Illinois.

STEP provides capital for companies to use in expanding business and creating or retaining jobs. For each full-time job created or retained, the treasurer can deposit up to $25,000 into the borrower's financial institution. That institution then will lend the money at below-market rates to the borrower.

Businesses, tourism projects and child-care centers are among those eligible for STEP loans.

STEP loans are available to both new and existing businesses. Loan money is deposited at the borrower's financial institution after the project has been approved. Financial institutions receiving STEP loan deposits are responsible for ensuring borrowers meet credit requirements.

For more information, visit