After two years of anticipation, the city of Robinson has finally secured a $1.493 million federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
The grant will help fund roadway, sewer and water infrastructure improvements to the Robinson Chamber of Commerce-owned Ridgway Industrial Park, which will help alleviate heavy flooding in the area. According to grantee estimates, the project is expected to create 700 jobs and generate $70 million in private investment.
"The Robinson Ridgway Industrial Park project is a good example of what can happen when local, state and federal government work together for the purpose of economic development," said Bob Berty, executive director of the Crawford County Development Association. "This grant will not only enable the CCDA to develop the Ridgway Industrial Park for marketing, but should improve the surface water problems that have long plagued this area and other parts of the city."
The Crawford County Development Association has been working with the Greater Wabash Regional Planning Commission since 2008. Sarah Mann from GWRPC, who submitted the grant on behalf of the city and CCDA, as well as University of Illinois Extension grant writer Barbara Webster, William Warren from the EDA and Carolyn Brown Hodge from Consulting LLC, were all instrumental in securing the grant.
The grant will provide much-needed funding for the $1.991 million storm-sewer project near the 72-acre Ridgway Industrial Park. Berty said the grant will also likely fund other infrastructure improvements in the residential area on Reed Street and Locust Lane, where storm water drainage is a problem as well.
"Mitigating the effects of natural disasters and aiding in the prevention of future disasters is a top priority of the Obama Administration," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "This EDA grant will make the vital infrastructure improvements needed to keep businesses open and people working at the Ridgway Industrial Park in the event of future flood events."
Infrastructure development in the industrial park would provide access to eight lots in the park.
Now that the grant has been approved, improvements will include the extension of West Mulberry Street with 30 feet of new concrete pavement curb, 2,140 feet of water main, 3,000 feet of sanitary sewer main, one duplex sanitary pumping station and 5,114 feet of storm sewer.
"This park is critical to the economic health of Crawford County," said U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson. "I don't agree with many of the ways the federal government is spending money these days, but this need is vital. This is true stimulus. Without this help, the park's future would be uncertain, as would many jobs in this area."
A whole team of state and local representatives, and city officials worked together to find funding for the project. Berty acknowledged several local officials who helped secure the grant, including Mayor Roger Pethtel, City Engineer Jeff Hillard, Administrative Assistant Laquita Hasty, and Robinson Chamber Administrator Mary Kindt. Representatives Roger Eddy, Tim Johnson and Dick Durbin along with area DCEO representative Josh Weger also assisted with the grant.
Robinson became eligible to apply for the 25/75 matching grant when the state declared the city a "disaster area" after flooding severely damaged the industrial park in 2008. The grant will help provide sufficient water capacity and diminish ongoing flooding that will continue if improvements aren't made.
"This also would not have been possible without all the hard work of the city of Robinson, the Chamber of Commerce, development officials and the Greater Wabash Regional Planning Commission," Rep. Johnson said. "They put this proposal together and I'm happy to be a part of making it happen."