State government has set aside $15 million for a new university building in downtown Springfield.
University of Illinois Springfield officials are in the planning stages for the proposed building. It would be known as the “Innovation Center,” and would be part of a larger “Innovation District,” according to documents distributed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office.
University officials, though, have been scant on details so far. It’s unclear where exactly the building would go up and how much it would cost overall.
UIS is just one of several schools that’s getting a chunk of some $500 million in state capital funding overall. That money is aimed at building a network of public university-based “innovation” hubs: places designed to grow Illinois’ tech industry workforce and help companies get off the ground.
In all, the state has set aside cash to help build 15 such hubs, known collectively as the Illinois Innovation Network, from Chicago to Carbondale. Efforts among several public universities to raise additional private donations for the network are ongoing.
Illinois government's portion had been held up for several years, but now that it’s being released, Governor J.B. Pritzker said universities can start building those hubs.
“That will attract talent to our state from around the world, strengthening Illinois’ long-term economic vitality for generations to come," he told a crowd gathered for the funding announcement in Chicago.
Pritzker said a building like the one proposed by UIS would help create a statewide "technology ecosystem" that could rival places like Silicon Valley.
"Every person here...across our state should take pride at not only what's being achieved and what's been achieved already, but also what's on the horizon," he said. "The best is yet to come."
Meanwhile, UIS has been operating Innovate Springfield, described as a "social innovation and business incubator" for several years. It became one of the first hubs in Illinois Innovation Network in 2018.