Local organizations receive $600,000 to plan for and build a stronger economy

Grundy County has been chosen to receive a $600,000 nuclear communities grant from the US Economic Development Administration, a division of the US Department of Commerce. This grant was in response to the near-closing of Dresden Station last year, according to a press release from the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

MORRIS – The Grundy County community has been chosen for a federal grant to help county leaders strategically plan for the future and build more diverse, resilient economies. This grant was in response to the near closing of Dresden Station last year.

The Grundy Economic Development Council partnered with the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the North Central Illinois Council of Governments to apply for a nuclear communities grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Last week the organizations were notified they were approved for the $480,000 grant. The $600,000 project is also being supported with a $120,000 match by the Grundy County Board.

“Being reliant on one large industry or one big customer is just not good business,” GEDC President & CEO Nancy Norton said. “Thanks to the support from the Grundy County Board, we were able to apply for this grant which will provide important analysis and tools about how Grundy County can diversify and build a more resilient economy. Dresden Station will always be important to our community and hopefully will be open for years to come. But we learned our lesson last year, we need to be more prepared for the benefit of our county and its residents.”

State legislation in 2021 saved the nuclear plants, including Morris’s Dresden Station, and offers financial security for five years. While it is hoped through the next few years the financial state of the nuclear plants will continue to rise to extend the life of the local plants, this proved the urgency of preparing a plan for possible closures and decommissioning of the plants.

Dresden Station provides more than 800 direct jobs, and double that with indirect and induced area jobs. The station provides about $74 million in payroll annually, and another $24.4 million in property taxes supporting local schools and public services. In addition, Dresden and its employees contribute hundreds of thousands in donations and volunteer time to local organizations.

The project - Grundy County Nuclear Host Community Economic Resiliency Strategy – will research the best economic development options to leverage our highly skilled workforce and strategic assets to attract new investment and create quality jobs. Grundy County has always been a leader in energy and this grant will provide insights on how to continue its role with the advent of new energy technologies. The grant has a large public engagement component, encouraging the public and private sectors to be involved in charting the economy of the future. The ultimate goal is for the project to provide employment opportunities, spur private investment, and to serve as a catalyst for major growth.

“The grassroots effort that took place last year to help #savedresden was largely to the credit of Grundy County. While successful, it really put into perspective how close we came to losing Dresden Station and how it would’ve shuttered our community,” Chamber President & CEO Christina Van Yperen said. “This grant and project will allow us to not only protect our future but better it.”

The GEDC, Chamber, and NCICG are entering the initial stages of the project now that funding has been secured for what is expected to be a multi-year project.

For more information on the Grundy County Nuclear Host Community Economic Resiliency Strategy contact the GEDC at 815-942-0163 or the Chamber at 815-942-0113.

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