Lee County approves funding for theater, development grant opportunities

The exterior of The Historic Dixon Theatre, seen from its front entrance at 114 S Galena Ave, Dixon,

DIXON – The Lee County Board approved earmarking $175,000 for potential grant opportunities that would benefit the Dixon Historic Theatre and a development area south of Rochelle.

The Dixon Historic Theatre is applying for a $1.5 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant for structural improvements to the century old facility, and the Dixon City Council agreed to fund $100,000 toward the $300,000 local grant match.

The County Board signed off with committing $100,000 toward the grant match Thursday, and the theater would cover the remaining amount.

If successful, the grant would fund a new roof, tuckpointing with the exterior, and other improvements.

The City Council gave the theater $200,000 last year to go toward event programming with the goal of relaunching the theater with a strong opening season and budgeted $100,000 this year for events in addition to the grant match.

The county is also helping pursue a different EDA grant to perform an economic development study of an area south of Rochelle.

For several years, the City of Rochelle and Greater Rochelle Economic Development Corp. have been investing millions of dollars building up infrastructure and expanding the city’s rail system south into Lee County, opening around 1,000 acres of land near Steward for new development.

The study would develop a master plan for the area and address concerns from residents. It would include looking at transportation conditions and trends as well as workforce needs, engineering designs, and traffic routing and congestion.

The Black Hawk Hills Regional Council would apply for the $250,000 grant, which requires a 50% local match. The Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone board agreed to pay $50,000, and Lee County will cover the remaining $75,000.

The county would pay both matches from its American Rescue Plan Act fund.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.