PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) — An item buried deep within Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposal could greatly delay progress on the planned Peoria Innovation Hub in downtown Peoria.
Last December, OSF HealthCare, the University of Illinois System, Illinois Central College and the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council announced plans for the new Peoria Innovation Hub in the 53,000 square foot Thomas Building, 201 SW Adams in downtown Peoria. The building is located within a federal Opportunity Zone.
The innovation hub will serve as a research center for autonomous transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, and agriculture. The building would also include a rooftop greenhouse, co-working space for entrepreneurs, and a virtual classroom connecting the Hub to other U of I System facilities.
The Peoria Innovation Hub is part of the Illinois Innovation Network, a statewide initiative underpinned by the University of Illinois’ Discovery Partners Institute, a new research and education center slated for construction on Chicago’s South Side.
Former Gov. Bruce Rauner approved $500 million in spending authority for DPI and its offshoot projects last year, no strings attached. Pritzker’s budget proposal still includes the $500 million, but introduces a new prerequisite: $500 million in private donations from corporations, individuals and other entities before matching state funds would be released.
“As a public-private partnership, Discovery Partners Institute has the potential to become an important element of Illinois’ ecosystem of innovation, and we’re committed to working with the University of Illinois to achieve this vision by matching the private funds after they’ve been raised,” said Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh.
OSF HealthCare said they look forward to working with the governor on the Peoria Innovation Hub, but noted the “ultimate timing” of the project is in Pritzker’s hands.
“OSF HealthCare and other community partners involved with the proposed Peoria Innovation Hub have been working with the Governor regarding funding for this vital initiative for our community. It is appropriate for the Governor to seek private funding contributions to support the Illinois Innovation Network and Discovery Partners Institute,” said OSF HealthCare in a statement. “The Peoria Innovation Hub will be a true public-private partnership that reflects the recommendation of the Governor. The ultimate timing will be determined by the Governor, but OSF is proud to be among the forward-thinking leaders and businesses who recognize what this project will mean for the continued overall health and growth of the communities we serve.”
University of Illinois spokesman Tom Hardy said the University of Illinois System is “deeply grateful for Gov. Pritzker’s support and $500 million in matching funds as part of his proposed fiscal 2020 budget. The U of I System is working closely with the administration in support of this grant and other initiatives in the governor’s budget that support higher education, discovery, entrepreneurship and job creation.”
While Hardy didn’t detail specific fundraising initiatives for DPI or IIN, he said the U of I System remains “strongly committed” to the project, and has invested funds to support operations at a temporary headquarters in downtown Chicago, as well as for facilities and continuing operations at Peoria, Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.
Under Rauner’s $500 million appropriation, the Peoria Innovation Hub was expected to be open by mid-to-late 2020. It remains unclear how the project’s timeline could be ultimately affected by the new condition in Pritzker’s budget proposal.