WEST FRANKFORT, IL (KFVS) - Lawmakers have announced a $2 million grant to help the City of West Frankfort repurpose the West Frankfort Mall.
It will help to serve growing industries, according to Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
The funds are estimated to create 218 jobs and generate $1.5 million in private investment. The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).
With the those federal dollars, a $1.7 million dollar state Illinois Department of Transportation grant, and local dollars, the West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan says the city now has what it takes to make changes and create 218 jobs.
“A lot of people prayed for this mall when we bought it, and a lot of people have prayed for our community and prayers have been answered,” Jordan said.
Jordan said the improvements are critical.
“This grant here has been wonderful, we have put a lot of time in it, it’s probably been over six months and hopefully in the next six months you’ll see great things that have been accomplished because of it,” he said.
“This investment will strengthen West Frankfort’s efforts to attract and grow local small businesses by making critical infrastructure improvements to the mall’s parking lot, heating and cooling systems and surrounding roadways,” Duckworth said. “I’m committed to working to help secure federal funding that allows local communities and business leaders to access the resources they need to create jobs and drive economic development across our state.”
“The repurposing of the West Frankfort Mall represents an opportunity for economic growth and more good-paying jobs in the region,” Durbin said. “I will continue advocating for federal funding to support Illinois’ development and growing industries.”
According to the lawmakers, the project will help to improve parking lots, install a new HVAC unit, ensure entryway safety and security, and build better roadways surrounding the building.
Senior citizen Frank Browning was headed to an appointment in the mall, he said making the doors ADA accessible will help him. “I can’t hardly handle doors with a cane, I can’t hardly handles doors. But it will help me a lot. I always come around this side closer to my hearing aid specialist,” Browning said.
The refurbishing of the West Frankfort Mall will help the city meet the needs of the region’s business community, many of which are impacted by significantly increased traffic.