COVID Resources for Business Owners

GENERAL

Keep Your Customers Updated on Your Status

  • Whether your business is currently open or not, please log your business at SpringfieldZoom.com so the public knows your status and you can update it as things change. This is free and will take less than three minutes to get set up. You will never be spammed. Thanks to DSI Member AlertsMadeEasy.com for donating this service during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • We recommend posting regularly on your social media accounts whether you are open or not. Your customers want to hear from you and know how you’re doing. A picture is worth 1000 words.
  • Recording of webinar Top three ideas for tourism economies to save some business during the coronavirus from Destination Development Association

Stay at Home Executive Order

Federal Action

Employees

Free Parking at Meters

  • The City Council passed an Emergency Powers ordinance which includes suspension of parking meter fees until 14 days after Gov. Pritzker’s emergency declaration is lifted and fees or penalties that would have accrued in during that period are waived

LOANS

Paycheck Protection Program (Federal CARES Act)

Small Business Administration Disaster Loans (EIDL)

  • Apply Now. It may take up to 12 hours online to finish your application because the system is getting slammed. SBA says loan applications are usually processed in 18-21 days but they are processing faster than that. Money reaches businesses 2-5 days after approval.
  • Borrowers can receive $10,000 in an Emergency Economic Injury Grant (cash advance) that can be forgiven if spent on paid leave, maintaining payroll, increased costs due to supply chain disruption, mortgage or lease payments or repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue loss. Applicants can get the emergency cash even if they don’t qualify for additional funds through the EIDL process. Because lending decisions are based on self-certification and the applicant’s credit score, the review process should go quickly.
  • In addition to the application form, be prepared to submit a completed and signed
    Tax Information Authorization (IRS Form 4506T); complete copies of the most recent Federal income tax returns for the applicant business; completed and signed Personal Financial Statement (SBA Form 413) and a Schedule of Liabilities listing all fixed debts (SBA Form 2202).
  • Register for Disaster Loan Trainings
  • Check out this handy one-pager about the process
  • Independent Contractors – “When in Doubt, Apply.” Sole proprietors are eligible. You will need to have tax returns and/or a profit and loss statement for 2019 if your taxes haven’t yet been filed. Apply even if you don’t have an EIN. You will need to demonstrate that you have been generating business revenue in order to demonstrate economic injury. – Advice from Illinois SBDC at Lincoln Land Community College

Accessing Low Interest Loans via Local Banks

Accessing Low Interest Loans via Justine Petersen (City Partnership)

DCEO (State) Small Business Emergency Loan Fund 

  • Small businesses (outside of Chicago) with fewer than 50 employees and less than $3M in 2019 revenue are eligible for this program, allowing up to $50k loans with 5 year low interest repayment terms. Six month deferral on repayments.
  • First-step applications are now available on DCEO’s website.

GRANTS

Chamber’s Business Relief Fund (for all Sangamon County businesses regardless of Chamber member status)

State Hospitality Emergency Grant Program

  • $14m fund to help hotels, bars and restaurants support payroll and rent. Including job training and technology for operations to adjust to new options like delivery and curbside
  • Applications are available now on DCEO’s website and are due by April 1 at 5 p.m. All valid, eligible applications received within the five-day window will be entered into a lottery, and grant winners will be notified on April 4.

Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund

  • The James Beard Foundation is launching a Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund to provide micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need. Click here to sign up for the email list so that when they launch their application, you know.

DEFERRALS

Electric and Water Bills

  • City Water, Light & Power is suspending ALL disconnections for nonpayment for electric and water services for its customers effective immediately. This order remains in effect until May 1, 2020, at such time it will be re-evaluated. Find out more

Tax Deferrals

OTHER PROGRAMS

Go to SpringfieldZoom.com for Complete Updated List

Economic development organizations in Springfield and Sangamon County are working in tandem to help all of our businesses make it through the current COVID-19 shutdown.

A new website, donated by a local Springfield business, will consolidate business information across Sangamon County to keep consumers apprised of the status of their favorite local businesses and their services in one, easily searchable, place.

The website is SpringfieldZoom.com.

Any Sangamon County business or organization can simply click on “Register My Business” to get started. It takes less than three minutes for a business to create a free account. Plus they can update their status as the situation changes.

For the public, they can easily search for their favorite businesses to find out their status and whether they can purchase gift certificates, get take-out, etc. 

This one-stop website was built and is being donated by Springfield businesses GoWeb1 and AlertsMadeEasy.com, who built it in two days. They are donating this effort for the entire business community in Sangamon County as a free tool to help businesses and organizations quickly communicate their operational status to the public.

All of the partner economic development organizations will market this site as Sangamon County’s one-stop information source for consumers to look up business openings and closings throughout the COVID-19 public health crisis.

CONTACT
Val Yazell, City of Springfield Office of Planning and Economic Development
Josh Collins, Sangamon Springfield Growth Alliance
Chris Hembrough, The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce
Lisa Clemmons Stott, Downtown Springfield Inc
Katie Davison, Innovate Springfield | Macarthur Boulevard Association
Chris Long, Local First Springfield
Kevin Lust, Illinois Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land Community College

Downtown Restaurants with Delivery or Curb-side Pickup

We will keep adding to this list as we hear from our downtown businesses. Don’t forget to consider gift certificate purchases as well!

Look for the bagged meters to pick up your order!

CURB SIDE PICK UP

Long Nine Junction at 5 W Old State Capitol Plaza – menu on Facebook and call (217) 210-2400

Arlington’s at 210 Broadway – menu online

VELE order online and pick up at Curate only Wednesday – Saturday from 4:30pm – 8:30pm

Buzz Bomb options from the tap room including package beer, growlers, gift cards, and merchandise- pick up at 406 E Adams on Fridays 2-8pm & Saturdays 12-6pm

Jerk Shop Go – menu online – call for pick-up (217)717-0299

Anvil & Forge brews available – pick up at 619 E Washington

Cafe Moxo – order online

Sangamo Club – members can order carryout by phone from 10 am – 6 pm daily (menu via direct daily email)

Head West Subs at 530 E Capitol Ave – order online for pick up

Augie’s Front Burner at 109 S 5th St during limited hours at 217-544-6979 – menu posted on Facebook

La Piazza open during Lunch Tues – Sunday 11am – 2pm and Dinner 2pm – 7pm – menu here and call for pick up at 217-572-1442

Coopers Streatside offering Take and Bakes available for pick-up Tuesday from 10am – 12noon & 3pm- 5pm curbside. Please place orders by 6pm Monday 3/16

Anchors Away order online and pick up at 518 E Capital

Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery & Eatery – Offering curbside pick-up including growlers and $1.00 OFF crowlers (32 Oz. Can)

Order online and pick up at Incredibly Delicious 925 S 7th 7:30 am – 3 pm

Feed Store pick up from 11 am – 3 pm M-F – see menu then call (217) 528-3355

Saputos will be doing curbside service from 11AM-7PM. 801 East Monroe. Check out the menu and call ahead (217) 544-2523.

Pease’s at BUNN Gourmet (DSI Member) – call for carryout/curbside orders at 217-793-1840. Through Friday, March 19, you can order a pastry to go with it for 25% off.

Jimmy John’s at 219 S 6th – order online

DiPiero’s Italian Restaurant – menu on Facebook then call (217) 572-1410.

DELIVERY

Cafe Moxo – order online – $30 minimum gets you free delivery

Custom Cup – order online

Arlington’s – via UberEats

Jerk Shop Go via Door Dash or via UberEats or via GrubHub

Maldaners – via GrubHub

Head West Subs – order online

La Piazza via Delivery.com

Tokyo Mini Mart & Wheels is a bicycle delivery service – book on Facebook

Anchors Away via DoorDash

Aztca via DoorDash

Incredibly Delicious – find out more

Feed Store via Delivery.com 

Pease’s at BUNN Gourmet (DSI Member) via UberEats or via GrubHub

Jimmy John’s – order online

How to Support Downtown Right Now

DSI is partnering with other Sangamon County economic development organizations to promote the use of www.SpringfieldZoom.com, a listing of business’ status across the whole county. The public can use it as a one-stop location to find out who is open, who is not, and who has gift certificates, takeout, etc.

Thanks to DSI member GoWeb1 | AlertsMadeEasy.com for providing this service as a donation during this crisis.

While you are staying at home, please continue to support local organizations by taking one of these actions:

-Buy Gift Certificates Online

-Order Restaurant Delivery or Curbside Pick Up for Yourself or a Friend – Check Out Our Handy List

-Support Your Friends in the Service Industry However You Can including donating to Staff Meals

-Donate to the Chamber Business Relief Fund (all Sangamon County businesses are eligible to apply for relief whether they are Chamber members or not)

-Donate Your Ticket Costs Back to the Venue if Event Has Been Cancelled

-Leave a glowing review online at your favorite establishments

-Promote your favorite establishments on social media

-Donate to Cultural Institutions

-Give to the new COVID-19 Response Fund to support non-profit, community-based organizations that have experience providing essential services and support to local residents (seeded by United Way and Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln)

-Help homeless individuals by giving to service providers like Helping Hands

-Be Mindful with Your Health and Health of Your Neighbors

Generous tipping when you are able to go out again is also very much appreciated. People working in Springfield’s very important hospitality industry don’t always get sick leave and very small businesses don’t have an army of staff.

This is going to be tough going for a while and our neighborhood appreciates your support!

We’re Open This Weekend

Downtown will be open this weekend. Check our Facebook page for up-to-the-minute event happenings.

To celebrate the St Patrick’s Day holiday, the City is allowing plastic or aluminum containers of alcohol outside from 11 am – 5 pm on Saturday, March 14th. Drinks must be purchased at a participating downtown bar as outdoor sales are not allowed.

BARS

  • Buzz Bomb Brewery opens at 10 am on Saturday and for Boozy Brunch on Sunday
  • Club Station House opens at 9 am on Saturday
  • Anvil and Forge opens with new releases at 8 am on Saturday
  • Craft Beer Bar opens at noon on Saturday
  • Gin Mill opens at noon
  • Celtic Mist opens at 10 am on Saturday
  • Floyd’s Thirst Parlor opens at 7 am on Saturday
  • JP Kelly’s opens at 7:30 am on Saturday
  • Frankie’s Brewhaus opens at 8 am with breakfast and beverages on Saturday
  • The Incubator opens at 10 am on Saturday
  • The Alamo opens at 8 am with breakfast burritos on Saturday
  • WetBar opens at 11 am on Saturday
  • Try Terra Ferment from 2 – 11 pm on Saturday

RESTAURANTS

  • Obed and Isaac’s from 11 am – 11:30 pm
  • Boone’s Saloon opens at 8am with breakfast
  • Robbie’s Restaurant will be open 11am-3pm Saturday serving their corned beef & cabbage along with potatoes & Irish soda bread
  • Long Nine Junction open from 11 am – 3 pm
  • VELE will be open for regular dinner service on Friday and Saturday (4 pm bar 5 pm dinner – 11 pm)
  • Cafe Moxo open 6:30 a – 3 pm on Saturday and free delivery for orders over $30 (every day except Sunday)
  • La Piazza open 11 am – 10 pm on Saturday
  • Di Piero’s open 5 -10 pm on Saturday
  • Order online from Head West
  • Maldaner’s Restaurant is open from 5 – 10 pm on Saturday
  • Tacology 101 open from 11 am – 5 pm
  • Anchors Away open from 11 am – 10 pm
  • Try the new Jerk Shop Go from 11 am – 9 pm
  • Saputo’s open starting at 5 pm
  • Springfield Carriage Company 8 am – 8 pm with green eggs and ham and free mimosas
  • Enjoy Coffee Cake Donuts with green icing and Green Tea Cupcakes from Wm Van’s Coffee House from 7a-7p

RETAIL

  • Willow & Birch’s online store offers 17% off through Sunday
  • Springfield Vintage is open 11 – 5 pm with 20% off all day Saturday
  • Dumb Records is open 10 am – 8 pm with bands starting at 7 pm (all ages show)
  • Murphy’s Loft is open from 10 am – 5 pm on Saturday
  • Corrine’s Closet is open from 10 am – 7 pm on Saturday
  • Studio on Sixth is open from 10 am – 5ish
  • Wild Rose is open 10 am – 5 pm
  • Reverie Apparel is open 10 am – 2 pm
  • Itty Bitty Fashion Trunk is open 10 am – 2 pm
  • The Elf Shelf open 10 am – 3 pm

Our neighborhood understands that some people may be social distancing right now. If you choose to go out, please keep your hands washed & clean and don’t shake hands.

Whatever you decide, we encourage everyone to please continue to support local business. Please consider taking one of these actions this week:

-Buy Gift Certificates
-Order Restaurant Delivery for a Friend Who Is Freaking Out
-Donate Your Ticket Costs Back to the Venue if Event Has Been Cancelled
-Fill A Growler and Take It Home
-Give to Cultural Institutions
-Give to Social Service Agencies
-Be Mindful with Your Health and Health of Your Neighbors

Generous tipping is also very much appreciated. People working in Springfield’s very important hospitality industry don’t always get sick leave and very small businesses don’t have an army of staff.

This is going to be tough going for a while and we appreciate your support!

Downtown Celebrates at Annual Awards Fundraiser

Emcees Mary Young and Mary Kate Smith from The Portuguese Rodeo Clown Company.

Downtown Springfield Inc. celebrated our 27th year as the organization where the downtown neighborhood comes together with a “roaring” Annual Dinner fundraiser at the Wyndham Springfield City Centre on Thursday, January 16, 2020.

Thank you to our sponsors Watts Copy Systems, Wyndham Springfield City Centre, Illinois REALTORS, Chick Fritz Distributing and Frye Williamson Press. Thank you to our Corporate Table sponsors: Bank of Springfield, Brown, Hay & Stephens LLP, Hanson Professional Services, Horace Mann, HSHS St. Johns Hospital, Kuhn & Trello, Memorial Medical Center, and US Bank.

Thanks to Kristi Mitchell Photography for serving as the night’s official photographer: https://photographybykristi.shootproof.com/gallery/11509326/

Approximately 500 attendees were welcomed by a video from Governor JB Pritzker to kick off the night, which included a great performance by The Gaslight Squares, who came up to jam from St. Louis.

The evening marked the official transition from the 2019 Board of Directors to the 2020 Board of Directors, with outgoing President Kevin Kuhn of Kuhn & Trello Consulting Engineers passing the gavel to Brian Wojcicki of Illinois Capitol Group.

Mayor Jim Langfelder celebrated his 60th birthday with his annual State of the Downtown address. John Charles from Southern Illinois University and Bruce Sommer of University of Illinois Springfield also gave the first joint public appearance concerning the universities’ plans to submit a proposal to Governor Pritzker to expand programs in the downtown neighborhood via an Innovation District.

The audience generously raised more than $33,000 on the spot for DSI’s newest program, Momentum on Main Street, which brings together a coalition of entities to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs, property developers and investors. Stay tuned for announcements regarding our 2020 plans for Momentum thanks to this generous outpouring.

Chef August Mrozowski of Augie’s Front Burner receives the 2019 Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chef August Mrozowski was honored with the Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award. Augie started in the kitchen at the St. Nick’s alongside his father at age 14; helped start the Old Capitol Farmers Market as a chef seeking new farmers with fresh ingredients in the 90’s; has helped train other amazing local chefs such as Jordan Coffey of American Harvest and Corey Faucon of Long Nine Junction; and celebrated 22 years operating Augie’s Front Burner in 2019. Read this excellent profile of Augie by Jay Kitterman from The State Journal-Register.

Award nominees were recommended by the public and determined by a panel of DSI Past Presidents and active members. Here is a complete list of the businesses and individuals recognized as people and places making the most impact on the neighborhood in calendar year 2019:

Best Retail
Corrine’s Closet

Best Restaurant
La Piazza Cucina Italiana

Best Nightlife
Floyd’s Thirst Parlor

Best Event
Jaycees Holiday Lights Parade

Best Creative Promotion
Holiday Walks Trivia (The Portuguese Rodeo Clown Company)

Green Leadership
Susan Helm, Native Planters Project

Innovative Business Concept
Dumb Records

Best New Signage
Richards & Stehman

Best Interior Renovation
Brown Hay and Stephens

Best Public/Private Partnership
Levitt AMP Springfield
City of Springfield, Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation,
PNC Bank, Springfield Area Arts Council

Best Not for Profit Initiative
Farmers Market SNAP Outreach
Junior League of Springfield

Downtown Advocate
David Lee

Best Holiday Window (Voted by Public)
The Roost

Best Upper Story Renovation
Third Monroe LLC

Best Overall Renovation
Centre at 501

DSI Volunteer of the Year
Michael S. Johnson

Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award
August Mrozowski

Want to get involved in DSI as a volunteer or join as a member? Contact us!

FY 2021 City Budget Hearings

Last night, DSI went to the City of Springfield budget hearings for the three departments our organization works with the most: Economic Development, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Public Works. The departments were offering their proposals for the FY2021 city budget which starts March 1, 2020. Here are some highlights from the presentations and discussion with Aldermen of interest to those of us who care about downtown.

DOWNTOWN TIF FUNDS

In three years, the TIF will have positive cash flow. There is no cash available for payouts for obligated projects this fiscal year. Annually, the TIF pays $1.4M to the County to disperse to the taxing districts, including District 186. This fiscal year, $1.25M will go to the YMCA project at 4th and Carpenter, $450,000 is targeted for DK Collections’ hotel project at 4th and Washington, and another $165,000 needs to be paid for the sewer project on the north side of the Y Block. Discussion included whether the City would bond against future TIF projects.

VISITORS BUREAU AT 6TH AND ADAMS

There has been a 550% increase in visitors to the Visitors Bureau since it opened its visitors center on the Plaza vs when it welcomed visitors at its headquarters on 7th Street. There were 17,000 people who stopped in in 2019. We advocated for a Plaza visitors pop up back in 2017 and we’re thrilled with the results.

CVB GOES MOBILE

The Convention and Visitors Bureau’s budget includes a $54,000 “wrapped” van to utilize for interstate travel when hunting for new conventions and for local events and site visits.

LOCAL SPRINGFIELD PROUD

CVB will be working with other local organizations on a local pride marketing campaign.

OTHER CVB UPDATES

Convention bookings turned definite 20% higher in 2019. Route 66 Living Legends program will be rolled out Spring 2020. A new billboard on N Peoria Rd (near ISF Gate 4) directs southbound visitors downtown to the Visitors Center. The graphics are at right. Northbound, a Route 66 tease and another for travelers heading out of town to return to Springfield.

PARKING METERS

City has sent out the same RFP they used 18 months ago again. Public Works plans to hold a public input meeting in a few months.

The current RFP calls for upgrading 200 of the 1400 meters downtown to be able to accept a credit card. Much discussion with Aldermen about whether this is the right strategy.

Staff admits that some meters are not used much in the outskirts and may consider taking them out.

TREE ASSET INVENTORY

Public Works has $100,000 in its proposed budget for an inventory of Springfield’s trees and a plan to replace them. Aldermen displayed skepticism for the price tag for this consultant. This is an initiative of the Mayor’s Urban Forestry Commission.

BIKESHARE

Public Works said Gotcha will be launching their bike share program in downtown this spring.

TWO WAY STREETS

Along with the modernization of traffic signals which have outlived their useful life and need to be replaced, the City intends to convert several downtown streets back to two-way (as they were previously in the 1950’s and before) for easier navigation and safety.

Regarding the costs — $4.3M is the cost for overall signal modernization and two-way street conversion of 4th, 7th and Adams as the first phase. If the City reversed course and decided not to do the conversion back to two way (which DSI would oppose), the cost of the modernization would be $3.4M.

BEAUTIFICATION

The Mayor’s beautification proposal includes downtown and the major corridors of the city. It was unclear how the routes would be prioritized. Public Works said they would be putting together a five year plan for this and their other projects.

Public Works mentioned installing a street arch at First Street. We’re not sure what this is, but we’re asking! Sounds like the replacement of something historic to go along with the Mayor’s beautification proposal.

SUPPORT FOR DSI

The Economic Development budget included $50,000 for DSI’s economic development work.

———

Downtown is represented by two aldermen – Andrew Proctor (Ward 5) and Shawn Gregory (Ward 2).

Announcing the 2019 Downtown Awards Nominees

All recipients are announced at our Annual Dinner on Thursday, January 16th. (You can still buy tickets! We are going back to the 1920’s with this year’s theme).

Awards without pre-announced nominees include Best Holiday Window as voted by the public; Best Upper Story Renovation; Best Overall Renovation; DSI Volunteer of the Year; and Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Congratulations to the following businesses and individuals who epitomized the Best of 2019 in downtown Springfield. The nominations by the public were reviewed by a committee of DSI Past Presidents and members who were active in DSI committees last year:

Best Retail
Corrine’s Closet
Dumb Records
Itty Bitty Fashion Trunk

Best Restaurant
Arlington’s
Cafe Moxo
La Piazza Cucina Italiana

Best Nightlife
The Alamo
Floyd’s Thirst Parlor
JP Kelly’s

Best Event
Jaycees Holiday Lights Parade
Levitt AMP Springfield
Pride Fest

Best Creative Promotion
12 Days of Giveaways (Willow & Birch)
Holiday Walks Trivia (The Portuguese Radio Clown Company)
She’s Blooming Awesome (Springfield Vintage)

Green Leadership
Hoogland Center of the Arts, Energy Efficiency Plan
Illinois Environmental Council, Solar Installation
Susan Helm, Native Planters Project

Innovative Business Concept
Dumb Records
HelloWater
The Incubator

Best New Signage
The Cardologist
Good Heart Tattoo
Richards & Stehman

Best Interior Renovation
Anvil & Forge
Brown Hay and Stephens
INB Training Center & Marketing Offices

Best Public/Private Partnership
UIS Adoption of Innovate Springfield (Community Foundation and UIS)
Dare to be Different Fashion Show (Springfield Vintage and PCASA)
Levitt AMP Springfield (City, DSI, Heritage Foundation, PNC and other Sponsors)

Best Not for Profit Initiative
Bees & Butterflies Exhibit (Kidzeum)
Center for Health and Housing Concept (Helping Hands)
Farmers Market SNAP Outreach (Junior League of Springfield)

Downtown Advocate
Chris Nickell
David Lee
Josh Sabo

Answering Your Pressing Questions: Downtown University Presence

Q: Does DSI want one or more universities to locate programs in the downtown neighborhood?

A: We sure do, and we’ve been on the record since at least 2013.  According to a 2017 study by the Brookings Institution, downtown higher ed programs outperform their peers, and have emerged as “key competitive differentiators” for cities. The study entitled, “Hidden in plain sight: The oversized impact of downtown universities,” highlights the important interplay between universities, startups, and local jobs. (Source: Why downtown universities help fuel the urban startup ecosystem)

The creation of downtown business incubator and social innovation hub Innovate Springfield by the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln in 2015, which is now a part of UIS as of 2018, was the biggest step so far in a long dialogue. Innovate Springfield is now part of the Illinois Innovation Network, a State initiative led by the University of Illinois System to foster the breakthrough research, discovery, and entrepreneurship that drives progress, job creation and economic growth.

Q: Why has the conversation heated up now?

A: Governor Pritzker has been touring new downtown IIN hub locations in Chicago, Peoria and other cities and Springfield needs to finalize its location as well. UIS Chancellor Koch has been seeking a downtown location for more than a year.

Plus, the Governor and legislative caucuses passed a capital bill last year, which only comes around once a decade and includes potential funding for higher ed projects. Combining these two state funding streams could create an opportunity for University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University — the two largest higher ed systems in the state — to work more closely together in the areas of innovation and incubation.

This concept fits in brilliantly with what DSI has been preaching for a while — supporting and increasing the number of “Creatives in the Core” is the way to accelerate our local economy by supporting the businesses who are here and creating more jobs.

Q: I’ve read news reports by Bruce Rushton and Brenden Moore about a plan to locate potential buildings at the epicenter of 4th and Adams.  What’s up?

A: The staff of the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance met with property owners from 2nd to 4th Street, and Monroe to Washington, to share their organization’s ideas about a preferred location for potential university programs.

The universities have not formally selected any location yet.

DSI has not yet provided a formal proposal to the universities, Governor Pritzker or Senator Andy Manar (chair of the Senate’s Appropriations II Committee), because we await information about needed square footage. However, we are now working with SSGA, AIA Illinois, Landmarks Illinois, and Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation to develop resources for the decision-makers when we, as a community, enter the final phase of determining the best location.

Those resources include analysis of other downtown neighborhoods across the nation that have a well-integrated higher ed presence, such as: Scott Community College in Davenport, IA; The University of Memphis in Tennessee; and the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Wisconsin.

No matter how quickly our proposals must gel together in the next few months, a process that includes transparent, collaborative community participation is vital.

Q: Where would a downtown university presence be located?

That has yet to be determined. The universities have not yet weighed in with space needs for programs or a preferred location(s).

It’s understandable why SSGA identified Fourth and Adams as an epicenter for any potential higher ed projects: it is near the State Capitol; who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the potential greenway left when Third Street rail ways are consolidated to 10th Street; and it is also an area that has already attracted private and city investment, and many new businesses, in the last decade, which would provide the “interplay” highlighted in the Brookings Institution report.

Q: What is guiding DSI’s participation in these conversations?

Downtown Springfield Inc is a nationally-accredited Main Street organization, a coalition of downtown businesses, and a champion for downtown investment for nearly 28 years. We have more than 150 business and non-profit members.

Our daily work is to celebrate and support the investment that entrepreneurs and residential developers have already made in the downtown neighborhood and to work to attract even more investment.

On December 12th, the DSI Board of Directors took this official position:

  • A vibrant university presence is invaluable to the long-term vitality of downtown Springfield.
  • In keeping with the strong sense of community that exists downtown, we believe transparent, collaborative stakeholder participation is instrumental in developing and nurturing a downtown university presence.
  • We look forward to working with all community partners to integrate the universities into downtown Springfield.

Downtown university programs could potentially turn surface parking lots into beautiful new buildings and vacant buildings into living laboratories. These gaps have previously been identified as black eyes in the SDAT Report, in the RUDAT report, and in the City’s 2017 Comprehensive Plan. It’s at least a good place to start the conversation about location.

As a neighborhood community, we are beyond excited to become the setting for Springfield’s “interplay” between small businesses, technology and higher ed research in the coming years. We look forward to working with the universities, as a community, to give Governor Pritzker a proposal he can get excited about, too.

Tell Us Who Should Receive This Year’s DSI Awards

Every year during our Annual Dinner & Awards, Downtown Springfield Inc. recognizes the business owners in the downtown area who are leading the way to a busy, friendly, bold, entertaining and coveted neighborhood.

The first step in the nomination process comes from YOU. Log your suggestions using our online survey tool>

We’ll announce the 2019 recipients at the Annual Dinner on January 16, 2020.

Review the recipients over the years here.

This 27th Annual Dinner will be held at the Wyndham City Centre and we’re taking downtown back to its Roaring 20’s. Tickets will be available soon for DSI’s largest fundraiser of the year. This is one celebration you won’t want to miss!

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