JOLIET – The state will provide $5 million to help finish interior construction of the Joliet Junior College City Center campus.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced the funding Saturday inside the six-story building that occupies the spot of the former White Store at Chicago and Webster streets. Quinn said while he was speaking to the Chamber of Commerce last month, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow asked him about funds for the downtown site.
“I thought about it and we were able to work this [under]Illinois Jobs Now,” Quinn said. “I used to teach community college myself at Prairie State...[Funding education] is about jobs. This is about making sure men and women who want skills can learn skills.”
Quinn said there are a million students currently enrolled in the state’s 48 community colleges and noted JJC was the first in the country. He feels utilizing different locations and schedules provides opportunities for older students.
“This is so important [JJC offers] a variety of campuses accessible to students,” Quinn said. “College learning is a lifelong process, not just right after high school.”
Quinn said he and Mayor Tom Giarrante recently discussed the City Center campus and high-speed rail projects as initial steps toward revitalizing downtown Joliet.
“We are thrilled to receive this investment,” JJC President Debra Daniels said. “This is a wonderful investment in downtown Joliet and Will County and will benefit generations to come.”
The $58 million City Center campus will house the adult education and literacy department, workforce development and the culinary arts program. Besides classrooms, the building will house a large cafeteria on the first floor, with dining and public areas on the second floor. College spokeswoman Kelly Rohder said Saturday the building is expected to open in fall 2016.
City Center campus will connect to the hallways and ballroom of the college’s Renaissance Center, which will eventually be renovated. The adjoining building to the north, the former Sheraton Hotel, will be demolished and the space used for parking.