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Joliet Junior College moves ahead with City Center campus project

College will pay for the project after not receiving state funding

Joliet Junior College's City Center campus in downtown Joliet. The exterior was finished last year. JJC trustees hope to see work begin this summer on the building's interior.
Joliet Junior College's City Center campus in downtown Joliet. The exterior was finished last year. JJC trustees hope to see work begin this summer on the building's interior.

JOLIET — Joliet Junior College will proceed with the City Center campus project without state funding.

After receiving word several weeks ago that JJC might receive the $10 million in state funding promised for the project, college officials decided to move forward as time drew short for honoring project bids and the slated opening of the building neared.

“The prevailing thought is [state funding] won’t be approved until the total [state] budget is approved,” JJC Board Chairman Jeff May said.

College officials hope they will eventually be reimbursed by the state for the project. 

State lawmakers are at an impasse in developing a spending plan. Democratic legislators approved a budget that fell short by about $3 billion in revenue. Gov. Bruce Rauner said he won’t sign it, dubbing it a “phony” budget. He said he wants lawmakers to consider pieces of his “turnaround agenda” along with the budget. 

Rauner Spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said Wednesday the state funding for JJC’s City Center project remains under review, along with all other state spending as Illinois deals with budget deficit issues.

She said she didn’t know when the project's funding would become available.

May said JJC officials want to start construction on the City Center's interior because project bids came in under budget and will expire by the end of June. The building's slated opening – fall 2016 – was another factor for moving forward.

JJC trustees in April approved the use of funding earmarked for other capital projects for the City Center interior when they first learned the $10 million in state funding was under review. 

It wasn’t until a Building and Grounds Committee meeting held in May that JJC trustees learned the college’s lobbyist, Curry & Associates LLC, suggested the college might eventually receive the state funding needed. 

But Jeff May said in recent discussions with JJC President Debra Daniels and the lobbyist, they decided JJC needed to go forward with the project. He said at Tuesday’s board meeting the college “really need to get going now.”

May said he expects early construction work on the interior to begin in late summer. 

“We’re really optimistic about it. … I know the community will be really proud of it,” May said about the building.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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