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EDC Leads Virtual One Voice Trip To Seek Federal Funds

Patrick Hoban
Patrick Hoban of the Bloomington-Normal EDC led a virtual One Voice conference with staff from three federal agencies last week.

Economic developers did not go to Washington, D.C. to make their case for federal dollars this year. They did it virtually because of the pandemic.The Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council leads the annual One Voice delegation.

CEO Patrick Hoban said the Zoom meetings with federal agency staff were efficient.

“I think we put our best foot forward and it will have big returns,” he said.

One Voice plans to seek funds for a Hamilton Road extension from Bunn Street to Commerce Parkway in Bloomington, Illinois State University's Innovation Hub and sewer improvements for the Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District.

The three projects cost a combined $25 million. The Hamilton Road project is expected to cost $12.1 million. ISU is seeking $3 million for the small business incubator and has $3 million coming from the state. BNWRD's planned sewer upgrades come with a $6.7 million price tag.

The One Voice group met with representatives from the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency on March 2-3.

Hoban said the goal is to find out which federal or state programs could have money available., adding he hopes the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill also could help.

“We try to stack as many programs as possible to fill the gap,” Hoban said. “If this new relief bill comes through, there could just be more funds to fill the gap.”

One Voice has been an annual trip to Washington for the EDC and business and government leaders for 15 years. Hoban said when the pandemic is over, he plans to bring the delegation back to D.C.

“It’s really important to build up relationships with people and not just focus on information,” Hoban said. “We’re really efficient in these meetings because we can do them all back to back, but you lose all that when we are doing this all virtually.

“We need to get back out there in person. (Federal) staff said the same thing. Elected (representatives) said the same thing.”

One Voice has secured $51 million for various projects since 2006.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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