Gov. JB Pritzker announces the Megasites Investment Program during a press conference Monday morning at Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, 1000 E. 111th St. in Pullman. Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives president David Doig (right) and other state leaders were on hand for the announcement. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

PULLMAN — Illinois will give out $40 million in grants to private businesses, nonprofits and governments to build large industrial centers on under-used properties across the state, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday.

The funding will prepare large properties like brownfields and agricultural sites to host manufacturing facilities, distribution centers and other industrial operations, Pritzker announced at a news conference Monday at Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, 1000 E. 111th St. in Pullman.

The Megasites Investment Program grants can be used for land acquisition, infrastructure projects like roads and utilities, site development expenses like grading and drainage, site remediation and cleanup and other expenses.

The state will give up to $5,000 per acre of development, with totals ranging from $250,000 to $5 million. Applicants must own or have an agreement to own sites of at least 200 acres, and must match grant funds.

“We want these sites cleaned up,” Pritzker said. ” … It’s about providing dollars upfront so that can get taken care of and you can take that off of the expenditure list of things that you need to put in to make a site ready to go, and to get going on whatever it may be in that location.”

Applications are open and will be accepted through April 6. To apply for the funds, click here.

A webinar with more information is Feb. 21. Underserved communities and properties in state Opportunity Zones will be prioritized, officials said.

Pritzker didn’t share any specific sites in Chicago that the state is eyeing to support with the grants. The application process will determine who gets funding, the governor said.

Method Soap Factory, 720 E. 111th, William McDonough and Heitman Architects, 2015 Credit: Lee Bey

The megasites program will encourage businesses to locate projects in Illinois rather than neighboring states, Pritzker said.

“I venture to argue to you that they are not cleaning up their sites at the pace that we are cleaning up ours,” he said while pointing out a window toward Indiana, which is several miles from Pullman.

The 180-acre Pullman Park development, led by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, “is the prototype for what we hope to accomplish” with the grants, state Rep. Nicholas Smith said.

Pullman Park — which hosts distribution centers for Amazon and Whole Foods and facilities for Method Products and Gotham Greens, among others — was previously a Ryerson Steel plant. A similar state grant of $10 million in 2010 was key to getting that project started, officials said.

The Megasites Investment Program was created through the Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan signed in 2019.

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