The Illinois Lieutenant Governor is in town today as Jacksonville plays host to the Illinois Main Street Conference.
The state Main Street conference is in full swing today in downtown Jacksonville and has brought nearly 100 people to town from all corners of the state. One of those attendees is Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton who says she is excited about her visit to Jacksonville.
Lt. Governor Stratton says she’s not only excited to visit Jacksonville but also by the opportunity the conference gives for others to visit and take in all that Jacksonville has accomplished over the last two decades.
“Jacksonville in and of itself is filled with such rich history and culture and I’m so grateful those who live there and those who visit get to experience it. Main Street is really about the changes that have happened, really that started in Jacksonville back in 1999, which revitalized not just Main Street but all sorts of projects and new businesses that really made that area come alive.
This conference is a great opportunity to have people from around the state to come to Jacksonville, shine a light on the community and the small businesses in Jacksonville.”
The conference is being held by Stratton’s office in partnership with Chicago UrbanMain and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Stratton is taking part in several events today, including moderating a panel on the economic and cultural power of Illinois Main Street communities. In between scheduled events, the Lt. Governor will also visit small businesses to support local entrepreneurs in Jacksonville.
Stratton says the COVID-19 pandemic has added new challenges that stand in the way of small businesses in Illinois from thriving as they should. She says everyone has a role in supporting and advocating for small businesses during these uncertain times.
“I always say it’s important to attract larger corporations to our state, and we are doing so, but small businesses are responsible for about two-thirds of the job creation in our state. It’s fitting that conference attendees are going to experience not just the fantastic panels and discussion, but they will also have a chance to go through the neighborhood and get to Main Street and see how it’s growing and developing in Jacksonville.”
Stratton says in her travels all over the state, she tries to lift up small businesses to the rest of the state everywhere she can, and she plans to do the same for businesses she visits in Jacksonville today.
She says aside from programs aimed at small businesses like the Back to Business Grant Program, the Pritzker Administration is working to continue supporting small businesses as well as small business-centered organizations like Main Street
“We also know that the Illinois Main Street program is really an invaluable resource to communities and so for the first time in years, thanks to some real directed advocacy, we’re going to see the Illinois Main Street program get an increase in funding. So we are doing the work to make that happen.”
The Illinois Main Street State Conference continues in downtown Jacksonville through Friday.
Conference attendees and the public at large are invited to mingle during the Sip and Stroll event this evening where everyone can stroll to visit stores that will be staying open until 7 pm, as well as sip at one of the many local eating and drinking establishments in the downtown Jacksonville area.