Five local banks are extending the Rockford Airport Authority a $17 million line of credit, allowing construction of the AAR project to complete on time. The money is needed because of a lack of state funding due to the budget standoff.
Alpine Bank, Rockford Bank & Trust, Blackhawk Bank, Northwest Bank and Byron Bank are participating.
“The collaboration of these five banks and the unwavering support of this project is a testament to the Rockford region and indicative of a healthy community where businesses step up to help one another,” said Mike Dunn, Executive Director of the Chicago Rockford International Airport, in a news release. “It is inspiring to see this initiative and know that people understand the economic impact of this state of the art facility.”
When completed, the the $41 million AAR facility will employ more than 500 people working on maintaining aircraft refurbishing used aircraft parts, making it one of the area’s largest employers.
But there are lingering questions over its funding. Former Governor Pat Quinn pledged $16 million in state funding in the weeks leading up to his re-election defeat, but the funds were never released. Governor Bruce Rauner’s office had said during the 2014-15 fiscal year they would not release the money until federal funds committed to the project were appropriated. Now that Illinois is in a new budget year and a budget standoff, his office says the money will have to be re-appropriated, something which is not guaranteed in a state so deep in the red.
Local legislators, Republican and Democrat, have said they will fight to have the money appropriated once the budget stalemate has ended.
The bankers lending millions to complete the project are confident the state money will be released as well.
“The MRO facility being built at the Greater Rockford Airport for AAR Corp. is one of the most impactful economic development initiatives in the Rockford area in recent memory,” Tom Walsh, CEO of Northwest Bank said in a statement. “The opportunity to create 500 good paying jobs was too much for the community to pass up. That’s why it is critically important for construction of the facility to continue without delay. With the challenges created by the ongoing state budget impasse in Springfield, a group of local banks has stepped up to the plate to ensure that the facility will be completed on time.”