ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker made two stops in Rockford on Thursday to announce funding for major projects in the city.

First, the governor stopped off at Forest City Church, at 1280 S. Alpine Road, to announce a $1.5 million project to resurface South Alpine Road this spring.

“I’m proud to announce the first tranche of funding to renew South Alpine Road, improving the lives of the tens of thousands of drivers that rely on this corridor every day,” Pritzker said. “Up and down the Rockford region, we’re restoring and rebuilding, creating jobs, and making sure working families have the opportunities and resources they need to build good lives for themselves and their families.”

The money comes from IDOT’s multiyear program to update roads and bridges in Illinois, budgeted at $5 million.

As part of the $33.2 billion Rebuild Illinois plan, a $227 million project to expand I-39 between Harrison Avenue and Blackhawk Road is expected to start in 2024. The work will include the reconstruction of the west US 20 and Harrison Avenue interchange and the Mulford Road bridge. A separate project will replace the Perryville Road bridge.

In the afternoon, Pritzker held a press conference at the AAR Hangar at the Chicago Rockford International Airport, at 6150 Cessna Drive, to announce $2.6 million in funding for aviation mechanics.

The funding is meant to expand workforce training, pipeline development, and fund 80 apprenticeships at the Chicago Rockford International Airport.

“When we invest in Rockford’s airport and the programs it boasts, we invest in Rockford’s people — advancing opportunity for every Northern Illinoisan,” Pritzker said. “Illinois is already a transportation powerhouse, and by working in close collaboration with our state’s powerhouse aviation companies, we are laying the groundwork to keep our communities connected, and competitive, for years to come.” 

The funding will help AAR bolster partnerships with Rock Valley College and high schools throughout Northern Illinois, the state said.

“This is a very powerful example of what can happen, what can be accomplished when government, non for profit, education and industry are all aligned on a single goal,” said John Holmes the CEO for AAR.

“We want to make sure our students are competitive and that they have options and we want to thank AAR for that opportunity to make sure that they are competitive. In this region is where they can land the position and stay in this region to support their families and continue to grow this region,” said Dr. Howard Spearman the President of Rock Valley College.

The aviation industry estimates over 600,000 maintenance technicians will be needed globally over the coming years.