SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — In an effort to attract visitors to Illinois, the state announced a $22.5 million grant for festivals and attractions.

Eighty-nine chosen recipients include municipalities, park districts, businesses, and museums.

Rockford will receive:

  • $500,000 for the restoration of the Times Theater
  • $500,000 for construction of a Great Lawn Open Canopy Stage at Davis Park
  • $150,000 for a parking facility at Anderson Japanese Gardens
  • $15,000 for an Interactive Willow Garden Kaleidoscope Sculpture at the Discovery Center
  • $235,000 for the Transformational Arts and Culture Festival

The grant program was launched in 2021 to help the flagging tourism industry after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first round included $10 million for at least 40 tourist destinations.

“Illinois is the best place in the nation to visit, and now that people are finding that out through our marketing, our tourism economy is booming,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The Tourism Attraction and Festivals Grant program has been a vital part of that success by restoring and enhancing the great events across our state that draw visitors from around the world.

The Times Theater, on N. Main Street, which has sat empty for 20 years. The plan is to bring the historic theater on N. Main Street back to life by turning it into a multi-use entertainment venue.

The Times first opened in 1938.