Illinois Governor Seeking $1 Billion EPA Clean Energy Bid

J.B. Pritzker Wants to Establish Illinois as Tech Hub
JB Pritzker
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is hoping federal funding for clean energy projects will help establish the state as a hub for innovation. (Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg News)

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is going after every federal dollar to turn the state into a hub for new technologies, intensifying a battle among states for trillions in funds available under the Biden administration.

After winning $14 billion in infrastructure funds, $1 billion to build a Midwest hydrogen hub, and bidding to host the $11 billion National Semiconductor Technology Center, the governor is looking for more. The state is now seeking $1 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency for clean energy projects, according to the group leading the bid.

Illinois has been trying to position itself as a hub for new technologies, from quantum computing to life sciences and electric vehicle manufacturing. Pritzker is battling other states for more than $2 trillion in federal funds being pumped into the U.S. economy from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act — all enacted since 2021.

“We literally are going after every dollar that’s available,” said Pritzker, a scion of the Hyatt hotel fortune. “We should get better than our fair share.”

Illinois has recently created a task force to lure federal dollars. That public-private partnership, known as Innovate Illinois, is bidding for the EPA funds with Chicago-based nonprofit National Community Investment Fund. It is also working with the private sector.


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The proposal — dubbed “Rust Belts to Green Belts” in a nod to the state’s heavy manufacturing history — focuses on clean energy around industrial corridors where diesel vehicles and railways have adversely affected low-income communities.

The funds would be distributed to community leaders around the country for investments in net-zero emissions transportation, retrofitting of buildings and solar power, said Saurabh Narain, president of NCIF.

“We’ve gone through significant effort to align the Rivians of the world, the Fords of the world, the Lion Electrics of the world, Schneider and many others,” Narain said in an interview. “They are interested in selling more trucks and charging stations in these communities. We are interested in the communities getting decarbonized.”

U.S. states are battling for federal funds but also tapping their own pockets to entice new manufacturing facilities. Illinois, which recently lured a $2 billion gigafactory by Chinese battery maker Gotion High-tech Co., has a $400 million “closing” fund to lure companies with incentives, much smaller than rivals Michigan and Texas. Still, Pritkzer says money isn’t everything.

States funding chart

“Remember, these companies that are putting billions of dollars in the ground, building a factory or bringing their companies here, they’re looking for talent,” he said. “We compete wildly successfully on the question of talent.”

Illinois has been talking to a range of companies focused on clean energy and electric vehicles, Pritzker said. He expects the state will be making more announcements over the next six months that will “prove the efficacy” of having closing funds available.

“There are manufacturers that make all kinds of things that we have the high capability to provide the right kind of workforce,” he said. “I feel very confident about the future, and you’ll be seeing more announcements.”

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