Rockford's tourism industry gets a much-needed boost Monday from Washington. Illinois congressman Don Manzullo says congress will give the Burpee Museum $1 million to help build a major attraction.
Burpee Museum leaders are celebrating the news. The museum will get $1 million dollars to construct an exhibit for Jane the dinosaur, unearthed in Montana last year and to fund a new paleontology research center right in Rockford.
At a Rockford area tourism meeting, Manzullo told local leaders Rockford's Burpee museum will get $1 million dollars for Jane.
"This town will be known throughout the world with people coming here."
The funding is welcome after another year of losses for the tourism industry. In 2002 Rockford lost 290 tourism-related jobs and $18 million in revenue.
"It's going to bring a tremendous number of visitors to Rockford and when people coming here, everyone benefits. It' really exciting."
Local leaders say Rockford needs to build a state of the art convention center and new attractions to lure visitors to the area, and money for Jane and Burpee is a start.
"It gives us the opportunity to plan big, to think big, and to act now, which is wonderful," says Lew Crampton.
Tourism experts say this is a smart investment. They estimate that Jane could bring 100,000 visitors and $6 million a year to the stateline. The funding stipulates the Burpee use only local labor when using the money.