Gov. Quinn grows college projects with seed money in Rock Island

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Augustana College is preparing for the future by preserving its past. Old Main renovations received state support.

Now, Augustana is getting a state grant topping $1.3 million to support more campus construction.

"We're all in this together," said Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who made a stop in Rock Island Monday afternoon. "We truly believe in our students, their teachers and parents."

Money comes from the state's $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. It aims to grow the economy while improving education.

It's the same program that helped to build the riverfront campus for Western Illinois University in Moline.

Monmouth College will get close to $1 million for similar projects. The public money is designed to spark private investment.

"You excite our alumni and donors," said Monmouth College President Mauri Ditzler. "They increase their giving, and you leverage your gifts many times over."

That's happening at Knox College in Galesburg. It's Old Main building hosted a famous Lincoln-Douglas debate. More than a century-and-a-half later, the campus is driving economic growth in west central Illinois.

"More than 80% of Knox's construction, renovation and other core projects are completed by area contractors and workers," said Karrie Heartlein, Knox College.

That's important for private schools that get public support. It aims at bringing more people to Illinois in the long run.

"They'll come to our towns, and they will stimulate our economy for years to come," Ditzler concluded.

In Illinois, it's a way to prepare for the future by embracing education, both public and private.