New U of I campus plans announced for South Loop

CHICAGO -- Governor Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel want to build a new University of Illinois campus in the South Loop.

The University of Illinois has big plans for the vacant land south of Roosevelt Road along the Chicago River.

This school envisions a sprawling innovation center — The Discovery Partners Institute — The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

“This will give our students great opportunities to get letters of reference, access to companies to participate in hands on experiences, to get college credit and to take those experiences forward into their professional careers,” said University of Illinois President Timothy.

The announcement brought out Rauner and Emanuel for a rare joint appearance. The governor predicts the project will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“This is going to focus on computer science and big data, food and agriculture,” he said. “It’s going to focus on health care and bio sciences - the major drivers of the Illinois economy along with advanced manufacturing and advanced materials eventually.”

It’s not clear how this massive project will be paid for. Emanuel is directing questions about the funding to the governor.

“The governor is leading that effort. I’m supportive of that effort,” he said.

Rauner says funding is TBD.

“(There’s) lots of lots of options. We haven’t started any really focused fundraising yet. Right now we’re laying out the vision. This is transformative for the Illinois economy. Literally hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs and so many jobs up and down the Illinois economy. “

For Emanuel and Rauner the Institute is well-timed and a possible boost to the city’s effort to land Amazon’s second headquarters.

The vacant parcel — known as The 78th - was donated by developer Related Midwest.

Also it was announced today the University of Chicago Polsky Center is now partnering with the Army Research Lab.