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Six blocks of Chicago’s riverfront  is now one step closer to becoming an attractive river walk thanks  to new funding that was announced today.

The plan includes  thousands of square feet of indoor and outdoor retail space, bars and restaurants, and dozens of entertainment options that focus on the river.  In order to pay the loan back, the city will lease retail space, sell advertising and look for sponsorships and investment from the private sector.

Today Mayor Emanuel and U.S Dept of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced some serious funding for the project which is scheduled to be finished by 2016. The federal government will loan the city $99 million dollars to make it happen under the so-called “Transportation Finance Innovation Act,” a federal pot of money to be used to jump start projects that are “of regional or national significance. “

Also announced today, $292 million dollars in federal funding for O’Hare Airport to build a state of art facility -which will move people in and out faster who are renting cars or taking the train or bus.

The Mayor and Secretary LaHood emphasized the creation of local jobs for both projects.

“China is going to build 85 airports this year, that’s 85 economic development engines.. if the vision of the mayor isn’t continued with respect to  O’Hare, you don’t have the kind of opportunities for jobs and economic growth,” said LaHood