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Pritzker talks about jobs, EVs, and prairies in a visit to northern Illinois

Governor JB Pritzker at Chicago-Rockford International Airport
Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
Governor JB Pritzker at Chicago-Rockford International Airport

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker weighed in on a controversial plan to expand the Chicago-Rockford International Airport over some of the state’s last remaining high-quality prairie.

Environmental advocates have called for the facility to go back to the drawing board on a construction plan that would expand over the Bell Bowl Prairie. The Airport Authority recently halted construction over the site, pending a review by federal agencies.

Pritzker says it’s important for both sides of the discussion to reach a resolution together. "I really believe that as we fight for our climate, our environment," said Pritzker. "As we protect our environment, that we can also do so while creating jobs that we don't need to have a trade-off here.”

The Governor made his remarks during a visit to the airport, where he announced $2.6 million dollars in state funds for workforce training. Aircraft maintenance company AAR plans to hire as many as 250 mechanics at its Rockford facility over the next year as part of an agreement with United Airlines. The airport is in the midst of a multi-year capital expansion plan including several high profile players in the aviation industry.

Pritzker spent a good portion of the day in the Rockford area — first signing a law in nearby Belvidere that incentivizes Electric Vehicle production in Illinois, then touting the airport training programs, and highlighting violence reduction efforts in the city.