The Caterpillar Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) are teaming to help revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Peoria, Ill., where the iconic heavy machinery manufacturer has had its headquarters.
The foundation, which is funded by Caterpillar, Inc., has committed $3 million to LISC.
“We would not be here but for the company’s eagerness to help its hometown communities regain their economic equilibrium,” said LISC President Michael Rubinger.
LISC, which is already working with local groups in 30 cities and dozens of rural areas, is making Peoria the first new local program in 15 years.
More than a year in the making, the launch of LISC Peoria is the result of extensive conversations among city, business, and community leaders.
LISC expects to focus its efforts initially in South Peoria and the East Bluff neighborhoods but will expand into the surrounding areas. Roughly 19 percent of Peoria’s population was struggling with poverty between 2006 and 2010 compared with 12.6 percent statewide, according to Census figures.
Officials also point out that half of the homes in East Bluff were built before 1940, many of them deteriorating.
The organization is not focusing on Peoria because it has more problems than other places, according to Anika Goss-Foster, LISC’s program vice president for the Midwestern region. “We are here because of the local capacity to lead change and the financial capacity to get the work started,” she said in a statement. “Too few smaller cities have that combination.”
Working with community-based groups, LISC will provide grants, loans, and equity investments to build affordable housing, revitalize commercial corridors, and create jobs.