GENESEO, Ill. — The city of Geneseo is in the process of removing a railroad crossing near the intersection of Spring Street and Exchange.
City Administrator JoAnn Hollenkamp says crews are doing this for safety reasons, but they're also in the process of putting in a train depot for the proposed Amtrak project from Chicago to Moline. Geneseo would get a stop on that trip.
"We are more optimistic now than ever that it's going to become a reality," said Rhonda Ludwig, former director of Geneseo's Chamber of Commerce said in November of 2016. "That is exciting for us in Geneseo."
Hollenkamp joined us live Thursday, June 10th during the 11 a.m. hour to talk about the Amtrak project. She says having passenger rail coming through her city would be huge for the community.
"Because of COVID and people starting to work from home, they're very comfortable going into the office once or twice a week versus every day per week," she said Thursday.
Spring Street will permanently close at Exchange due to this project. The city administrator hopes to have passenger rail coming through her city in two to three years.
Geneseo is also seeing economic growth and development, especially in the downtown area.
Hollenkamp said businesses have been successful, even amid the pandemic. According to Hollenkamp, 18 businesses have either moved into Geneseo or significantly expanded since 2020.
Hollenkamp attributes that growth to an attitude in Geneseo among residents and business owners that is open to new ideas. She also says the safe community and vibrant downtown area help keep businesses in Geneseo.
But there is one problem: Geneseo is running out of space to put new businesses that want to move to Geneseo, Hollenkamp said. She said the city right now does not have any more space in the downtown area to put a new business.
Hollenkamp also said businesses have stayed in town because of COVID-19 assistance from the city. The city of Geneseo implemented a COVID-19 recovery loan program for existing businesses during the pandemic.
Hollenkamp hopes some of the $800,000 coming from the American Rescue Plan can be used for these loan programs. But, she prefaced the city is still waiting to hear from the federal government on how specifically the money can be used, and if the loan program qualifies.