New JJK Fan Center Progresses with New Market Tax Credit Allocation

Overhead photo of the JJK Fan Center

New facility to help revitalize East St. Louis

In a significant milestone for community empowerment and educational innovation, the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation (JJK Foundation) has announced the closing of a pivotal project in its mission to revitalize East St. Louis, Illinois.

The project, funded by a $12 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation, will be the creation of the JJK Food, Agriculture & Nutrition Innovation Center (JJK FAN) — a 30,000 square foot facility destined to become a beacon of STEAM and agricultural learning for K-12 students and their families. With classrooms, gardens and a commercial kitchen, the JJK FAN Center will provide educational opportunities for an estimated 15,000 persons and their families annually.

The financing of this project was facilitated by the Heartland Regional Investment Fund (HRIF) and U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance. The HRIF provides financing to projects in distressed communities through the federal NMTC program as determined by managing members The City of St. Charles, Southwest Illinois Development Authority and St. Louis Economic Development Partnership (STL Partnership). Impact Marketplace provided NMTC services for the project.

“We are proud to support the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation and all of the important work that they do in the region,” said Jeff Colona, director of new markets tax credits at STL Partnership. “We are excited this NMTC allocation can help so many deserving students. We look forward to seeing the affect the JJK FAN Center will have on East St. Louis and the rest of the St. Louis area in the near future.”

This initiative is a collaborative effort with programmatic partners, such as the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Extension, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Lansdowne UP, ensuring a wide-reaching impact on educational and professional pathways in agriculture and food sciences.