Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner has ordered a movie studio to return a $10M grant. The Cinespace studio was awarded the $10 million state grant by his predecessor, Pat Quinn.
Governor Bruce Rauner has ordered a Chicago TV and movie studio to give back a $10 million state grant this Monday. The state grant was awarded to the studio by Rauner’s predecessor, Pat Quinn. Pat had awarded this state grant to the owners of the studio in order to buy land that isn’t even for sale.
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The Rauner administration’s action came one day after the renowned Chicago Sun-Times revealed that the owners of the six of the seven properties listed in the grant say they have no plan to sell their land to the studio. Moreover there is no evidence whether the seventh property is for sale or not.
It has now been revealed that the previous administration of Quinn had awarded the $10 million grant to Cinespace Chicago Film Studios without any appraisals to justify the projected purchase prices listed by the studio’s owners.
Apart from this the former governor’s Department of Commerce and Economic opportunity had nothing to show that the studio had any pending contracts to buy any of the properties.
Rauner’s spokesman Lance Trover has stated that the administration has very serious concerns about the lack of supporting documentation and the failure of the Quinn administration to follow the normal procedures for awarding grants and that is why Governor Rauner has decided to take back this grant from the studio.
The Cinespace studio had applied for this state grant back in November 13th and the Quinn government approved the grant on December 1st and the money went out on December 19th as per the records. Plus what is interesting is that up till now the studio hasn’t used any of the grant money. The Rauner government has given the studio only till May 7th to return all the money along with interest.
When the former governor was contacted for his views he issued a statement through his spokesman that he had nothing to do with this grant personally and it was his administration that wanted to expand the Cinesapce’s North Lawndale campus as it would have created many jobs.
The spokesman for Quinn also stated that the grant was administered through DCEO to continue the expansion of the film industry in Illinois as it creates many jobs and is one of the main pillars of economic growth in the state.
There are lawmakers who have now started to demand an inquiry into this grant and one such lawmaker is the Republican David McSweeney. The Republican lawmaker in an email to the Illinois Auditor General wrote that he wants an investigation to be carried out and determine to what extent taxpayers money may have been misused.
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Apart from this grant the studio has also received millions of dollars in loans from Belmont Bank & Trust which is a small privately owned bank founded in 2006 by attorney James J. Banks. James J. Banks has a sister Karen Banks who works for Cinespace and maybe that is the reason for approving the loan to the studio.