Black Bros. announces $100,000 donation match for community project

MENDOTA, IL — Black Bros. Chief Financial Officer Megan Kneebone recently announced the company’s intentions to match donations up to $100,000 toward a community rehabilitation project in the city’s downtown, which was devastated by two separate structure fires in 2022. The venerable machinery manufacturer’s headquarters has been stationed in the small-Midwestern railroad town since 1900.

“Our team is committed to giving back to the community that has supported us for six — going on seven — generations. Every dollar donated will matched, doubling its impact. Together we can make a difference and create a much needed public gathering spot.”

The City of Mendota will also receive $1,270,305 from a U.S. EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant to remediate a two-parcel site that includes the formal Campbell Cleaners and Car Quest Auto Parts located in the 800 block of Main Street and Illinois Avenue.

The clean-up is the first phase to the revitalization of this space. Community group Reimagine Mendota announced a fundraiser that will establish a community gathering space for the second phase. To kick off the fundraiser, Mendota’s Black Bros. Co. announced to match up-to $100,000 for the project, which is in addition to a previous $10,000 contribution from the Carroll family. The contribution and the match donation provide a solid foundation for the fundraiser.

Mendota City Clerk and Economic Development Director Emily McConville said, “Knowing that the clean-up will take about two years to complete, focusing on the second phase allows for the community to engage in the vision, develop the plan, and raise the funds to implement the project right after phase one is done.”

Over the coming months, Reimagine Mendota will host opportunities for residents to share their ideas and pictures of what they would like to have in the community space. A part of the Brownfields grant has dollars for planning, which will include the input from residents collected. The brownfields cleanup could take up to two years to complete. This time will be used for fundraising for the space, so that construction can start soon after the brownfields cleanup is complete.

The southern parcel of the brownfield was used as a steam laundry and dry cleaners from 1929 to 2000. The structure was demolished in 2020, and the site has since been vacant. The northern parcel was used for farm implement sales and service and as an automobile parts retailer from 1956 to 2023, and currently is vacant and unused. Both parcels are contaminated with volatile organic compounds and metals.

Reimagine Mendota has an account with Starved Rock Country Community Foundation, which is the fiscal sponsor and accepts tax-exempt donations on behalf of Reimagine Mendota.
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