New development plans to revitalize Cairo - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

New development plans to revitalize Cairo

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CAIRO, Ill. -- Decorated with Christmas lights and trees, the City of Cairo is in the holiday spirit and during this season of giving, the town of 2,000 people is getting a gift from a development group out of Colorado. 

Rondell Swope is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Horizon Developer Group, a company based out of Aurora, Colorado, planning to bring businesses, jobs and people to a struggling southern Illinois town. 

The development group, Cairo city leaders and State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) released their plan on Monday to bring the once-thriving city back to life. 

"This is something that Ron has been working on for a while," Fowler said. "He recently closed on the outlet mall there in Cairo and bringing in four new business and he also worked out a deal where he has purchased two of the school buildings."

Talks of the revitalization started two years ago, when Swope was looking into opening a group home in Mount Vernon. A friend told him Cairo could benefit more from his efforts, so he focused on Cairo instead. 

Swope later met with Cairo Mayor Tyrone Coleman pitching the idea of bringing businesses and jobs to the river town. 

"Residents told me how much they love the city and how they wanted to stay but they couldn't because there were no places for them to stay, no jobs in Cairo," Swope said. "That really sparked something in me to say this is where I need to be."

The development group is revitalizing three building in Cairo. 

The Bennett Elementary School building will be turned into Family First Resource Center. The facility will offer free meals, a computer lab and a business start up center. 

The Garrison building will be transformed into a 25-bed group home for high-needs foster children.

Swope says he will open a Mexican restaurant, coffee shop, laundromat with dry cleaning services and a children's indoor play center inside the strip mall along Highway 51, that formerly housed Subway. 

The company plans on opening the laundromat in February with the rest of the businesses in the old strip mall to be open by summer. 

There is a sign on each one of the buildings telling the community what is coming soon. 

The company plans to purchase lots within the city to build around 200 homes. Horizon Developer Group will offer the homes to people who were asked to leave shuttered public housing complexes.

Swope says he hopes to have at least a dozen homes completed by the end of 2019. 

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