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GRANITE CTY, Ill. — Granite City, Illinois, is facing a myriad of problems with having lost 32 percent of its population since 1970.

Around 19 percent of the population is at or under the poverty level. The unemployment rate is just over the state average. New Mayor Mike Parkinson spoke with FOX 2’s Elliott Davis about all the challenges, which have been made worse by COVID.

The mayor said about 200 businesses have closed up shop since the pandemic started in 2020. The city is spending approximately $700,000 in pandemic funds to help businesses stay afloat.

Some city hall offices were recently shut down due to COVID. Granite City is in the same shape as many other Metro East communities where businesses have left and many have gone out of business.

The mayor is getting approximately $16 million in pandemic funds. They’re going to tackle the storm sewer troubles, abandoned houses, and other issues to try to get the city back on track.

The mayor said it’s going to take about eight years to turn things around but he believes it can be done. The city also has received half the pandemic funds, which is an estimated $8 million in November of last year. The city has spent about $500,000 of that pandemic money so far.