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The next Branson, in southern Illinois?

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Pyramid State Park, in Perry County, Ill.

By Jeff Williams, IL Public Radio

Carbondale, Ill. – Illinois lawmakers are working to clear the way for a major theme park in southern Illinois.

A House committee on Tuesday sent legislation to the full house that would allow the Department of Natural Resources to swap about 2,000 acres of land at Pyramid State Park, in Perry County, for an equal amound of land from a private developer.

State Representative Dan Reitz, of Steeleville, says a Chicago company is exploring the possibility of building an entertainment-based theme park, in the spirit of Branson, Mo.

The effort would mean $100 million for the local economy and as many as 2,500 jobs.

But Reitz says he's not sure whether the park will ever get off the ground; he's simply helping pass legislation to allow for a land deal in case lawmakers aren't in session if the matters comes up.

Reitz also says it's a project that's been talked about for the past two years; he says the company contacted him last week after an attempt to work out the deal without the state park land fell through.

Pyramid State Park is about 70 miles southeast of St. Louis.

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