A long-term Illinois tax incentive program is set expire in some areas, but some lawmakers want to keep it going. A Senate bill would not only reinstate the Enterprise Zone Program for an additional 55 years, but also create 10 new zones. The program has been credited by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for creating 8,900 jobs and $2.5 billion in investments in Fiscal Year 2011. Eight of the 97 zones are scheduled to expire next year.
Mark Denzler, vice president of the Illinois Manufacturing Association, says the program affects businesses from Chicago to Cairo.
“Particularly in areas that have been hard hit by recession, that are trailing economically, so cities like Peoria, Decatur, Rockford. that have experienced hard times these, are absolutely critical to maintaining their current base and adding new jobs, and that’s what we need in the state of Illinois,” Denzler says.
Tax incentives include a $500 tax credit for businesses that hire laid-off or economically disadvantaged workers, and utility and sales tax exemptions, etc.
Craig Coil, president of the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association, says despite the state’s current fiscal condition, reinstating the program makes better fiscal sense in the long run. “Incentives are always controversial but the reality of it is that every state in the country and most countries around the world use incentives. So we have to remain competitive because those are the folks we compete with for jobs everyday,” Coil says.
A group of six senators is touring the state to determine which zones should be reinstated. The first meeting is on March 15 at Southern Illinois University’s Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center in Carbondale.