Illinois Enterprise Zone Program Changes

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The State of Illinois recently overhauled the Illinois Enterprise Zone program, resulting in openings for new municipalities and counties to obtain Enterprise Zone designations.

Enterprise Zones encourage job growth and investment in economically depressed areas.  Companies within a Zone or that agree to move into one, can qualify for tax incentives that include sales tax exemptions on purchases of building materials and manufacturing equipment and an exemption for utility taxes. Each zone is administered by a local official under rules set by the state.  State law gives the new Zones a 15-year term, with a review by the board after 13 years for a possible 10-year extension.

As part of the changes to the program there is a new application that entities must complete in order to be considered for designation of a potential Enterprise Zone, which must qualify per the Illinois Enterprise Zone Act (20 ILCS 655/1, et seq.).  To be deemed eligible for a zone, applications will be measured according to 10 criteria:  unemployment; job creation and investment; poverty; abandoned coal mines, brownfields or federal disaster declarations; major layoffs or business closures; vacancy rate of industrial and commercial buildings; tax base improvement; public infrastructure improvement plan; career skills programs at high schools and community colleges; and changes in the taxable value of business properties.

Moran Economic Development has extensive experience with the new Enterprise Zone application process, having completed the following applications since the change to the Illinois Enterprise Zone Act:

-       Madison County Discovery Enterprise Zone

-       Fairmont City/Caseyville/Brooklyn Enterprise Zone

-       Mt. Carmel/Wabash County Enterprise Zone

-       Clinton County Enterprise Zone

-       Olney/Richland County/Newton/Jasper County Enterprise Zone

-       Beardstown Enterprise Zone

-       Rantoul Enterprise Zone

-       Flora/Clay County Enterprise Zone

All of these applications were successful, with each Zone being awarded.

As part of the most recent round of openings MED completed applications for the Jersey-Greene Intermodal Enterprise Zone and Carmi/White County/Edwards County Enterprise Zone.

No openings will be available in 2017, but there will be up to 13 openings for new Enterprise Zones designated based on applications submitted by December 31, 2018.