Rockford was one of seven Enterprise Zones in Illinois set to expire next year. Back in April, Mayor Larry Morrissey talked about how concerned he was the zone here might disappear.
"That's why we're hoping the state will allow us to continue using this effective tool that has allowed us to bring some and economic opportunity into some areas that have been hit hard by the economy." -said Morrissey.
And today, Governor Quinn's signature at RFD extends the Illinois Enterprise Zone Program for 25 years. Businesses in the zones get special tax incentives, to boost their bottom line. Some major changes in the new law include a way for both existing communities with zones and new communities to apply for designation. A five-member board will approve or deny those applications based on whether communities meet three out of ten criteria.
"There will be competition for folks who maybe don't have an Enterprise Zone, want to get one, and then they'll have to show that it's worthwhile in terms of job creation. This council will help score it and decide which ones are the best." -says Governor Quinn.
The 25 year extension eases the minds of local business representatives.
"It provides some continuation and stability in terms of how we do business for the foreseeable future, so we're very pleased with it." -says Chrysler Group Senior Manager Misti Rice.
Had the zone expired next year, Rockford would've been up against some tough competition, with 42 other states, and even other parts of Illinois, with similar economic development programs.
"We want our local community to have tools like the Enterprise Zone legislation to support our work."
The new law also increases accountability within companies, requiring any business getting Enterprise Zone incentives to report those tax benefits every year.
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