A project creating hundreds of jobs in Rockford is closer to takeoff after city council Monday night. Millions of dollars have been approved to help one company have a smooth landing into the area.
$7.5 million. That's the amount of tax dollars the city will give to Rockford's airport over the next 20 years. Supporters say the return will be an economic reward.
"This is one of those jobs that will create jobs for the region, will create careers for the region," says 2nd Ward Alderman Jamie Getchius.
500 careers, to be exact. That's the projection from aviation company AAR. It plans to operate a jet repair center at the Rockford airport, one the airport authority is building for the company. Local entities have been asked to help pay for that $40-million project. With a full council vote Monday after a special session was called, the City of Rockford commits $5-million plus interest over the next 20 years-- a total of nearly $7.5 million. The city's tax increment financing, or TIF funding, will pay for most of that.
While support for this major financial endeavor is overwhelming, it's not unanimous. Alderman Jeanne Oddo asked for a lay-over before casting a 'no' vote.
"I'm not very well-educated on this, so if you don't mind can we lay it over?" she asked during council Monday.
That request was denied. Oddo says she wanted to see Winnebago County agree to kick-in its share of the projec beforprojecting her vote. That's an $8-million plus interest request. The county plans to decide later this week.
Aldermen say the ball is now in the airport authority's court. It has to issue bonds for this project. Calls made to RFD Executive Director Mike Dunn to find out when that will happen were not returned.
Rockford City Council overwhelmingly passed the city's requested funding to bring a jet repair center and hundreds of jobs to the airport.
Council passed the ordinance 13-1 on Monday night in chambers.
It commits the city to $5 million plus interest over the next 20 years for the project.
"This is actual economic development," said Ald. Jamie Getchius.
Ald. Jeanne Oddo voted no. Oddo said she wanted to see the county pass its portion of project funding first.
Winnebago County leaders have yet to approve the $8 million plus interest their being asked to help build the facility. It could come up for a vote Thursday.
AAR is poised to bring 500 jobs to the area at its facility that will be built at the airport.
Airport officials estimate the cost of building the company's facility will be $40 million.