Earlier today, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) voted in support of a comprehensive plan to extend and reform one of Illinois most successful economic development tools—Enterprise Zones.

Enterprise Zones are specially designated areas where employers—particularly large manufacturers—receive targeted tax relief, fast-tracked reviews of some state and local permit applications, and improved government service.  The state’s Enterprise Zone Program has become a priority because eight Enterprise Zones are set to expire next year, including one Peoria and another in Canton/Fulton County.  Dozens more will expire over the next few years.

"This is about jobs,” said Koehler, who served on the Special Committee on Enterprise Zone Extensions.  “Enterprise Zones encourage major employers to keep and create jobs in Illinois.  Over the past month, we've heard from big companies like Caterpillar, mayors, economic development experts, and others who all said that Enterprise Zones work.  We can't let this economic development tool expire."

  The legislation:
• Renews current enterprise zones for an additional 25 years, subject to approval of state and local officials • Allows up to 10 additional zones to be created over the next 10 years • Streamlines the available tax incentives to remove those that are not producing results • Requires maps of enterprise zones to be posted online

“This is a good plan,” said Koehler, who co-sponsored the legislation (Senate Bill 3688).  “It gives the business community the stability and predictability they need, it improves and expands the existing program, and it improves the transparency of this already-well-documented success story.”

Each year, companies in Enterprise Zones are required to report how many jobs they have kept or created due to the assistance the zone provides.  In 2011 alone, the Enterprise Zone Program is credited with creating 8,980 jobs and generating $2.5 billion in investments.