After nearly three years of discussion and negotiation, the Illinois General Assembly unanimously passed Enterprise Zone extension legislation last night. Senate Bill 3616 will provide stable and predictable job creation and retention incentives for the long term, more transparency and performance reporting and revised qualification criteria which may give communities not currently designated as Enterprise Zones the chance to be considered for designation. It also gives communities with existing zones the opportunity to renew for up to 25 years. The bill awaits Governor Quinn’s signature.
Championed by the Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA) with significant technical assistance and support provided by the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association (IEZA) and the Illinois Taxpayers Federation (IFT), 3616 was the culmination of months of work. Employers of all sizes as well as media and local government leaders, Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Organizations throughout the state helped promote the initiative as well, reaching out to their respective legislators. *Mark Denzler of the IMA along with Tom Johnson of ITF should be commended for their diligence and determination in getting this passed. Mark was the captain of the ship and did a great job of building consensus and keeping things moving.*
At the legislative level, Senator Mike Frerichs (D-Urbana/Champaign) and Senator Pamela Althoff (R-Crystal Lake) were exemplary leaders on the negotiating team in the upper chamber along with President John Cullerton, who made this a primary issue for the Senate this session, as well as Minority Leader Christine Radogno. *Senators Frerichs and Althoff made the case for zones during the statewide Enterprise Zone Special Committee hearings and were instrumental in getting the message out about the importance of the program to the future of Illinois economic development efforts.*
In the House, Representative John Bradley (D-Marion) and Representative David Harris (R- Mt.Prospect), in addition to Speaker Mike Madigan, worked well together to help that chamber reach concensus. * Representative Bradley in particular was instrumental in making sure the program met the needs of the our employers going forward while at the same time providing transparency and accountability to the taxpayers in these difficult financial times.*
I also don’t want to forget the Board of Directors of the IEZA for their input during this process and all of you who contacted your legislators and community leaders to garner support for the program. The extension could not have happended wthout everyone coming togther for the common cause.
Chamber and Caucus Group Staffs
And finally, I have to thank the unsung heroes of the effort to pass this bill. The staffs of both chambers and all four caucus groups, as well as those from the Governor’s office, DCEO and Revenue. They did an amazing amount of work to bring all of the pieces together into the final bill, especially given all of the other things on their plates. Little if anything can be accomplished at the Capital without the staffs and they deserve significant recognition.
In the coming months, the IEZA wll be working closely with DCEO and the Illinois Department of Revenue to design, test and communicate new zone operating procedures and revised application processes and very soon we will be forwarding information related to the details of the bill and key timelines to be aware of as Zone Administrators and community leaders.
Stay tuned, there’s lots more to come.
President Illinois Enterprise Zone Association