SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity said it has received 67 applications for enterprise zones from communities throughout the state.
The department will now review the applications. State law requires proposals for new and existing enterprise zones to compete for up to 49 available 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.
Illinois law provides that 49 zones can be declared this year. The remainder of the state’s 97 available zones will be designated in 2016 through 2020.
Ten of the current applications call for new zones, while the rest seek renewal of existing zones. A listing of the applications received by the deadline of Dec. 31, 2014, is attached.
DCEO will score each application and submit its findings to a five-member Enterprise Zone Board by June 30, 2015. The board, to be appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, is expected to approve or deny the applications by Sept. 30, 2015, and the new zones will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.
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.
To be deemed eligible for a zone, applications will be measured according to 10 criteria. They are:
- A relatively high unemployment rate
- Potential for significant job creation and investment
- Relatively high poverty
- Abandoned coal mines, brownfields or federal disaster declarations
- Major layoffs
- High vacancy rate of industrial and commercial buildings
- Existing plans to improve the local tax base
- Plan for improving public infrastructure
- Career skills programs at high schools and community colleges
- Unusual changes in the taxable value of business properties.
For information on Illinois’ Enterprise Zone Program, and for more resources about doing business in Illinois, visit www.illinois.gov/dceo.