Senate hearing focuses on value of Illinois enterprise zones
Online Staff Report
A new special Illinois Senate committee continued its statewide review of enterprise zones Wednesday, April 4, with a hearing in Rockford focused on the successful track record of economic benefits from the zones.
The Zeke Giorgi State of Illinois Building served as host Wednesday for the bipartisan Special Senate Committee on Enterprise Zone Extensions, with co-chairmen state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, and state Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry. This was the second of several hearings statewide by the new committee formed to evaluate and recommend next steps on enterprise zones.
Created 30 years ago, nearly 100 enterprise zones around the state create real economic benefit and jobs in this tough economy. With a few set to expire starting next year, advocates and legislators are considering extensions and other reforms, and they explained their intentions at a news conference Wednesday before the hearing.
“Enterprise zones are a great, proven tool for economic development in Illinois,” Frerichs said. “What we need is a comprehensive review of how to take the great products from these zones and build on them. These hearings will provide that review and give us what we need to better use these zones going forward.”
Althoff added: “Enterprise zones are an effective way of producing real growth in our economy. I hope this bipartisan committee, working collaboratively, will send a strong message that we are serious about improving our state and creating jobs, and enterprise zones are and should continue to be a key part of that approach.”
The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA), the leading advocate for extending zones statewide, and other business leaders discussed why these zones have been so effective.
More than 900,000 jobs and nearly $50 billion have come from these zones since their creation. Last year alone, enterprise zones saw more than 24,000 jobs created and retained and $2.5 billion in investments.
The IMA is pushing for passage of Senate Bill 3688 to extend the length of the zones by 25 years, allows for targeted expansions of 10 new zones over the next decade and call for increased transparency and accountability for these zones.
“There’s no disputing enterprise zones are one of the best economic development and job creation options we have in Illinois,” said Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer for the IMA. “It’s imperative that legislators and the governor take this legislation seriously this spring, put it into law and tell job creators throughout Illinois that we’re serious about rebuilding this state. These hearings are a good first step toward that goal, and we thank the Senate for making this a priority.”
Posted April 5, 2012
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