State: Treasurer to invest $220 million to spur tech jobs

By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois will invest more than $220 million in emerging technology companies over the next three years, state Treasurer Michael Frerichs said Tuesday.

The move is intended to spur the creation of an estimated 3,600 jobs.

Frerichs, D-Champaign, said the money will come from existing investments and is not caught up in the state budget impasse, which largely involves general revenue funds. The state investment is expected to attract more than $400 million in private-sector money.

The treasurer said there are two goals: supporting Illinois tech companies and the jobs they generate, and earning investment returns for the state.

The Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund investments will be spread across 15 to 20 funds, with no more than 15 percent of the money placed in any given fund. An advisory board will provide guidance and transparency, the treasurer said.

Speaking at a Chicago news conference, Frerichs said he gets asked, “‘How can you, amidst this budget impasse, afford to make these investments?’”

“I think the real answer is how can we not afford to make these investments,” he said.

As the state’s chief investment officer, Frerichs manages about $25 billion — about $13 billion in state money, about $7 billion in college savings funds and about $5 billion in pooled municipal resources.

Getting a decent return on state investments means that every dollar of income is “a dollar the General Assembly doesn’t need to raise in taxes or a dollar they don’t need to make in painful cuts to important services,” he said.

The funds come from technology development accounts, or TDAs, which lawmakers authorized in 2002 (TDA I) and 2011 (TDA II) , the treasurer said in a news release.

“TDA I has been a valuable resource for retaining successful businesses and expanding the Illinois technology ecosystem,” said Howard Tullman, chief executive officer of 1871, the tech startup hub based in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

“TDA II builds on the success of TDA I and helps ensure that Illinois remains an attractive place for tech entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create new jobs,” said Tullman, who joined Frerichs at his Chicago news conference.

Fifty South Capital, a subsidiary of the Northern Trust Corp., was selected to administer this TDA II program following a public bidding process, according to the treasurer’s office.

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