Four new enterprise zones established throughout Metro-East region

By Bob Pieper For Chronicle Media


Metro-East business leaders are hoping four new enterprise zones will spur the same type of business development seen in the Gateway Enterprise Zone.

Metro-East business leaders are hoping four new enterprise zones will spur the same type of business development seen in the Gateway Enterprise Zone.

The Metro-East begins 2016 with four new enterprise zones (EZ) designed to spur redevelopment.

With the new Discovery Enterprise Zone in Madison County, the Fairview Heights and Fairmont City/Caseyville enterprise zones in St. Clair County, and Clinton County Enterprise Zone, Metro-East now has a total of seven state-authorized special development incentive districts —  including three existing EZs that were recertified last month by state officials.

Authorized under the Illinois Enterprise Zone Act of 1982, enterprise zones are intended to stimulate economic growth and neighborhood revitalization in the most economically depressed areas of the state by offering new and existing businesses eligibility for special state and local tax incentives, regulatory relief, and improved governmental services.

Under the law, the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (IDCEO) can authorize up to 100 EZs to offer special development incentives.  Authorization is granted for a period of up to 25 years, through a competitive application process designed to ensure EZ incentives are offered in the most economically disadvantaged areas.

State law gives the new zones a 15-year term, with a review by the Illinois Enterprise Zone Board after 13 years for a possible 10-year extension.  The board is currently midway through an EZ authorization/reauthorization cycle.

In August 2015, the department’s Illinois Enterprise Zone Panel selected a total of 49 EZs — 10 new and 39 established — from among 67 applicants for authorization or extension Jan. 1, 2016. Applications for EZ status this year had to be filed by Dec. 31, 2014.

The panel will fill the state’s remaining 51 EZ slots later this year, with those authorizations taking effect Jan. 1, 2017.  Applications for the final round of the authorization cycle were due Dec. 31, 2015.

Metro-East’s existing Southwest and Riverbend enterprise zones in Madison County and Belleville Enterprise Zone in St. Clair County were among those recertified.  Madison County’s Gateway Enterprise Zone was not up for recertification last year.

Local economic development officials got an unpleasant surprise in September when IDCEO staff members announced they were suspending certification of the new and re-authorized EZs, pending a resolution of the ongoing budget dispute between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Legislature.

However, that changed Nov. 10 when the Rauner administration announced certification of the enterprise zones would be allowed as part of a package of compromises with state legislators on fiscal issues that also included EDGE tax credits and funding for child support payments.

“Enterprise zones will become effective January 1, 2016,” an administration press release declared.

Development incentives provided through the Gateway Enterprise Zone are widely credited by Madison County officials as a key factor in the development of Edwardsville’s burgeoning Gateway Commerce Center, which has become a distribution center for 10 major companies (including Dial, Hershey, and Procter and Gamble), and is undergoing expansion.

Madison County’s new Discovery Enterprise Zone is a 13.8-square-mile area that encompass parts of Highland, Troy, St. Jacob, Maryville, Glen Carbon and Collinsville in Madison County.

Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan plans a series of “enterprise zone update” meetings over the coming weeks to review the EZ incentives with local officials.

The new Fairview Heights Enterprise Zone is part of an effort to reinforce the city’s longstanding status as the shopping hub of southern Illinois. It will facilitate an updating of the town’s central business around St. Clair Square, as well as a new Metro transit-centered develop on the town’s west end, according to city officials.

The new 0.8 square mile EZ covers an existing local tax increment financing (TIF) district, encompassing the city’s main business district along Lincoln Trail, as well as two new TIF districts: one covering the Fairview Heights Plaza commercial area north of I-64 and the other in the French Village area near the local Metro-Link station.

The new Clinton County Enterprise zone is effectively an expanded replacement for the Carlyle Enterprise Zone which expired last year.  The new EZ covers sections of the City of Carlyle, several surrounding municipalities (including Albers, Aviston, Beckemeyer, Breese, Trenton, and New Baden), and unincorporated Clinton County.

Local officials have publically announced few plans for the new Fairmont City/Caseyville Enterprise Zone, which also covers part of the Village of Brooklyn and nearby sections of unincorporated St. Clair County.

Businesses in an enterprise zone may be eligible for an investment tax credit of .5 percent on qualified property as well as exemption from state sales, utility and telecommunications taxes. Local government entities can offer additional incentives.


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—   Four new enterprise zones established throughout Metro-East region —