It is an honor to serve as President of the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association (IEZA). I’ve had the pleasure of working with the members of IEZA for nearly 25 years at both the state and local levels. During that time I have always been impressed with the passion IEZA members have shown in supporting Enterprise Zone issues and the commitment the organization‘s leaders have to the continuing education and training of not only its members, but also the employers and elected officials in our respective communities.
That passion is member driven and enhanced by a committed volunteer Board of Directors whose only goal is to keep all of the Illinois Enterprise Zones viable for the long term.
In a time of shrinking state and local economic development budgets and elimination or reduction of many development tools, Enterprise Zones remain as the most effective tool in our arsenal. While many business incentives are theoretical and depend on employers to guess at how useful they will or will not be, Enterprise Zones only offer incentives when an employer has actually hired people or made promised investments. That makes it one of the most stable, predictable and accountable programs on the books in the State of Illinois. The benefits of Illinois Enterprise Zones represent Illinois’ premier economic development incentive, securing the creation and retention of thousands of jobs each year.
Zones also benefit businesses of all types, sizes and ownership structures and represent a true partnership between local and state governments. Considering the available state tax exemptions and credits and the locally specific property tax abatements, many critical development incentives are in place ready to be utilized by job creators statewide without the red tape associated with many incentive programs. When the bottom line counts, Illinois Enterprise Zones make a positive impact for all of our employers.
Over the past few months I’m proud of the fact that that the IEZA and our partners in progress at the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association the Taxpayers Federation of Illinois successfully worked with a bi-partisan group of legislative leaders to pass long term extension of the Illinois Enterprise Zone program. I want to thank State Senators Mike Frerichs (D - Champaign) and Pam Althoff (R - McHenry) and State Representatives John Bradley (D - Marion) and David Harris (R - Mt. Prospect) for their tireless efforts to pass a reformed version of the program which keeps critical incentives in place, while providing for more accountability and transparency to the taxpayers of Illinois. And finally, I want to thank Governor Pat Quinn for signing the legislation.
Now as we enter the next phase of the revised program’s implementation, we know challenges lay ahead for all of our members as we make our individual cases for local Zone renewal. IEZA is at the forefront of communicating with the Illinois Department of Revenue as the new reporting requirements are implemented and with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity on new application and approval procedures.
Most importantly, IEZA will always be the leader in training and informing Zone Administrators on the best practices for Zone operators throughout Illinois. Join us in our members only LinkedIn group discussion and plan to attend our upcoming conferences.
There is no better time than right now to become more involved with the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association.
Please contact me directly if you have any questions, comments or concerns about the organization or our efforts to date and thanks again for affording me the opportunity to serve as President of the IEZA!