The Illinois Quad-Cities is an Enterprise Zone again. The Illinois Department of Commerce in Springfield announced Wednesday that the Quad-Cities had been chosen for the designation, along with Kewanee/Henry County, Carmi/White County/Edwards County and Vandalia/Fayette County.
What it means for the Illinois Quad-Cities is that beginning Jan. 1, potentially huge tax breaks can be marketed to builders and developers on permanent construction projects in a 15-square-mile area in Rock Island County and the cities of Rock Island, Moline, East Moline and Silvis for at least the next 15 years.
The main tax break is waiving sales tax on building materials bought in Illinois for construction projects.
“It’s great news,” said Denise Bulat, executive director of the Bi-State Regional Commission. “I thought we would get it last year.”
A previous designation as an Enterprise Zone for the Illinois Quad-Cities expired in March 2018 after being in place for 25 years, and the application for a new designation fell short of the needed score.
This time it was at the top of the list, Bulat said, and that could lead to the Illinois Quad-Cities getting not just the 15 years announced Wednesday, but also 10 more for a total of 25 additional years.
Ray Forsythe, planning and development director for the city of Moline, which administers the Enterprise Zone, agreed it’s a nice step forward.
“It’s another way to make us competitive,” Forsythe said. “There aren’t a whole lot of incentive opportunities in Illinois, so this is a great tool for us to use so we are not so reliant on TIFs (tax-increment financing zones) and the city’s portion of the property tax."
“There may be people that have held back; this opens the door once again to being able to go ahead and build,” said Tim Knanishu, executive vice president of REDEEM, a group that promotes development in East Moline. “It’s probably one of the larger and easiest things for the municipality to work with in terms of working with the developer.”
According to a release from the Illinois Department of Commerce, the Enterprise Zone Board evaluated applications and made recommendations Sept. 18.
Once designated, an Enterprise Zone maintains its designation for 15 years. The Enterprise Zone Board will review the zone after 13 years and rule on a possible 10-year extension of the designation.
“The Enterprise Zone is designed to allow distressed areas to compete with non-distressed areas,” Forsythe said.
After 25 years as Enterprise Zones, all zones had to reapply for the designation, Bulat said.
Some entities were able to get their Enterprise Zone approval several months ago, Forsythe said, through the Quad-Cities Regional Economic Development Authority (QCREDA), an entity created by the Illinois General Assembly in the 1980s.
A few Deere & Co. properties and the new IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union headquarters being built on River Drive in Moline qualified as Enterprise Zones before the old zone designation expired, Forsythe said. In addition, The Bend development in East Moline, the 5th Avenue Building in Moline, and a few entities in Rock Island also were approved several months ago, through the same process.
After Wednesday's announcement, all of those will have to decide which Enterprise Zone they want to be a part of.
Regardless, it’s good news for the Quad-Cities, said Mike VanDeHeede, managing partner of Great River Property Development LLC at The Bend.
“Anything that will drive economic development in the Quad-Cities is great for our area,” VanDeHeede said. “It’s great for the whole area and helps move projects forward at our place.”