Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that extends the life span of a popular economic development tool in the state.
"We've had enterprise zones that have either created or retained about 900,000 jobs in Illinois over the last three decades," Quinn said. He was at the Ford Motor Company plant in Chicago today. Enterprise zones offer companies a series of tax breaks and incentives to create jobs in economically-distressed areas of the state. The Chicago Tribune reported that the first of the zones would have expired next year.
The measure signed by Gov. Quinn extends the life of existing zones by another 25 years. As zones expire communities across the state will be able to compete for the incentives. Currently, enterprise zones are limited to blighted areas.
Officials at Ford say the enterprise zone helped the company stay competitive in Illinois, a sentiment echoed by Greg Baze with the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, which pushed hard for its passage.
"It provides stability, so companies like Ford are able to know that they will have these incentives in place to be able to expand and improve a facility like this," Baze said.
Today's law also creates a board to oversee the new competitive process, which critics say could undermine the original intent of the program.
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