020613js  0077rSPRINGFIELD – Central Illinois will have a greater ability to utilize one of Illinois’ most effective economic development tools, if a bipartisan measure sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D – Bunker Hill) is approved by the House. Senate Bill 1251, which grants the Central Illinois Economic Development Authority the same ability to create Enterprise Zones as many other regional economic development authorities across the state, passed the Illinois Senate on Wednesday.

“Illinois’ Enterprise Zone Program has a proven record of creating and retaining jobs in other downstate communities,” said Manar. “It’s important that communities here in Central Illinois have the same opportunities to tap this important job creation tool.”

The Illinois Enterprise Zone Program was in danger of expiring until the General Assembly passed an extension last year. The program is credited with creating nearly 900,000 jobs and generating nearly $50 billion in investments over the past 30 years.

“This is an important step towards growing local economies and keeping Central Illinois competitive as place to do business,” said Manar. “With the ability to create Enterprise Zones, Central Illinois communities are better positioned to pair local, state and federal incentives to recruit and retain employers.”

Manar’s legislation does not impact the extension of the Enterprise Zone Program enacted last year, but simply brings the Central Illinois Economic Development Authority into the same regulatory framework as other regional authorities. Other regional authorities already empowered to create Enterprise Zones include the Upper River Valley Development Authority, the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority, the Southeastern Illinois Economic Development Authority, the Quad Cities Regional Economic Development Authority and the Western Illinois Economic Development Authority.

SB 1251 passed the Senate with unanimous support. It now advances to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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