Illinois Department of Commerce to partner with non-profit for business development

Illinois Department of Commerce to partner with non-profit for business development


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed an executive order Wednesday requiring the state’s commerce department to work with a new non-profit to attract business to the state.

The Governor said the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation (ILBEDC) will work with the Department of Commerce to jump-start economic development.

“ILBEDC will make us more competitive to put Illinois back in the game after years of sitting on the sidelines, idly watching neighboring states and others lure businesses and jobs away from Illinois,” Governor Rauner said in a statement.” This collaboration will field a highly competitive, proactive organization focused strictly on business development and job creation.”

Longtime Marion, Ill. Mayor Robert "Bob"Butler calls the Governor's plan a great sentiment but a "band-aid" to a broken system.

Butler is calling for a reform to the Illinois workers compensation program and a fix to the states $100-billion pension debt. He said without changes that eliminate the state's growing debt -- Illinois will remain an unfriendly place to do business.

“Until we get the law in Illinois reversed, we’re fish swimming upstream," Butler said.

Marion has developed policy that welcomes business to the city through tax increment financing districts that allow business to receive public subsidies to develop or redevelop infrastructure to benefit the community. The program is funded through Illinois' 1 percent home rule tax that allows municipalities to tax public goods to use for future development.

“As long as the business climate is so unfriendly in Illinois, we're going to lose business, industry and jobs," Butler said. "And why the people and the legislature can't figure this out boggles my mind."

The organizations will collaborate to look pursue private sector resources by focusing on marketing, sales, and customer service. ILBEDC will research and development of best practices for economic development. Similar organizations are in place in 16 states including Indiana, Ohio, and Florida.

Spokesperson Abby Gras for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) said the program has been a great success in Indiana.

"It has allowed us to focus specifically on economic development," Gras said.

The IEDC works to attract businesses to Indiana from across the country and the world," Gras said.

“I think the results have been pretty significant in the way that we have been able to bounce back and create new jobs," Gras said.

Indiana recently approved $42 million in grants for economic development in communities across the state, Gras said.
“We’ve lost tens of thousands of jobs and residents to other states in recent years,” Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jim Schultz said. “The corporation will employ economic development best practices to help reverse these trends and bring businesses back to Illinois, while working with the Department of Commerce to maintain high standards transparency and accountability.”
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce Chairman Matt Gambs said in a statement the new development will benefit Illinois’ business community.
 “The best way to improve Illinois for everyone is to improve the state’s economy," Gambs said.
The Department of commerce will hold final say on oversight of state grants and incentives. The ILBEDC will be governed by a board of directors including business, industry, and civic leaders across Illinois.
Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation is currently seeking non-profit status through the Internal Revenue Service.
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