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Normal Council To Consider Uniform Economic Incentive Package

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WGLT STAFF
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The Normal Town Council will take up a long-awaited economic development initiative on Monday.

The proposal codifies a standard incentive package to be offered to all potential businesses locating in Bloomington-Normal, or anywhere within the existing enterprise zone. The package, developed by the Economic Development Council, school districts, and other community stakeholders, includes a sliding scale of property tax breaks diminishing over a period of years. It also offers incentives to hire workers who live in McLean and Ford counties, women, and minorities. Other incentives could go to firms that create apprenticeship programs.

The package targets specific desirable industries: logistics and warehousing; information technology; information technology manufacturing; clean technology manufacturing; finance; insurance; and real estate. It puts a premium on jobs that pay higher than average wages and businesses that choose to locate in Brownfield areas.

The plan also excludes some industries from receiving incentives, such as automotive service stations, car wash facilities, commodity scrap processing, convenience food and beverage stores, gasoline stations, package liquor stores, recycling facilities, and payday lenders to name a few. Firms that relocate from within the community to a new spot inside the enterprise zone also won't get government help.

The package is supposed to prevent bidding wars by area communities and to offer businesses a transparent look at what they can expect.

The City of Bloomington has approved the deal. School boards and county governments within the existing enterprise zone must also sign off.

Insurance

The Town of Normal said health insurance rates for its workers will go up 17%.

Council members will decide whether to approve the package that will cost an extra $88,500 for the plan year. Staff said last fiscal year, insurance claims went down a lot because people didn't go to doctors as much during the pandemic. Putting off that care has become more expensive, said the town as low-cost remedies if a health condition is caught early become expensive interventions later on.

Staff said the town currently has a significant level of claimants who are considered “high-cost claimants.” Additionally, several large claimants are considered “repeat claimants” who have incurred claims over $150,000 several years in a row. That means insurance companies tend to charge more because they think high cost claims will continue.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chambers in Uptown Station.

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