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District 87 School Board Hears Pitch For Uniform Economic Development Incentives

BN EDC Director Patrick Hoban shared excitement about a potential major business development for the region and state during a Busey Bank briefing on the economy held at Illinois Wesleyan University
Charlie Schlenker
Patrick Hoban, CEO of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, spoke during a recent briefing on the local economy held at Illinois Wesleyan University.

School officials in Bloomington say everyone benefits when the community grows, while indicating their support Wednesday night for a uniform tax incentive package being pitched by the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council (EDC).

The new tax incentives offer a five-year abatement package for non-retail projects and a three-year deal for retail projects.

EDC CEO Patrick Hoban told the District 87 school board Wednesday night the goal of the standardized incentives is to have a set of rules to attract businesses to the Twin Cities.

“So, if a business comes in town or a business is thinking about growing, we can all hopefully now say, ‘If you create 25 jobs and you invest $250,000, (we) are going to offer up a five-year property tax abatement, but only on what’s new,’” he said.

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 EDC, 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.

District 87 would not lose tax dollars from where the value of a property stands today, but it would not receive revenue from the growth in value.

Superintendent Barry Reilly said he’s supports the approach because it encourages businesses to grow in Bloomington.

“The type of incentives that we're talking about are exactly what we've always talked to the city about that we would support. Meaning they're short term, they're five years or less. They have benchmarks that have to be met,” said Reilly.

Hoban told the board one unique aspect of the tax incentives is a set of bonuses that would be granted if new businesses hired local residents to build or work at the location, noting other criteria include working with the school board and local colleges to create apprenticeship programs.

Reilly emphasized his support for the bonuses, saying they are productive for the community, adding the Twin City area can be seen as a travel hub.

“So, there's a lot of good things infrastructure-wise that I think are very attractive that many don't necessarily think about.”

The tax incentive plan will be brought back to the board on Sept. 22 for its approval.

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Maritza Navar-Lopez is a student reporting intern at WGLT. She joined the newsroom in 2021.
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