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Sandwich OKs expansion of DeKalb County Enterprise Zone

The Sandwich City Council approved four ordinances for the expansion of the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone during the council meeting Monday, Jan. 27, prompted by DeKalb County’s selection as a finalist for two projects that could net $900 million in investments and bring 1,000 jobs to the county.

DeKalb County, the cities of DeKalb, Genoa and Sycamore, and the village of Waterman already had approved amendments to add about 505 acres to the DeKalb Enterprise Zone along with a 15-year 50% property tax abatement for projects with $100 million of investment, 900,000 square feet of building space and 400 jobs, and a 20-year 55% property tax abatement for projects with $800 million of investment, 900,000 square feet of space, in addition to more jobs.

“The city of DeKalb and DeKalb County government and the other communities look forward to working in cooperation with the city of Sandwich on future productive and enterprise initiatives,” said Paul J. Borek, executive director for DeKalb County Economic Development Company. “Should the city of Sandwich need an opportunity to expand the enterprise zone for a site that wasn’t conceived of for development in 2014, the other member communities will certainly, likewise, be receptive to a project that would benefit the city of Sandwich.”

The purpose of the added land is to attract a technology-based company code-named Project Venus, while the high-impact project incentive amendments have been structured to attract a project such Project Hammer, the food processing project south of I-88 with more than 1,000 new jobs, as well as Project Venus.

“I think that it’s great that you already have these two larger companies already coming into our area. I think it’s going to be beneficial to everyone,” said Fred Kreinbrink, Ward 4 alderman. “My only concern that a few of us had talked about was it possibly eliminating possibilities for us, but in reality it’s actually going to offer additional opportunities for us as we go forward because now that there has been an addendum made, if we choose to do something similar down here it’s more likely to foster and be able to grow, so I think that’s perfect.”

Borek explained that the Enterprise Zone already has increased the visibility and competitiveness of DeKalb County in identifying prospects and attracting new and expanded business investments. He cited the fact that the Enterprise Zone played a significant role in attracting Meadowvale of Yorkville and Soltech of Quebec, Canada.

“We know for certain DeKalb County would not have had this opportunity without the Enterprise Zone,” Borek said. “So all in all we’re grateful for the support and participation and collaboration with the city of Sandwich, along with DeKalb County, the city of DeKalb, village of Waterman, Cortland and Genoa and Sycamore in the creation of the Enterprise Zone and the operation of the Enterprise Zone.”

The total capital investment in the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone is about $203 million, while the value of capital investment associated with the projects in Sandwich was $25 million, which represents about 12% of the total.

Sandwich makes up about 7% of DeKalb County’s population, but commands 12% of the capital investment leverage to the Enterprise Zone and 18% of the 34 projects.

“Sandwich is fairing fairly well in terms of proportion of Enterprise Zone industrial and commercial development projects,” Borek said.

Kevin Kelleher, Ward 2 alderman, asked Borek, “let’s say I wanted to bring my business to DeKalb County, what would you offer to me?”

Borek replied that the Enterprise Zone is the primary incentive tool, one that offers an exemption from sales tax on building materials used in new construction or rehabilitation and remodeling, as well as 1/2% credit against Illinois income tax liability for eligible capital investment through the state.

“And those are available to industrial and commercial projects, including Main Street projects and downtown redevelopment projects, and for industrial projects, including manufacturing, distribution or what we refer to as knowledge-based industries, maybe research and development,” he said. “For projects that meet minimum size characteristics, 20,000 square feet of construction and 20 new jobs, there is a 5-year property tax abatement available from participating units of government that starts at 90% Year 1 and continues 80, 70, 60 and 50 in Year 5.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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